by Kirk Jackson
Watching HBO’s Face Off with Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez over this past weekend was quite entertaining to say the least. It’s definitely one of the best episodes in the series thus far, firmly behind the Bernard Hopkins/Jean Pascal and Antonio Margarito/Miguel Cotto episodes.
There were many highlights in this episode, mostly from Martinez exposing Chavez’s resume and rise to the top of the sport mainly because of his father’s legendary name and status. As for the fight itself, not that I needed any reminders, but watching this episode re-affirmed what I already thought about the match-up.
HBO can hype this fight as much as they want, and they should because this will be an exciting bout that will more than likely do big PPV numbers. I’d rather watch this fight than watch Canelo Alverez vs. the undersized Josesito Lopez.
This will be a one-sided slaughter in favor of Martinez. Granted, Chavez is coming off a thrilling, storybook ending against Andy Lee in his most recent fight, but this fight will be completely different.
Lee did not move, was a stationary target and ended up paying the price. Anyone who has watched a Martinez fight will tell you he definitely knows how to move and box circles around his opponents.
This is probably going to be the most one-sided high profile beating since Floyd Mayweather vs. Arturo Gatti, or since Manny Pacquiao vs. Oscar De La Hoya.
It’s probably safe to say aside from Sebastian Zbik, Andy Lee is the best fighter on Chavez’s resume. But honestly, Lee isn’t really considered an elite fighter, even in this watered down middleweight division, and the Mexican star was losing before he scored the stoppage.
Most Chavez opponents are no-namers and always seems to have some sort of disadvantage heading into the fight. Although he fights as a middleweight (160 pounds) Chavez has a tendency to weigh up to 180 pounds and up on the night of the fight, having a huge weight advantage over his opponents.
And for some strange reason, Chavez has been able to avoid drug testing as well. According to Martinez, Chavez didn’t want drug testing for their fight, which shouldn’t a surprise, being most Freddie Roach and Alex Ariza trained fighters do not want random drug testing, (Manny Pacquiao most notably comes to mind). I believe in 8 out of his last 10 fights, Chavez has eluded the drug testing. Now if he could only evade punches that easily.
During the Face Off episode, Martinez mentioned Chavez’s limited resume, and exposed how he basically waited until he was awarded a championship belt, and then decided to fight some decent opposition. I agree with that assessment, Chavez didn’t really do anything to garner a shot for the belt. I understand the politics behind that, but what’s done is done. When Chavez won his belt, he wasn’t ready for Martinez. He still may not be ready for Martinez, but he is in better position to win now than he was a few years ago.
Chavez has now spent more time under the tutelage of Hall of Fame Trainer Roach and gained valuable experience from his tough victories in recent fights. I can’t say for certain how much of an effect Roach is having on Chavez; I’ve seen slight improvement, but he does not fight like a stereotypical Roach fighter. With Roach in his corner and with his recent come from behind victory, Chavez is coming into the fight with a lot of confidence.
He does have the size advantage, and he’ll more than likely have the crowd on his side, being that he is of Mexican descent and this fight will be taking place during Mexican Independence Day weekend. As limited as Chavez is as a fighter, he still does possess good qualities. Chavez does a great job attacking the body, has a pretty good chin, and does have heart. Perhaps an asterisk can be placed on his chin rating, as he always outweighs his opponents by 20 pounds or so, but nonetheless, he’s a tough guy to put out.
Martinez mentioned his resume and history during the Face Off episode, and it is quite impressive: I think guys like Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams, Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin are more formidable than Chavez. The problem for Chavez in facing Martinez is, being a former soccer player and cyclist, Martinez is very adept at moving around the ring, has great endurance, tremendous hand speed, power in both hands and can turn the switch on in the championship rounds. Granted, as he as aged, as do most fighters, he tends to get hit more often then he would probably like. But at the end of the day, this quick southpaw has too much skill for Chavez.
Not that Martinez is unbeatable by any stretch of the imagination, because things have looked shaky for him in his last couple of fights against Macklin and Barker. In order to beat Martinez, you need a potent jab to offset his rhythm and I think it’s crucial to have the ability to counter punch and make adjustments because you can’t just rely on the jab. The problem for Chavez, at least based on his history and indications seen on the Face Off episode, he thinks he’s going to walk through Martinez and has no problem with walking through a storm of blistering punches in order to reach his target.
It will serve Chavez well if he is able to cut-off the ring, instead of chasing Martinez around, but either way, I see Chavez being overwhelmed by the movement, hand speed and skill of Martinez. Remember, Martinez was able to break down the much bigger Kelly Pavlik when he first captured the middleweight title. He also had the work rate to keep up with the super tall and long Paul Williams, who by the way had an enormous amount of stamina. So Martinez is no stranger to facing big guys who can punch and possess great endurance.
This will be a very exciting fight, that I think will end in a TKO stoppage somewhere around the 10th round in favor of Martinez.