By Sergio Martinez
On May 28, 2005, upon concluding his “farewell” victory fight against “Mighty” Ivan Robinson at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, the king of Mexican boxing, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., bestowed a gift upon the Mexican and Mexican-American fight community. Via a passionate plea voiced over the arena’s audio system, “El Leon de Culiacan” said, “I’m sorry for not knocking out (Ivan) Robinson like I said I would and I hope you can forgive me. I just want to thank everyone that has supported me over all these years. Thank you for your love and support. For that I am leaving all of you with a gift: my son. I ask all of you to please love him and support him as you have loved and supported me. Thank you again for everything.”
Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank
We later learned that this was not the last “farewell” fight that Chavez Sr. had but still this was the one that officially marked the Mexican boxing “iron throne” being passed from the king to the heir by virtue of birthright. Although the verdict was still out regarding Chavez Junior’s ability to step-in and run the kingdom, it was an understanding that he would be the one leading Mexican boxing into the future as he was all of 19 years young at the time that the crown was passed to him by his father.
Top Rank, who promotes Junior, realized that the boy king was not ready to lead so they took their time to develop the inexperienced Mexican pug. His throne claim weakened as many fight fans doubted if the boy would ever develop into a real fighter. It was a slow process but as Chavez Junior’s career progressed, his natural talents and abilities flourished and he gradually developed into a legitimate contender.
PHOTO BY Gene Blevins/Hogan Photos
As was the case with the Stannis Baratheon’s character in HBO’s Game of Thrones series, he was the rightful heir to the Iron Throne by virtue of blood; Chavez Junior, now appearing fit to rule, expected to simply take over the Mexican boxing landscape as previously ordained.
The issue standing before Junior and his claim to the throne is that during his developmental stage, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, a new Mexican 19 year old boy king, rose to power and he too has made a claim to sit on the throne. Although his veins also hold boxing blood (many of his family members were professional fighters), none of the elder Alvarez clan members obtained the status that Chavez Sr. obtained during his days as a fighter. Still, many in the kingdom recognize Alvarez as the current ruler.
Early on in their careers, both young bloods were developed slowly and mowed through the usual suspects in their respective division. Both have developed nicely and appear ready for command. Consider that Chavez Junior is 26 and “Canelo” is 21: both pugilists have the ability to own the throne for many years to come.
Junior’s competition is beginning to improve as is evident by his last three fights. In his last three contests, Julio has faced Sebastian Zbik, Peter Manfredo Jr., and Marco Antonio Rubio, beating each of the would-be challengers convincingly. He picked up the WBC middleweight title along the way. Chavez’s boxing as a whole has improved under the tutelage of famed trainer to the stars: Freddie Roach. He has shown discipline boxing and his defensive skills have improved. He appears to be nearing a completed product as he climbs up the boxing hierarchy.
This past Saturday night, Julio took the next step towards solidifying his claim to the Iron Throne as he destroyed the highly respected Andy Lee. Junior battered the tough and rugged Irish southpaw for five rounds. Lee, who was four years removed from his only defeat in 29 fights, was game throughout the contest but his inability to hurt Junior with his punches lead to his demise. The referee called a halt to the bout in the seventh round after Lee was seriously hurt by a concussive right-hand and Chavez Junior moved in for the kill. It was an impressive win for the young Mexican star.
Junior looked spectacular in his third title defense and his growing popularity was evident as there were over 30,000 Mexican and Mexican-American fans in attendance. Chavez Junior further increased his stock in the post-fight interview as he eagerly anticipated fighting the 160 pound kingpin Sergio Martinez. The fight has been verbally agreed to by both promoters and is scheduled to take place on September 15, 2012. A victory over Martinez will put Junior in the driver’s seat and it will be hard to question his claim to the throne.
Not to be outdone by his rising Mexican rival, Alvarez is slated to face another highly respected southpaw on September 15, 2012 as he is scheduled to fight “Vicious” Victor Ortiz. Ortiz fits the mold of recent Alvarez opponents: he has a respectable name in the sport but is much smaller than the 154 pound boy king. Still, a big win over Ortiz will cause some complications as to who is the rightful heir of Mexican boxing.
As sides continue to be chosen and alliances are forged, both claimants to the throne will move their armies of supporters forward for what we can only hope is a final battle which will pit Junior against “Canelo.” The winner will finally be able to legitimately claim and rightfully sit on the Iron Throne of Mexican boxing for years to come.
That is, until another would-be king emerges.
Contact Sergio Martinez at [email protected]