By: Sergio L. Martinez
A lot has been made about the clash of not only the fighters that are scheduled to do battle on September 15, but also about which fight is the one to watch. The Sergio Martinez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. middleweight showdown at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas is a pay-per-view event that will cost consumers additional funds to enjoy. The Canelo Alvarez vs Josesito Lopez light middleweight bout taking place down the road in Sin City at the MGM Grand will be aired on Showtime at no additional cost other than monthly dues.
Although Martinez-Chavez Jr. appears to be the more marketable main event, Golden Boy Promotions, realizing that their event has less significance, has included an intriguing undercard stout with several competitive fights (at least on paper). Comparing the top three undercard fights on each event may help the undecided fans make a decision on which card to focus on.
Martinez-Chavez Jr. Undercard:
Undefeated Light Middleweight John Jackson (13-0-0 with 12 KOs) is slated to fight the once-beaten Willie Nelson who hails from Cleveland, Ohio. Nelson (18-1-1 with 11 KOs) who is coming off a May 2012 upset unanimous decision victory of highly touted Cuban Yudel Jhonson, is the more experienced professional in this fight, but there is not much more that separates these two. Nelson’s win over Jhonson eclipses any win that Jackson has on his resume, as Jhonson is a former 2004 Olympic silver medalist who was taught to fight under the Cuban amateur system. Nelson is tall for the weight and can be a very awkward fighter, which does not always lead to entertaining fights.
John Jackson is not without pedigree as a former 2008 Olympian who represented the U.S. Virgin Islands. He did not medal in the Olympic games. Jackson also has the bloodline as the son of former world champion Julian Jackson. His father was a powerful punching Light Middleweight, so there is reason to believe that Jackson’s power may be legitimate. Still, because of the limited opposition that Jackson has faced up to his point in his career, his true attributes have not come into complete focus yet.
Nelson has been deposited on the canvas before, so this creates some interest, but in the end, this fight has little to no value outside of the fighters and their brain trusts. There are too many unknown factors in this fight to be able to provide an educated indication if it is worth watching. The only real intrigue is if Jackson’s power results in a jaw-dropping knockout.
Irish tough guy and recent Sergio Gabriel Martinez victim Matthew “Mack the Knife” Macklin (28-4, 19 KOs)is scheduled to lock horns with Canada’s Joachim Alcine (33-2-1, 19 KOs). The fight is a 10-round affair in the middleweight division. Macklin comes into the contest as the more seasoned pug, having faced world-class opposition in his last two fights. The unfortunate thing for Macklin is that he lost a controversial decision to Felix Sturm and was stopped in 11 rounds by Sergio Martinez. Now there is no shame is losing those fights, but it suggests that Macklin is a solid B level fighter who just does not have what it takes to compete at the upper levels of the sport. Still, he is an exciting brawler with plenty of heart and is never in a bad fight.
Opposite Macklin, Alcine is a fighter that has not quite lived up to his early career promise. In 2007, the Canadian scored an impressive unanimous decision win over the then-undefeated Travis Simms and picked up the WBA Light Middleweight strap in the process. Two fights later, Alcine lost the belt to lightly regarded Daniel Santos via sixth round stoppage. In July 2010, the Canadian was destroyed in one round by Mexican mauler Alfredo Angulo. Alcine has only fought twice since, garnering a split decision win over Mexican journeyman Jose Medina and an upset majority decision victory over fellow Canadian David Lemieux. Lemieux was coming off a technical knockout defeat to Marco Antonio Rubio but still was favored to beat Alcine.
Recent Alcine fights have lacked action and this will only be his fourth fight since July 2010. Also, Alcine is now 36 years old. It is hard to fathom that Macklin could be involved in a boring fight, but if he is, it will most likely not be his fault. This does not mean that the Irishman is guaranteed a victory, but should this fight go Alcine’s way, chances are that it will be a lackluster affair.
In a scrap for the WBO Super Featherweight title, Mexico versus Puerto Rico is rekindled as Sinaloa native Miguel Beltran Jr. (25-1, 17 KOs) will make a second attempt at a world title when he faces off against Puerto Rican former titlist Roman “Rocky” Martinez (25-1-1, 16 KOs). Both Martinez and Beltran are not shy in the ring, so this contest has some promise, but massive inactivity by the Puerto Rican could show in the early rounds by way of ring rust.
Martinez has the edge in level of opposition as he has faced some decent competition in particular from the United Kingdom. In 2009, Martinez vanquished Nicky Cook for the WBO strap via technical stoppage. He made two defenses prior to losing the belt in 2010 via unanimous decision to Ricky Burns. Martinez took a year off and came back with a technical knockout victory over journeyman Daniel Attah. This is only his second fight back since he lost the title in 2010.
In stark contrast, this contest will be Beltran’s eighth fight in the past two years. In his previous seven fights, the Mexican has posted six wins, one loss and one no contest. The no contest was in December 2011, when Beltran was challenging Juan Carlos Salgado for the IBF Super Featherweight trinket.
There is a good chance that this fight will go rounds, so the potential for a grueling fight exists. Also, Martinez is active and once the ring rust, if any, dissipates, this contest has the potential to be exciting, since Martinez is trying to recapture his former belt while Beltran is attempting to make good on his opportunity.
Overall, this undercard is typical of a Top Rank, as at least on paper, most of the chief undercard fights do not appear to hold much in the way of substance. This does not automatically mean that the fights will be non-eventful but, at least on paper, the card as a whole appears to lack substance.
After losing the fight originally wanted for this date when Josesito Lopez upset “Vicious” Victor Ortiz, Golden Boy Promotions had no choice but to downgrade the event from pay-per-view to the Showtime Network. Ortiz was eventually replaced by his conqueror, a choice which received resistance from the boxing community as a whole. Still, Golden Boy soldiered on and built a card that has some great potential to offset their rivals, Top Rank.
In a fight that is sure to get heated quickly, Marcos Rene Maidana is scheduled to dual fellow boxing ruffian Jesus Soto Karass in a bout slated for 10 rounds. This fight has carnage written all over it.
Argentinian mauler Maidana (31-3, 28 KOs) has built a reputation as an all action durable pug with power in both fists. After bursting onto the scene in 2009 when he made Victor Ortiz quit in six brutal rounds, Maidana has remained in the spotlight by engaging in entertaining fights which often end in knockouts. His performances against world-class opposition have been inconsistent in regards to skillset, but never in the action department. Maidana’s fight plan is simple: apply pressure, flail concussive punches at your opponent and break his will with a relentless attack. Although this approach sounds primeval, it has reaped great rewards.
At first glance, Jesus Soto Karass (26-7-3, 17 KOs), who hails from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, does not appear to be much of a threat to most upper echelon fighters. He is not a naturally gifted fighter as he does not have fast hands, great footwork, or above average boxing skills. What he does have in abundance is durability, self-confidence, heavy hands, and a set of “cajones” that do not allow him to quit. As long as he is still standing, Soto Karass will keep coming forward. “Attrition” is really the best way to describe his fighting approach.
With both of these men having no time or sense of taking a step back, the likelihood that this fight will be a bloodbath is almost a guarantee for as long as it lasts. Since both fighters are durable, this contest has the potential to be the fight of the night in terms of action and brutality.
Newly crowned IBF Bantamweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz (20-0-1, 11 KOs) will make the first defense of his title as he takes on aging veteran Eric Morel (46-3-0, 23 KOs). The fight is scheduled for 12 rounds. This contest truly epitomizes experience versus youth as Morel, a former flyweight champion, clocks in at 36 years of age, while Santa Cruz is just out of diapers at 24.
Although it would appear that Morel’s best days are behind him, he remained active the past 24 months, having fought six times since 2010. In that same span, Morel posted five wins, with his only loss being a world title challenge in the super bantamweight division against Abner Mares. Morel was bested via unanimous decision, but gave a good account of himself, leaving many to believe that there is still something left in the Puerto Rican’s boxing body. He is always in good shape, has a sturdy punch resistance and comes to fight, which usually leads to entertaining affairs.
In Santa Cruz’s case, the young Mexican buzzsaw opened eyes with his title winning effort as part of the Lateef Kayode-Antonio Tarver undercard in June 2012. It was exhausting just to watch as Santa Cruz overwhelmed Vusi Maligna with a nonstop arsenal of punches from all angles and directions. The Mexican also showed significant boxing aptitude, utilizing lateral movements and exhibiting a good understanding of distance and timing. Overall, it was an impressive performance.
If Morel is in a fighting mood and not only looking for a payday, this fight also has great potential, as Santa Cruz’s palpable activity level is sure to not only provide a lot of sustained action throughout the contest, but provide Morel with plenty of chances to counter if he can keep up with the pace. Add in the fact that both fighters’ records indicate that this will be a distance fight, as neither combatant has a high knockout rate.
Rounding out the card is another great matchup: WBC Featherweight kingpin Jhonny Gonzalez (52-7, 45 KOs), hailing from Mexico City, putting his belt on the line when he faces former WBO Super Bantamweight titlist Daniel Ponce de Leon (43-4, 35 KOs) from Huntington Park, California by way of Ciudad, Cuauhtemoc, Mexico. The fight is scheduled for 12 rounds and the leather is sure to fly early and often.
Fans who have seen Ponce de Leon know that this southpaw destroyer is going come forward, awkwardly advancing on his prey, unloading heavy bombs for as long as the fight lasts. Always in supreme condition and as naturally strong as the day is long, Ponce de Leon keeps stalking as, due to his limited ability, he has no other choice. The good news is that Gonzalez does not need to be stalked as he makes himself available instantly.
The champion is a more polished technician than his adversary but, in the end, still likes to mix it up and has the power to do it. Gonzalez, as tall and rangy as he is for the weight, is also an educated inside fighter that utilizes great body punching tactics to go with a monstrous uppercut. His hands are not fast, but his punch accuracy does compensate for this as Gonzalez is precise and very effective. His activity level is also high, so some form of contact will be present throughout the duration of this battle.
It is anyone’s guess if this fight will go the distance or end via quick knockout but it is guaranteed to be exciting for as long as it lasts.
This overall assessment does strongly suggest that Golden Boy Promotions is giving fans a much stronger support system for Alvarez-Lopez than Top Rank is for Martinez-Chavez Jr.
Will this be enough in the eyes of the fans to offset the perceived disparities in regards to headliners of each event? Is the Martinez-Chavez Jr. contest strong enough to stand alone? Early ticket sale numbers indicate that it just might be enough, as it is an intriguing fight.
The September 15 numbers will ultimately answer these questions.