SAN DIEGO – September 16, 2012 – Out of a dozen fights in Las Vegas Saturday night at two sold-out venues, the last round of the final fight of the evening will be the one everyone is talking about today, tomorrow and for months and years to come.
Sergio Martinez promised his fight with Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. would be a war, and it was a war. But it was Chavez who launched the last attack and he hit the target. He fired too late, and Martinez hung on to survive the 12th round and win a unanimous decision over Chavez.
The scorecards had it 117-110, and 118-109 on the other two. Martinez dominated Chavez for the first 11 rounds, winning them all without question. At times it was like watching a cat playing with a mouse before it kills it.
Martinez hit Chavez with 80 body shots and over 200 blows to the head. By contrast, Chavez landed 141 punches to Martinez’ head and only 37 body shots.
Martinez controlled the ring throughout the fight. He showed his trademark speed, was light on his feet and moving throughout. He showed as much freshness in the 10th round as he did in the first round, a testament to his superb conditioning. It is hard to believe Martinez is 37 years old.
It was that conditioning that allowed Martinez to survive the unexpected, mind-blowing 12th round in which Chavez came within a whisker of knocking out Martinez to win, after being soundly beaten over the first 11 and a half rounds. Fans like me are still recovering from the adrenaline rush of it all.
Chavez simply couldn’t seem to get going or figure out Martinez’ style of boxing, and he freely admitted it in the post-fight news conference. Martinez threw triple the punches Chavez did by the end of the fight, including 108 punches in the 10th round. That’s not a typo, the 10th round. There is no boxer with more stamina than Sergio Martinez, a tribute to his work ethic and his experience being a soccer player and cyclist until he was 20.
After the 10th round, trainer Freddie Roach told Chavez he had lost every round, and he would need a knockout to win. In the final round, Chavez dug deep and found something none of us knew he possessed. Perhaps not even himself. He came at Martinez and halfway through the round, hit him with a hard left. Martinez was down, and the crowd was on its feet in shock.
Martinez got to his feet, and with 90 seconds left it was expected Martinez would clinch, avoid any more punishment and simply get to the end of the fight. Instead, Martinez got up swinging and kept engaging Chavez, getting the worst of it. Chavez dug deep, gave it every last bit he had to try and finish Martinez off.
The clock was Sergio Martinez’s friend. It saved him from losing the fight in the final round, and it took away round after round from Chavez from the start of the fight when he simply did not hit the gas.
Chavez said it was not Martinez’ speed but his style. “I couldn’t get to him. I started very late. I gave away too many rounds, and that is why I lost the fight. Next time I will throw more punches.”
To his credit, Chavez offered no excuses. “He beat me correctly, he outpointed me.” Chavez denied Martinez hurt him, despite the obvious damage to his face. His left eye was grossly swollen and he looked like he had been worked over with brass knuckles in an alley by a few wise guys to make a point.
Chavez said, “In life you lose and you win. But I lost with dignity and I tried my best.” Every person who ever doubted that his heart was really in the sport has no doubt now. Chavez Jr. may have won something more important than a single fight. He won respect.
Martinez said he lost his stability when Chavez hit him in the 12th round. He called it a tough loss for Julio. “Today was a great show in the ring. Mexicans and Argentines, we put on a great show together.”
But why did Martinez risk losing to a knockout in the last round and engage Chavez instead of doing what he needed to survive? “For 11 rounds, I worked very hard. I won every round of the 11. In the last round, he hit me. He hurt me. But I continued because I am a warrior.”
The great British heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis commented on Twitter after the fight, “The drama of boxing is that you can totally outclass your opponent, and still lose on a big punch. That’s why we pay to see it.”
Martinez promised if the two fight again, “This time I will beat him up for 11 rounds and add the 12th round.” Martinez said he would fight anyone, anytime, anywhere. He said he would start training tomorrow for a rematch.
Promoter Bob Arum said he had already heard from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, offering up Cowboys Stadium for a rematch. Promoter Lou DiBella who works with Martinez called it the perfect venue. “When you have lightning in a bottle, you don’t let it go,” said DiBella. He said Martinez will be going on vacation, “But my phone lines are always open.” DiBella pointed out that Martinez is now a superstar with a lot of opportunities, and any future fight “would not be on the same economic terms.” Chavez Jr. made $3 million plus pay-per-view percentage; Martinez made $1.4 million. There was no rematch clause in their contract.
That is what sports excitement is all about. Sergio Martinez is a warrior of unprecedented toughness. He had to be, because Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. surprised us all by summoning the fortitude he needed in that last round we didn’t know he had in him. Was it the DNA of his legendary boxing father emerging? Maybe. Chavez learned a lot in this bout, and it will serve him well going forward.
Now both fighters know that Chavez can hurt Martinez. But can he finish him? I have no doubt there will be a rematch, and the anticipation will match anything the sport of boxing has to offer.
My prediction: we will see a rematch fight at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday, May 4, 2013; a Cinco de Mayo blockbuster.
For now, HBO will air a replay of this marvelous fight next Saturday, September 22, at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Run, don’t walk to your front row seat and be sure you see this one for yourself.
In the undercard fights, Matthew Macklin scored a first round knockout over Joachim Alcine of Canada. If you weren’t in your seat you missed this one.
In a classic battle of Puerto Rican vs. Mexican fighters, Roman Martinez won a narrow decision over Miguel Beltran. It was an action packed fight, so close that the margin of victory was a single point taken off Beltran’s scorecard by the referee for hitting behind the head. Yes, he had been warned about it, but it was a frustrating outcome and not one worthy of the effort these two tremendous fighters put in.
Cuban Olympic and amateur superstar turned professional Guillermo Rigondeaux beat challenger Roberto Marroquin of Texas, but Marroquin put on a good fight, showed lots of promise and earned the right to some good fights in the future. Due credit to Marroquin for taking the fight when he had no idea who the opponent would be due to several last minute scheduling issues. In a fight not aired, light heavyweight Mike Lee won a decision over Paul Harness. You may know Lee from his Subway commercials. He’s an honors graduate of Notre Dame with a business degree, a character and one to watch.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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