A lot of people tell me that I sound a lot like my father. I thought that was where the similarities ended, but last night I discovered I’ve inherited one of his most strangest traits: I shout at TV screens when I don’t see what I like.
What I didn’t like was every moment Sergio Martinez was in the corner and on the ropes where Julio Caesar Chavez Jr could land on him at will.
For the most part though, Martinez did exactly what he had to do. With his superior footwork and hand speed, he was able to get the better of his younger opponent for the first ten rounds. Due to the volume levels in the sports bar, I couldn’t hear all that was being said between rounds but I could hear Freddie Roach telling Julio that he was prepared to stop the fight. I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t telling him, “You gotta cut off the ring like we trained.” Julio Sr. also was trying to give advice between rounds but it was all for naught.
Going into the last round, I had Martinez winning the first ten and Chavez the previous round. But as soon as Sergio started to get caught, the mostly quiet sports bar started to erupt into loud cheers, most of us leaping off our stools.
“GET OFF THE ROPES,” I bellowed just before Martinez was sent to the canvas. My heart was pounding like mad, almost as if I was his trainer and trying to will my fighter to keep going. For a split second when Sergio bent down to touch his toes after getting up I thought he was ready to go down again. It may have been a bit of stalling on his part but it worked. I’m also surprised that he didn’t spend the rest of the round in a clinch (Were there any clinches in this fight?) but when that last bell rang, I raised my hands in the air, knowing that the fighter I picked had survived.
Next to me was a frustrated Chavez fan who kept groaning after each round ended.
“Why didn’t he do that before?” he asked of Chavez in regards to the 12th round.
Personally, that’s a question I was asking myself.
A lot of boxing fans on Twitter were saying that because Julio’s godfather is Jose Sulaiman, president of the WBC, the only way Sergio could win was by knockout. The scores however were never a controversial factor in the fight and the right man won.
Afterwards Chavez admitted that he started too slowly.
Why? Sergio one of the best conditioned fighters in the sport today and can fight just as well in round 12 as he did in round 2, starting slowly is the last thing you ever want to do against him.
However, I will say that Chavez did show a lot of heart. To be able to will yourself to keep throwing punches when everybody knew he was way behind on points, knowing that there’s still a puncher’s chance to get him out and to come SO close… a lot of other fighters would have been comfortable with making it to the final bell.
Where does Julio go from here? Well, there’s talk of a rematch but let’s slow down on that talk for a while. Sergio broke his left hand in the fourth round and was still dominating the fight so at the moment, work should be done on improving his game. Improve that footwork, cut off the ring a lot better and throw punches at all times. Maybe after three fights, depending on how they go, a rematch in Cowboy’s Stadium.
As for Sergio, don’t expect him to go up to 168 to fight Andre Ward. It would be exciting but in reality, Sergio is a 154lb fighter who just happens to fight at 160. Where the real money can be found is…Money himself. Yeah, I say now’s a great time for a Mayweather/Martinez fight at 154. We’ve seen Floyd can fight just as well at 154 and Sergio would probably have no problem making weight. If anything, it’s a win-win for Sergio.
If he wins, he’s beaten one of the best fighters of this or any era. If he loses, he goes back to 160 where he’s still champ and continues to fight until he says that’s it.
Either way, the future looks pretty bright for Sergio Martinez. As of right now, I see him as a clear frontrunner for Fighter of the Year.