Chavez upsets Martinez on the scale
By Bart Barry
LAS VEGAS – The weekend’s first upset happened Friday, and it wasn’t by way of a punch at Thomas & Mack Center. In what may turn out to be the greatest surprise of Martinez-Chavez, barring of course an early stoppage, Argentine Sergio Martinez outweighed Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Friday afternoon at Wynn Las Vegas’ Encore Theater. But if either man was surprised, neither showed it.
Martinez, considered by most to be a small middleweight champion, and Chavez, considered by all to be an enormous middleweight titlist, shared a one-pound disparity on the scale: Martinez made 159, and Chavez made 158.
“He said it’s going to be a war,” Martinez said immediately after a talkative stare-down with Chavez that followed both making weight for their middleweight world championship match. “I want a war.”
Martinez, known as much for his cool demeanor and handsome countenance as his jazzy southpaw style, appeared uncharacteristically anxious Friday afternoon. Dressed in a black sweatsuit and dark shades, Martinez preceded Chavez to the stage and the scale and made a show of rallying a small Argentinean contingent waiving robin’s-egg-blue and white flags, stage left.
“He said that he is going to rip my head off,” said Chavez, when asked what words Martinez spoke to him after he climbed off the scale. Then Chavez, easily the cooler character Friday, laughed and shrugged.
While Saturday’s match for the lineal middleweight championship of the world – along with belts from The Ring, WBC and surely a few others – will be the biggest fight of both men’s careers, Chavez shows the demeanor of a man who knows other superfights will inevitably follow. Martinez, about whom the same cannot be said, appears to be channeling some of his handlers’ nervousness.
Part of what led to onlookers’ general surprise at Friday’s weighin, and specifically Chavez’s coming-in two pounds under the middleweight limit, were reports of undertraining by the Mexican champion. Numerous sources reported Chavez had skipped scheduled sessions with trainer Freddie Roach during his camp, preferring to work-out at home instead.
But Chavez’s promoter, Top Rank, expressed no concern. Chavez made weight easily, and apparently needs little instruction in how to cut-off a prizefighting ring, as he is expected to have to do against Martinez on Saturday.
Early Friday afternoon, one last thread of controversy was stitched in the Martinez-Chavez tapestry: Trainer Nazim Richardson will attend the wrapping of Chavez’s hands in behalf of the Martinez camp, Saturday. Richardson, of course, was the man who caught a hardening substance on the wraps of Antonio Margarito before the Mexican champion’s 2009 match with Shane Mosley.
Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer said on Friday that while he’ll be at both of Saturday’s fight cards – Martinez-Chavez, and Saul Alvarez vs. Josesito Lopez a few blocks away at MGM Grand Garden Arena – the main event he’ll be attending is Chavez-Martinez, as Kizer anticipates potential prefight controversy at Thomas & Mack Center.