Martinez decisions Chavez widely after a pair of incredibly close minutes
By Bart Barry (Ringside)
LAS VEGAS – And in an instant, Martinez-Chavez went from Pacquiao-De La Hoya to Chavez-Taylor.
Not since Manny Pacquiao retired Oscar De La Hoya had a small southpaw looked so profoundly dominant against a larger titlist as Sergio Martinez looked against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for 11 rounds. And not since Chavez Sr. came back to stop Meldrick Taylor in the final seconds of a fight he was losing lopsidedly had such a profound change of fortunes been brought to a world champion the way Chavez brought it to Martinez in the 12th.
Saturday night, in a match at Thomas & Mack Arena that disappointed all expectations of suspense for 33 minutes before becoming an unforgettable thing in its final three, Argentine middleweight champion Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez (50-2-2, 28 KOs) rose from the canvas in the final round to survive and decision Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-1-1-1, 32 KOs) by unanimous scores of 117-110, 118-109 and 118-109. The 15rounds.com ringside scorecard concurred, marking 117-110 for Martinez – while marking the final round 10-7 for Chavez.
“We are two professionals,” Martinez said afterwards. “And we comported ourselves as professionals.”
The fight began the way all prognosticators believed it would. Martinez’s class was too much for Chavez in the first round and each of its successors. What little sense of geometry Chavez showed in the opening round, extending Martinez’s circles to the perimeter somewhat, was gone by the third.
“I began slowly,” Chavez said in the ring after the judges’ cards were read. “But I will not do that in the rematch.”
In fact, not till the sixth round did Chavez land anything consequential. Though Chavez was the much larger man, Martinez was the far more balletic, polished, athletic and accurate, hitting Chavez with nifty left uppercut leads and other inventive combinations. Chavez, sporting a knee brace and suffering abrasions and swelling round both eyes, was not dissuaded, however.
“This confirms me in boxing,” said Martinez, to an outnumbered but surprisingly vocal Argentinean group of fans. “Long live Argentina!”
More fatigued than he knew as the bell for the 12th rang, Martinez walked into a short Chavez left hook that wobbled and shocked him in the final two minutes. Martinez’s eyes bulged and he collapsed in the ropes. A pair of rights and lefts from Chavez then tossed him limply to the canvas. But Martinez rose, ran, held, slipped, and ultimately punched his way to the final bell, as suddenly enchanted Mexican fans rabidly urged their man on.
“Of course,” Martinez said when asked if he would grant Chavez a rematch.
“Long live Mexico!” cried Chavez at the end of his postfight interview.
ROMAN MARTINEZ VS. MIGUEL BELTRAN JR.
In an attempt at prophecy, or at least wishful thinking, Saturday’s excellent Top Rank co-main event featured a hard-pressing Mexican slugger named “Junior” against a foreigner named Martinez. Unfortunately for the emotional Mexican crowd, the Mexican did not prevail.
Fighting for a vacant WBO super featherweight title, Puerto Rican Roman Martinez (26-1-1, 16 KOs) sneaked past Mexican Miguel Beltran Jr. (27-2-0-1, 17 KOs), besting him by split-decision scores of 116-111, 113-114 and 113-114. The fight would have been a majority draw, were it not for a penalty assessed to Beltran in the championship rounds.
Each round of Martinez-Beltran featured punches both well leveraged and well landed by both fighters, but in each of the opening six rounds, regardless of what Martinez did, Beltran appeared to do a little more. In the sixth, Beltran landed the match’s most-devastating punch, a right cross that snapped Martinez’s head back between his own shoulder blades.
The seventh round, though, saw Martinez begin to establish a more effective attack, catching Beltran on the way in, with oddly placed punches. But by the middle of the eighth, Beltran again appeared the stronger man. By the end of the 10th, Martinez, game as he was, did not appear to want much more.
The 11th brought a point deduction to Beltran’s tally from overly officious Nevada referee Russell Mora, though, tightening ringside scorecards somewhat. Martinez also flurried in the 12th, appearing to steal that stanza as well. Ultimately, the fight was a close one that might have gone either way and probably should have gone the way of a majority draw.
MATTHEW MACKLIN VS. JOACHIM ALCINE
Matthew Macklin makes his ring entrance to a hybrid song of “Mack the Knife” and “Rocky Road to Dublin,” in a two-part nod to his nickname and heritage. But Saturday, he didn’t have to take his opponent very far down a rocky road before knifing him.
In the penultimate match of the evening’s undercard, Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs) caught Canadian middleweight Joachim Alcine (33-3-1, 19 KOs) with a flush right cross in the opening moments of the fight then marched him down, dropped him a second time and brought the match to an exciting knockout conclusion at 2:36 of round 1.
Despite a record with four losses on it, Macklin again proved that he can rally a crowd and make an exciting, satisfying match whomever he is given for an opponent.
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX VS. ROBERTO MARROQUIN
After a 2010 showing in Cowboys Stadium that brought loud boos from those fans not yawning, Cuban super bantamweight Guillermo Rigondeaux needed two years of exciting knockouts to make fans forget how displeasing his defense-first style can be. Saturday in Thomas & Mack Arena, though, they were reminded once more.
Rigondeaux (11-0, 8 KOs) successfully, and rather easily, defended his WBA super bantamweight title against tough if limited Texan Roberto Marroquin (22-2, 15 KOs) by unanimous scores of 118-108, 118-108 and 118-109. And if there is a prizefighter today who fights like Floyd Mayweather as well as Mayweather does, he is Rigondeaux, right down to the cautiousness.
Rigondeaux established a superiority of reflex over Marroquin – a superiority of reflex Rigondeaux enjoys over most every opponent he faces – and then put the match on a form of cruise control that did little to entice fans. Possessed of every punch and step in the boxing lexicon, Rigondeaux does not appear to enjoy physical matches with larger men, and he certainly did not look for one with Marroquin, who appeared a weight class or two larger than Rigondeaux on Saturday.
Twice in the match Marroquin managed to land a pulled left hook that temporarily destabilized the Cuban southpaw’s otherwise flawless footing, but from each of those faux scares, Rigondeaux quickly recovered and returned to mastering Marroquin technically if not combatively.
In round 10, bored by Rigondeaux-Marroquin, the crowd – partisan Mexican though with an Argentinean contingent – began to sing futbol songs at one another till the match was over, despite Rigondeaux’s scoring the match’s one knockdown in its final two minutes.
MIKE LEE VS. PAUL HARNESS
Mike Lee is undoubtedly the best light heavyweight on the Notre Dame campus, but he is decidedly not the best light heavyweight in the world. Further evidence of this came at the midway point of Saturday’s undercard when Lee (11-0, 6 KOs) whacked away at Kansas City opponent Paul Harness (4-4-1, 3 KOs) for four rounds and ultimately prevailed by unanmious scores of 40-36, 40-36 and 40-36.
Questions about Lee’s power – he landed at least four clean right hands in every round without once felling Harness – and his defense, though, remain, and grow, with every showing. Despite leading comfortably in the fourth round, Lee nevertheless was tagged by several knee-buckling shots by Harness.
Highly regarded super welterweight John Jackson brought his undefeated record in the Thomas & Mack Center ring for Saturday’s third bout, against Cleveland’s Willie Nelson, and Jackson’s ‘0’ left the ring before Jackson did. In a close fight that might have been scored either way, Nelson (19-1-1, 11
KOs) decisioned Nelson (13-1, 12 KOs) by unanimous scores of 96-94, 96-94 and 98-92.
Before that, in an eight-round super welterweight match, Mexican Michael Medina (26-3-2, 19 KOs) scored a lopsided decision victory over North Carolinian James Winchester (15-5, 5 KOs). All three judges had the match 80-70 for Medina.
The evening began with an eight-round, unanimous-decision victory for California welterweight Wale Omotoso (23-0, 19 KOs) over Puerto Rican Daniel Sostre (11-7-1, 4 KOs).
Opening bell rang on a sparsely populated Thomas & Mack Center at 3:17 PM local time.