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Martinez vs. Chavez Jr: “Nature versus Nurture”

by Marc Livitz: Provided the Mayan prophecy doesn’t turn us all inside out and upside down, we may find anywhere from a glimmer to a thermal radiation flash’s worth of excitement in the time left for boxing in 2012. There’s always hope for a sport which although is somewhat in the periphery of many continues to refresh itself in so many different ways.

The gym ghosts of years past are not exactly smiling, but they are at least maintaining a healthy smirk. Outside of the consistent barrage of “the big one”, various promoters have managed to see the light and throw together some interesting contests for the fall. As most of us know by now, the middleweight title (most of it) will be on the line in two weeks’ time.

A matchup between Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. and Sergio Martinez should satiate even the most discriminating pugilistic palate. So many in and around the fight game swore to the gills that little Julio was struck with terror in regards to a night in the ring with “Maravilla”.

It can be quite interesting how other fighters are given the hall pass for “a bit more time and a few more fights”, yet Chavez was basically subjugated ala’ a boot to the throat over his questionable undefeated record. He’s been able to beat up and walk down his last several opponents, although his victory over Sebastian Zbik in June 2011 for the WBC title reminded all too many of a youth league where everyone gets a trophy.

Nevertheless, here we are and here we go! Saturday, September 15…Las Vegas; the fight capital of the world.

Julio’s not scared. The fight so many wanted to see is now a reality. It’s still but a daydream that a particular congressman and a certain Vegas resident would take notice of how sometimes the show must go on or the crowd could go away. Judging by HBO’s enlightening set of programs last weekend, we may have viewed who Chavez, Jr. should worry about the most. Himself.

The cameras rolled and followed the champion around for two days in El Paso a few months ago as the time ticked away towards his tussle with Irishman Andy Lee. It’s become common knowledge that Julio goes balloonio between contests. From punchy to paunchy. His weight gets close to 190 pounds or more.

There’s nothing wrong with weighing the same as the common man in relation to his six foot frame, yet a rapid deprivation of basic human comforts to make 160 in a very short time is not advisable. Such is the case at any weight. Just ask Ricky Hatton. “Two Days” is the title given to HBO’s documentary. Based on the decrepit appearance of Chavez, Jr. as the weigh-in drew closer, perhaps the program should have been called “Two Days…….To Live”.

Granted, he got the job done in the ring with a seventh round TKO victory over Lee. It left him with virtually nowhere else to go.

Although many still clamor to see the second or further distant favorite son of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico face off with a well known anomalous redhead from the Mexican state of Jalisco, the one we’re set to see instead looks great on paper and in the active imagination. The same method of madness in training will not work as easily for Julio against Sergio Martinez as it has in the past. Sergio’s no tomato can. He’s closer to an aged bottle of Cristal.

The two fighters met recently against HBO’s slab of steel tables and chairs for the curtain raiser to pre-fight build up that is known as “Face Off”. Each side was all smiles and anecdotes. Many writers and fans alike have alluded to the fact that the grimace across the face of Chavez, Jr. may have shown signs of an eventual walkover for the man from Argentina. I

n February of 2000, two Mexican legends named Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera faced off for the first of what would be three epic wars between the two. The undercard featured Sergio Martinez in a bout with another well known Mexican fighter, Antonio Margarito. Martinez was stopped in seven that night. Martinez must have undoubtedly learned from past mistakes because he has yet to repeat them.

There are even rumblings about that Margarito may have had the assistance of Parisian plaster that night. It’s all so easy to say now, yet even still….the fight was so long ago. Bill Clinton was president at the time. Julio was about fourteen years old then. Rather silly for Julio, Jr. to bring it up on the “Face Off” telecast, even though it was presented in the form of a question. “Do you remember the last time you lost to a Mexican in Las Vegas?”, was the query directed at the Argentine champion.

The grinning continued and all that was missing was a glass divider between the two gentlemen. This week, his stock didn’t increase much after some vandals trashed Sergio’s car while he was in a training session. Is there anything more chicken little than damaging another man’s vehicle? That almost reeks of insecurity.

The intrigue over this fight has grown over the last year or so. Based on their respective performances and perhaps more substantially the differences in competition, a bout between the two appeared as an easy victory for Sergio Martinez. He would crush Chavez, Jr. Since then, Julio has made some great strides in the ring.

We now found ourselves in late 2012 and the fight should be more of a toss-up. Yes, it should and it just might be. Unless he tries to melt away the excess poundage in a dangerous fashion as he has previously done, Julio should present a great challenge to Sergio. We can only hope history is not on his side.