by Geoffrey Ciani – Ever since Sergio Martinez scored a devastating second round knockout against Paul Williams, he has been gunning for a big name opponent. Unfortunately for Martinez, he was unsuccessful in his attempts to lure boxing superstars Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao into the squared circle. Therefore the 2010 ‘Fighter of the Year’ has been biding his time, having spent the last couple of years taking on lesser known competition in the forms of Serhiy Dzinziruk, Darren Barker, and Matthew Macklin. This Saturday night Martinez will finally get his chance to shine when he takes on Julio Cesar Chavez Junior.
The son of a legend, Chavez’s career was initially viewed as nothing more than a cheap gimmick to cash in on his father’s name. He has since, however, shown vast improvement and began carving out a mark of his own. This was best illustrated in his most recent performance when he overpowered Andy Lee for a seventh round stoppage in June. Chavez is a big strong middleweight who frequently enters the ring well above the official 160 pound middleweight limit on fight night. He is a brutal body puncher whose sheer size and power have enabled him to officially remain undefeated through 48 professional contests.
The story of this match will most likely be determined by how well Chavez can react to Martinez’s punches. If he can withstand Sergio’s shots the same way he absorbed those of his previous two opponents, Marco Antonio Rubio and Lee, then this might wind up being a long night for Martinez. This, however, might prove trickier than it appears on the surface because raw punching power alone will not determine how well Chavez takes Martinez’s best shots. Unlike Rubio and Lee, Martinez is more unorthodox in his approach and is better at utilizing unusual punching angles. This means that Chavez must be aware of the type of shots that cause the most damage, which are of course those that you never see coming.
So who will emerge victorious?
Martinez is the better ring technician and I fully expect him to jump out to an early lead by using his superior skills, speed, and ring generalship. I believe Martinez will confuse Chavez and prevent him from finding his rhythm by giving him angles and maneuvering him into unfavorable positions. Martinez should do a better job maintaining his optimal fighting range, especially through the first three or four rounds when Chavez will take some time getting warmed up and adjusted to Sergio’s style so he can find opportunities to capitalize on the openings afforded to him. Chavez will begin to have isolated moments of success as the opening rounds progress, but Martinez should be able to control the action through his prevailing talent.
By the fifth round, Chavez will find himself in a hole and will begin to dig deeper as he better familiarizes himself with the awkward approach from Sergio. Chavez will begin having greater success during the middle stanzas when the action intensifies as Sergio begins taking more and more unnecessary risks. I expect the middle rounds to be close, competitive, and crowd-pleasing, but whether or not Chavez actually does enough to win these rounds will largely depend on the individual tastes and preferences of the judges at ringside. I expect Chavez to peak around the seventh and eighth rounds while a determined Martinez mixes it up more than needed, much to the delight of the audience.
Over the final third of the fight, I anticipate that Martinez will resume full control due to his superior experience, ring IQ, and conditioning. Chavez will no doubt continue trying, but heart alone will not be enough. Martinez will begin finding the mark with greater regularity as Chavez slows down and finally begins feeling the full impact of the weight fluctuation that has long stood out as a red flag in his career. Sergio will find himself in complete command of the range just prior to the start of the championship rounds, as he lands a variety of different punches with both hands. The more Chavez loses steam, the more emboldened Martinez will become, which will cause him to start throwing more short combinations where he starts digging in and really committing to his shots.
By the final round, an exhausted Chavez will get caught with a big left hand he never sees coming that will leave him on shaky legs. Cool as an assassin, Martinez will patiently move in for the kill, maintaining his balance as he unleashes a barrage of punches with mixed power, putting full force behind those shots when the openings are widest. A bedazzled Chavez will find himself hopelessly pinned against the ropes as Martinez unleashes his fury. Ultimately Chavez will succumb to the all out assault and crumple to the canvas, forcing the referee to call a halt to the action.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Sergio Martinez TKO12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
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