By Andreas Hale
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
To say that there has been bad blood between Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs) and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (46-1, 32 KOs, 1 No Contest) heading into their September 15 middleweight title clash at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas would be an understatement. Ever since the fight was announced, Sergio Martinez has flipped a switch and uncharacteristically bad mouthed the son of a legend at every turn. Maybe it’s head games, maybe not. But on a recent conference call for both fighters, their respective motivations became more crystallized.
“I cannot accept the fact he is world champion,” the Argentinean stated. “The only reason he is world champion is because he is Julio César Chávez Jr., the son of the legend and his mouth is so big – even bigger than his own brain and he’s talking too much.”
Martinez’ promoter Lou DiBella expanded on Martinez’ reasons as to why he has been so irritated with Chavez Jr. “There is a contrast on how these guys were raised and who they are,” DiBella explained. Citing that the Chavez name has given young Julio a ton of opportunity while Martinez had to struggle, he believes that Martinez has been incensed by this reality.
“Sergio Martínez was raised in a slum, the worst ghetto in Argentina, with no shoes. He had to fight his way thru bullies just to get to school,” DiBella continued. “He had to go to Europe to fight for peanuts. He got $900 to fight Antonio Margarito. It took him until his early 30’s to become a name or an attraction in boxing. Contrast the superstar kid, son of the legend whose had everything on a silver platter and the other had to work his ass off to get it.”
It’s evident that Martinez has a point to prove on Saturday night. While Chavez may be the draw thanks to careful matchmaking, The Ring middleweight champion is determined to expose him as a fraud and snare the WBC middleweight title while he’s at it. He still promises a knockout and sees no reason why that wouldn’t be the end result.
“Regardless of the best preparation of his entire career, it would not make a difference; I will knock him out anyway,” Martinez said. “I believe that I am No. 2 in this sport, so that is good enough to know that I will beat him. He cannot beat me. I know that I am better than him.”
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has not been entertained by his opponent’s antics as they criticisms are nothing new for the son of a legend. Ever since he laced up his first pair of gloves, the skeptics have come in droves. These days, Chavez takes it all in stride as he knows what the task at hand is.
“I can’t help that people say that stuff about me,” Chavez explained. “I am the son and that is who I am. He is my dad, but little by little I have proven myself in the ring. You have seen what I have done in the ring the past few fights. You can’t take that away from me – my victories and my championship. I have my own story now.”
September 15 is a big day for Chavez. Not only will he be able to dispatch of his foe, but it will be the day he can step out of the shadow of his legendary father. Nobody feels the pressure more than Chavez Jr. Thankfully, his father is doing his best during camp to help ease the pressure heading into the biggest fight of his career.
“He has always been a great supporter of me,” the younger Chavez said. “He’s always been there when I needed him. He’s willing to help me any way he can. I look forward to him being here so we can talk about things.”
One of the things that he has been talking about with his father, as well as trainer Freddie Roach, is just how he’ll neutralize the tremendous athletic ability of Martinez. One of the keys will be using all of his 6’1″ frame that could weigh somewhere in the upper 170s on fight night. “I know I am bigger and stronger than he is but I know I need to box,” Chavez said. “You are going to see a complete boxer who is able to do a lot of things.”
Freddie Roach echoed those sentiments and also stated that Team Chavez will deploy a ruthless body attack to break down the 37-year-old’s will and slow him down. “Martínez is a smaller guy so it will be a little harder to get to his body,” Roach said. “But we have a plan to set traps to catch him on the ropes and break the body down and take his legs away from him. It’s a difficult task but something we have been working on and something we plan on doing well.’
Ultimately, Saturday night will prove whether or not Chavez belongs amongst boxing’s elite. Meanwhile, Martinez will look to seize the moment in front of a likely partisan crowd in Las Vegas. It’s a fight where both of their future’s will be changed forever.
Who will come out on top?