LA MORDIDA: Sergio Martinez W12 Julio César Chávez Jr.


For eleven rounds, Julio César Chávez, Jr., resembled Jackie Bibby, the Fort Worth, Texas, man who holds the world record for lying in a tub full of rattlesnakes. Except, for Chávez, the snakes were biting—hard. But Chávez nearly pulled off a remarkable upset when he dropped Sergio Martinez with just over a minute to go in their sold-out fiesta at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Unable to finish a groggy Martinez, Chávez instead had to settle for losing a lopsided unanimous decision. Final scores were 118-109, 117-109, and 118-109.

Even before the opening bell rang, Chávez, 46-1-1-1 (32), looked like he was in for a long night. With a training regimen based on equal parts feng shui and pajama party etiquette, Chávez entered the ring with a “For Whom the Bells Toll” look about him. That he lasted as long as he did is testament to a perverse will that saw him play out the “No Pain, No Gain” mantra in the ring rather than in camp. It was a curious tradeoff. What Chávez calls training is merely an excuse to work up a sweat for a refreshing swim. Despite the fact that he went 12 rounds with the best middleweight in the world, scored a knockdown, and showed the mettle some suspected he lacked, one gets the feeling that his wayward attitude will never change. It was a credible performance for a man who was doubly cursed the moment he left his locker room: first by having to swap punches with a far superior fighter; and, second, by having a work ethic unequal to the arduous task he faced. Nothing less than a perfectly-trained Chávez was going to get the job done against Martinez last night, and when he decided to play Twister in his rented living room, he surrendered any chance he had of being competitive from bell to bell.

Not only did Chávez, Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, appear to be poorly trained for this fight, but he also seemed at a loss as to how to deal with Martinez. Letting Martinez set up on the perimeter is a disastrous strategy for anyone who answers the bell against him. By far the most reliable way to be smacked around by a shifty southpaw with fast hands is to wade in without a jab, lean over to set your feet, and crank up left hooks from a distance. Chávez, 158, tipped off nearly everything he threw, and Martinez, 50-2-2 (28), was a step ahead of him for most of the night.

Chávez opened slowly, letting Martinez, 159, dictate the pace, and he never really gained steam during the first quarter of the bout. Over the next few rounds, Martinez rattled off quick shots while Chávez hopelessly chased after him. Now and then, Martinez, Oxnard, California via Buenos Aires, Argentina, would switch up and drive Chávez back with combinations thrown in rapid succession. Again and again Martinez, beat Chávez to the punch, and Chávez, blood dripping from his nose and mouth, an ugly welt forming above his left eye, began to wilt in the middle rounds. By then, Martinez was in command and he knew it. Before long, he was hot-dogging and winding up flashy windmill shots. Occasionally, Chávez managed to corner Martinez, where he tried to open up with both hands. A few lefts and some sweeping rights connected here and there, but Chávez had trouble landing his hook in the trenches. Turning his shoulder on the inside to create a small target, Martinez nullified many of the hooks Chávez hurled at him from close range.

More often than not, Chávez found himself often fighting like a man with two left feet, and his punch output dropped dramatically as Martinez worked him over from round to round. It is incredible to see a fighter like Martinez cross his feet right in front of his opponent without paying for it, but Chávez was not quick enough to take advantage of this schoolyard flaw. Nor could Chávez, 26, close the gap, however, and he settled for taking what he could get whenever Martinez allowed him on the inside.

Despite his futility, Chávez inched closer in the 11th as Martinez, 37, decelerated. Showing the moxie he neglects in training, Chávez willingly mixed it up with Martinez in hopes of landing a shot that would leave “Maravilla” hearing the sounds of distant accordions. In the 12th, Chávez bulled Martinez across the ring, where he landed a hard straight right. Seconds later, a left hook sent Martinez stumbling into the ropes like a man too friendly with aguardiente, and a followup barrage sent Martinez crashing in a heap of twisted limbs. A bloody Martinez beat the count and fought back as Chávez swarmed. With about a minute to go, Martinez gained a few precious seconds of rest when he slipped to the canvas after some grappling. He was slow getting up—likely by design—and rode out the perilous last forty-five seconds of the fight.

With the win, Martinez again demonstrated his unique style—to a sizeable audience, for once—and he now has a chance to earn the phantom popularity that was prematurely bestowed upon him by boxing fantasists across cyberspace. But you have to wonder—unless you happen to be a publicist or a moon-faced teenybopper, of course—if Martinez gets extra P-4-P Points for barely making it to the final bell against a fighter derided as a fraud for nearly a decade. That, no doubt, is a question for the self-appointed tastemakers in boxing to answer.

As for Chávez, he has been a running joke for years. Rumors, slights, and slurs have assailed Chávez the way angry honey bees assail those who disturb their hives. Will they stop now that he has lasted the distance against Martinez? Will they stop now that he fought through blood and fatigue while trailing badly on the scorecards against a middleweight whose mythomania has dominated boxing for over two years? Will they stop now that he was within a few punches of pulling off the improbable? You might as well lie down in a tub full of rattlesnakes if you can believe the answer is “yes.”


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  • R

    Didn’t like when Chavez yeah yeah yeah’d Freddie roach in the corner when he was trying to give him tips about how to regain control of the fight. He seems to have a lazy and disrespectful attitude, and it really showed during HBO’s 24/7 reality show. Leaving Freddie at the gym waiting, and never showing up for training is not the way to prepare for a tough p for p great. Its too bad, because I feel that with his talent Chavez under Roach could be among boxings elite.

    • thenonpareil

      Hi R,

      I watched the fight twice and Chavez was actually yelling at his father and his brother, who had been badgering him like mad from their seats, which were very close to Chavez’ corner.

  • TheJPF


    I knew the dream was over and I couldn’t bring myself to press the button until it went click and order this PPV. I’ll have to wait until they replay this one next week, until then I have your fine recap. The question I have is; when will a decent middleweight emerge from the dystopia of modern boxing to end this degenerate retard madness?

    • thenonpareil

      Hi JPF,

      As you probably guessed, I haven’t read a single article about this fight, but I imagine Martinez has now been elevated to the status of…of…well, what’s higher than a GOD? I guess beating a fighter whose been called a fraud over and over is enough to get you that distinction these days. Anyway, it was a pretty good one-sided fight because of Martinez’ high-energy style–and the 12th round was lots of fun–but not the stuff of legends.

      Anyway, according to the experts, GGG is taking over soon!

  • ChavezsuxCanneloIsWorse

    Chavez Sux.. He fights like a typical Mexican fighter.. He is slow and follows opponent around while getting picked apart… He got a lucky punch at the end of his a$$whopin and is trying to survive off that lucky punch.. However the previous 11.45 rounds show how much he sux!

  • Dennis Wise

    I enjoyed the fight (and really liked both cards overall). It was surprising to hear it called a classic, but I guess a dramatic last round will do that. Martinez was slowing down and in the 11th, I think, he was clearly backing straight up after turning Chavez much slower. I was not surprised when that right hand rocked him.

    Good night of fights. Too bad these douchebags couldn’t pick different weekends.

    • thenonpareil

      Hi Dennis,

      I thought Martinez put on a nice display Saturday night. He knows that boxing “skill” does not mean making a fight as dull as possible, so he makes sure to try to entertain. And yes, his no “clinch, no hug, no grapple” mentality led to him getting fatigued late. That 12th round was pretty amazing, though. Chavez turned it up in the 11th and in the 12th–he went for it, which he deserves credit for. We’ve seen time and again fighters mentally give up when they are behind and not even try switching gears.
      I suspect we’ll be seeing more head-to-head stuff in the future, because this is a battle not just of promoters, but of network suits, with Stephen Espinoza unashamedly backing GBP, like he’s joining The Warriors, or something….

  • Jimmy Tobin

    Damn CA, so close.
    It’s been a while since I was screaming at the TV during a fight, but I was hoarse by the end of the twelfth round. Boxing could use more of that. Kudos to both guys, Martinez for surviving (because wasn’t he supposed to handle the kid as easily as he did for the first 10+ rounds?), and Chavez for not folding his tent and almost getting it done. The way Martinez went down, and his initial efforts to clear his head, I thought it was over. Alas, he stalled Chavez out and escaped. Fuck.
    I am now placing all of my eggs in the GGG basket, hoping he gets the opportunity to end the Martinez era.

    • thenonpareil

      Hi JT,

      yeah, I almost lost my cookies when that happened. I also thought Martinez was done for, but, behind all that metrosexual stuff, he’s a pretty tough guy. Junior was really tagging him flush in that round.

      You and JPF are just going to have to wait for some sort of miracle to happen for Martinez–and his sniveling groupies–to meet his match. I doubt GGG will be allowed anywhere near Martinez, although I don’t think GGG beating Super G meant much of anything.

  • Andrew Fruman

    Hi CA,

    The 12th round… wow, it doesn’t get much more exciting than that!

    I had already become a bit of a Martinez fan, and I’m even more so after the fight. I think at some stage, maybe about the 7th, he stopped sitting down on his left hand, perhaps because it was broken already – but even with the injury, he still opened up at times, and had Chavez backing away. And the way he fought AFTER the knockdown, in my opinion, was pretty damn gutsy too. I’ve noticed on Twitter, some fans REALLY don’t like Martinez, but I think he’s a fierce competitor, and a fighter at heart, not one to ever shrink at the site of danger.

    Chavez saved some pride with the late push, but where was the initiative in rounds 7-10? And even in 11, as soon as Martinez fought back, Junior decided to stop forcing the issue and went into retreat for the last minute of the round. It was as if he he was thinking, “Damn, this guy is going to punch me more when I attack him… screw that, I’ll just loiter around the outside.” But credit to him for almost pulling off a miracle, and giving us a very memorable finish.

    As for a rematch, I don’t have much interest in it. I’d rather see Martinez face someone like Golovkin, and Chavez move up to 168, and fight guys his own size. I’m not saying that as a knock against Chavez, as he’s hardly the only fighter drying out like crazy to make weight, but just on principle, I’m not a fan of seeing such a huge disparity in size between opponents. Plus, I think there are good fights to be made for him at that weight, and not having to cut 20lbs before the weigh-in, might actually give him some more energy on fight night.

    And while I don’t think Golovkin has proven too much yet, I think he’d really bring the fight to Martinez, and for however long it lasted, we’d see something very entertaining.