By: Marc Livitz: Las Vegas will once again be the absolute center of the boxing universe on September 15. Two championship bouts will take place at separate venues in Sin City which are just a bit more than two miles away from the other. Although the weekend which falls closest to Mexican Independence Day (September 16) has been remembered for some classic ring encounters over the years, the fight which has landed at the Thomas and Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas will undoubtedly not soon be forgotten. Top three pound for pound (depending on which list is referenced) and universally recognized middleweight champion Sergio Gabriel Martinez (49(28)-2(1)-2) will finally meet WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (46(32)-0-1) in the ring. The dream which has become a reality has only helped to stoke the sporting public’s desire for a much demanded matchup. The middleweight championship invokes the memory of great fight kings such as Carlos Monzon, Marvin Hagler and Bernard Hopkins. With just ten days to go before their highly anticipated meeting, each fighter and their respective representatives took a short break from training so they could graciously participate in an international conference call this afternoon.
The Martinez camp which was represented by Sergio Martinez himself, his promoter Lou DiBella, manager Sampson Lewkowicz and trainer Pablo Sarmiento were the first participants on the line today. Mr. DiBella expressed his enthusiasm for finally being in place to stage a fight where the fans would come first.
“Hi everyone, thanks for joining us. Thanks so much to our sponsors. When you have a great product, it’s not very hard to sell it. One of the pound for pound best in the world and the son of a legend.”
Pablo Sarmiento, who is usually recognizable in the ring by way of his trademark sunglasses indicated that he and the champion from Quilmes, Buenos Aires, Argentina were eager to show the finished creation of their efforts in the gym when he commented, “This will be a tough fight, but we have been working hard for the past two months and we’ll be intelligent in the ring so that we can come out victorious.”
Mr. Lewkowicz served as Sergio’s interpreter throughout the call and he let the champion’s thoughts be known to those on the line. Martinez added, “I share the thoughts of my trainer. I’ll be recognized as the real middleweight champion. Most people already know, but Chavez has a title that I’ll be taking on September 15. I not only want the title, but I want to take it from Chavez.”
His opponent from Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico is undefeated and the son of Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr. Sergio seemed beyond confident when he was asked if he saw any deficiencies in the armor of the Mexican slugger.
“He’ll be fighting the best, but it doesn’t matter if he’s had the best training camp of his career. He’s going to get knocked out anyway. I’m one of the best pound for pound. I believe that I am number two at this moment. That’s why I’ll win. I don’t really know what to look for, but I just know that I’m better than him.”
There has been some uncharacteristic mudslinging from each fighter since before and after the bout was formally announced. Chavez, Jr. has long said that he has never at any time feared a meeting with “Maravilla” Martinez, who himself said that Chavez’s rise to a championship (without an amateur background) was in large part due to a padded record and blatant nepotism. Sergio spoke of the irritation felt from the bitter language used by Chavez in regard to next weekend’s fight. Said Martinez, “He doesn’t deserve to be a world champion. He got there by his name and being the son of the legend. His mouth is bigger than his brain. He’s been talking too much and that is what really set me off.”
Lou DiBella echoed the opinions of the middleweight champion as he referred to the differences in terms of each fighter’s early life. He referenced Chavez’s father. Lou commented, “There’s a contrast to how he was raised and who they are. Chavez had the silver spoon. He was kid gloves as a fighter on the rise. Martinez was raised in the worst slum in Argentina. There’s a bit of a contrast. One very much had it handed it to him and the other worked his butt off for it.”
Since he won the WBC middleweight title from Sebastian Zbik in June of 2011, Julio, Jr. has won his last three fights, two of them by TKO. Sergio was quick to credit Chavez’s championship trainer, Freddie Roach for some improvements, but the compliments basically stopped there.
“Freddie Roach is a big part of that. Regardless of the good name he’s not one of the best. The speed and power that I possess will be the difference. I won’t wait for the chance to present itself. I’ll still knock him out.”
Mr. DiBella was then asked if such a highly anticipated fight being easily made could serve as a blueprint for future fights which are in demand now, most notably of course a showdown between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao to which he replied, “I (DiBella Promotions) have always been able to do business with Top Rank (Chavez’s promoter) and other companies. As long as there’s an even playing field and personalities can get along, then it’s possible to see the best fight the best. The winner in this fight is the fans. People have waited until Chavez, Jr. got bigger and stronger and now we have it.”
Sergio Martinez then ended the call with an answer as to whether or not he would abandon his “hands down” style of fighting against the hard-hitting Chavez. The Argentine’s confidence was beyond clear.
““I won my fights that way. I did it with Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams and so why can’t I do that with Chavez? I’ve been in 53 fights that way.”
Shortly after the Martinez camp left the call, the individuals from Team Chavez eagerly took to the line. Legendary CEO Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions shared the excitement felt surrounding the September 15 bout as well as his satisfaction of how well the public has embraced the event.
“The response to this fight has exceeded our expectations. Ticket sales have been off the charts. The lower bowl at the Thomas and Mack Center sold out about two weeks ago and there’s not much left in the upper bowl. We have six to seven thousand closed circuit seats in our host hotels, the Wynn and the Encore. We’re very enthused and it shows that when you give the people a quality match, they respond.”
Co-Promoter Fernando Beltran heartedly agreed with Mr. Arum’s statements as he added, “We know the winner will be Chavez, Jr. We are looking forward to this fight on the 15th.”
Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. assured all those listening that his hard living ways are now in the past when he said, “I have been preparing for this fight for over a year. I have not stopped training since February of last year. I am ready not only to compete but to win this fight. My dedication and preparation has improved my confidence and I’ve been working day after day.”
Chavez, Jr. has made headlines by way of his tendency to look somewhat gaunt during recent pre-fight weigh-in’s and subsequently rocket his weight upward within the following twenty four hours. His trainer, Freddie Roach sought to absolve his fighter from such unwanted attention.
“He takes the weight off and then we rehydrate him. He eats well and he’s not breaking any rules. He’s very strong once he goes into the ring.”
Julio acknowledged his trainer’s stance and added, “My strength will be one of the keys, but it won’t be all of it. You’ll see a complete boxer and some things from me that you’ve never seen. He (Martinez) fights differently and moves around. I have the strategy to beat him and you’ll see it on the 15th. I’ve done lots of good work in sparring with guys who are tougher than Martinez. I’ll be ready.”
Mr. Roach then briefly discussed how his fighter plans to approach the bout with the dangerous Sergio Martinez. Said Roach, “It’s harder to get to his body because of his movement, but we have set traps to get him on the ropes and break down the body to take away his legs. He has some patterns that can be read. He hides that left hand well. We know how to cut off the ring and we’ll be ready for him.”
In regard to Julio’s famous surname, he undefeated Mexican fighter stressed that he has worked hard to forge his own road and protect his unbeaten mark. “I can’t change who I am, but I think I have proven myself over time. I have done this on my own and I have my own story now. I’m facing one of the best in the world right now and that alone should show what I’m all about. A champion must face the best and beat the best.”
“I don’t like to lose. I train to win and I give my all in the ring. The record is nice, but what’s important is to give everything.”
Chavez Jr.’s most recent fight was a seventh round TKO victory over Andy Lee at a packed Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas. He stated that he learned quickly after the win that a contest with Martinez was finally coming to light and that he would have a trick or two up his sleeve once the bell rings on Saturday the 15th.
“I have always wanted to fight him. My promoter told me after my fight in El Paso that I would get the chance to face him. I want to give the people what they want to see. I want to fight the same way every time and make my opponents think that I can only fight one way.”
His master plan is for now a secret one. Said Chavez, “I can’t tell you now, but you’ll see some great things from me.”
Fernando Beltran urged fight fans to take notice of Chavez, Jr. and assured that his man will indeed win.
“The people will see the great Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. on the 15th. He’s going to be one of the best. The fans will be witnesses to a tremendous fight. He’s a sensational young man and he’ll start writing his history in gold letters after this fight.”
September 5, 2012