LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 15: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (L) and Sergio Martinez trade punches in the second round of their WBC middleweight title fight at the Thomas & Mack Center on September 15, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
After annihilating Paul Williams with one punch back in 2010, nobody questioned the fact that Sergio Martinez was the king of the middleweight division. Despite this, sanctioning body shenanigans left him without the WBC belt, so he made it his mission to seek and destroy its owner, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. While the younger Chavez had displayed steadily-increasing skill as time went by, he was still thought too raw and unskilled to challenge "Maravilla."
Damn, did he almost prove them wrong.
The first 11 rounds were the Sergio Martinez show, through and through. Chavez simply couldn't get past the wall of straight lefts and snapping jabs Sergio unleashed to get his own licks in, and even when Sergio wasn't firing, his slick movement stymied Chavez's attempts to tie up and rip to the body.
Then came round 12.
The majority of the round was the same old, same old, but a wide right hook from Chavez at the halfway point caught Sergio unaware and set his knees a-wobblin'. A series of hellacious shots followed, sending "Maravilla" to the canvas. Though he rose, Sergio looked completely gone, firing off punches seemingly on instinct as Chavez bore down on him to complete an amazing upset.
Unfortunately for the Mexican bruiser, it was too little, too late as Martinez survived the round and took home a unanimous decision victory.
There are a lot of things you can question about Chavez Jr., from his boxing ability to his willingness to train to the legitimacy of his opponents. But you can't question his heart.
Not after last night.
When Mexico and Puerto Rico collide in the ring, things tend to get hectic. In the super featherweight title fight between Roman Martinez and Miguel Beltran, Jr., nothing less than mayhem was expected.
Once in a while, things go right.
From post to post, the fight was an absolute war, with the power and speed of Beltran matching up perfectly with the indomitable will and sheer volume of Martinez. Both men ripped hard to the body and turned every clinch into a phonebooth brawl. The latter tendency actually wound up being a deciding factor, as Beltran was deducted a point in the eleventh round for rabbit punching only to lose a split decision on scores of 116-111, 113-114 and 113-114.
After his brutal knockout loss to Sergio Martinez, Ireland's Matthew Macklin was out to impress in his return to HBO, taking on Canada's Joachim Alcine.
Macklin came out strong, hunting the body as Alcine circled. At around the two-minute mark, however, he went upstairs with a vengeance, clobbering his foe with an overhand right around his guard. While Alcine got back to his feet, he would be dropped once more and stopped at the 2:38 mark as Macklin unloaded on the fence. With Macklin alongside the likes of Geale, Golovkin, and Chavez, the middleweight division has developed into one hell of a supporting cast for Sergio.
The evening opened with a super bantamweight showdown between Cuban amateur superstar Guillermo Rigondeaux and prospect Robert Marroquin for the former's WBA title. While Marroquin is a solid, effective fighter, Rigondeaux was not expected to have much trouble with him.
Things went according to plan, more or less.
Save for a couple of scares in rounds three and nine, when Marroquin's left hook got through and wobbled him, Rigondeaux controlled the bout from start to finish with excellent footwork, head movement, and long-distance punching. While he couldn't put Marroquin away, Rigondeaux put him down in the fifth and twelfth with hard counters and won on scores of 118-109, 118-108, and 118-108. If "boxing" and "fair" could be put in the same sentence without several emphatic "is not's" in between, he would be in line to face the winner of next month's Nonito Donaire vs. Toshiaki Nishioka showdown.
Alas, no such luck.
For full Chavez Jr. vs. Martinez results and play-by-play of all the night's action click here.
Special thanks to AT&T for sponsoring this post as part of its Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez fight coverage.