LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 15: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (L) is instructed to walk away by referee Tony Weeks after knocking down Sergio Martinez in the twelfth 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)
I think we can all agree the mixed martial arts (MMA) vs. boxing war is silly and simple minded. It's stupid, really, but it does exist and there's a clear divide in the respective fan bases.
There are plenty of fans, like myself, who only gravitate over to the squared circle when pound-for-pound greats like Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao show up to ply their craft. There are larger motivations for me, of course, like hits to this here website you're reading, but generally speaking, I never bothered to go much deeper into the boxing world than the big dogs who are so good for business.
That changed in a big, big way last night with the two cards on Showtime and HBO pay-per-view (PPV), respectively, which featured intriguing match-ups pitting Canelo Alvarez vs. Josesito Lopez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez.
Alvarez put on a clinic, boxing up Lopez and delivering on all the promise he's shown as the WBC light middleweight champion. And at just 22-years-old, he's just getting started.
Meanwhile on HBO, Martinez spent 11 full rounds just having his way with Chavez Jr. Every time the Mexican star attempted to come back with a flurry of punches against the ropes, "Maravilla" responded even bigger and stronger than before.
That was until the final round when, realizing he needed a knockout to win, Chavez Jr. unloaded with everything he had. The blitz produced a knockdown, blowing the roof off the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Ultimately, Martinez would gut his way through to the final bell and win on the judges scorecards but it was the most thrilling round of action I've ever seen.
Boxing or MMA.
The timing of all this for boxing simply couldn't have been better.
the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is rife with strife. It's been over a month since the company has run an event, which is a long time in the current landscape created by its masters. Part of the reason for that is the cancellation of UFC 151. With all the controversy surrounding that show, not to mention the fallout from it, far too many MMA fans are fed up.
Which was all the more reason to simply sit back, let it all go, and take a flyer on boxing. Some of the world's best but lesser known were on display and with fans like myself simply searching for something to satiate my lust for combat, I gave the fights a gander.
Now I'm no longer a casual viewer. I'm a straight up fan.
I realize now how silly it was to blow off boxing unless Pacquiao or Mayweather were in action. There's too much talent to ignore, too much potential for greatness at every turn. Alvarez, Martinez and Chavez Jr. showed me that last night.
This isn't me saying the UFC's sky is falling or boxing is better than MMA or anything like that. The two can, and will, co-exist. I'm just not sure I ever would have bothered broadening my horizons had I not been so fed up with MMA at the moment.
And I'm glad.