THE BREAKDOWN: Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Martinez media day 120910 003aThis ain't Zbik, Manfredo, or Lee. Chavez Jr. will discover that Martinez is a different animal entirely, the writer says. (Chris Farina-Top Rank)

Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada
Televised by HBO pay per view
12 rounds for Chavez's WBC middleweight title

Many are now of the opinion that Julio Cesar Chavez jr 46-0-1 {31} is on the edge of greatness. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I just don't see it. It's not that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. hasn't improved in any way because he has, albeit, ever so slightly, it's just that he doesn't have the tools that are required to beat a fighter like Sergio Martinez 49-2-2 {28}. Allow me to rephrase that slightly. Chavez Jr. does indeed have the tools –size and strength– to beat Martinez, it's just that he's not skilled enough to enforce them upon a fighter like Martinez. I've always felt that the cracking of Sergio Martinez's stylistic code would transpire as a result of intellect and patience from a defensive minded fighter, whose sole objective would be a far cry from embracing the defensive trap doors that Martinez likes to set, or by an elite swarmer who could barricade all exits before grinding Martinez down at a hair's distance. Chavez Jr. may like to swarm, but he's far from elite at it.

We shouldn't confuse a swarmer for something else, fighting in this way takes more than a sturdy chin and body mass. It also requires sophisticated levels of craft, which is something Chavez is lacking. When I look at Chavez, I see nothing but a fighter who is going to oblige Martinez and play directly into the Argentinean's mercurial hands.

When the fight was first spoken of, many were quick to dismiss it's authenticity, claiming that Chavez was living off his father's name and that he wasn't a “real” world champion. Even Chavez's promoter, Bob Arum, seemed reluctant to make the fight, probably out of fear that his Mexican starlet would be outclassed and embarrassed by a superior fighter. In the eyes of many, Sergio Martinez was considered far too dangerous at that particular time. Well pardon me for asking, but what earth shattering event has taken place between then and now that's caused the general public to think any different? There's no denying that Chavez has ironed out some of the technical flaws that were painstakingly obvious to all but the uneducated observer, but do wins over Sebastian Zbik {whom he barely scraped past} Peter Manfredo, Marco Antonio Rubio and Andy Lee, warrant him being thought of as the equal, or even the better of Sergio Martinez? Needless to say, everyone involved has done a magnificent job in the promotional work leading up to the fight, but I'm not buying into Chavez's apparent metamorphosis into this ultimate seek and destroy fighter who is now deemed “too big” and “far too strong” for Martinez. I think we're going to see plenty of seeking from Chavez alright, but any destruction will likely come via Argentina.

I'm not going to beat around the bush here. I could write from morning till night about what Chavez should or shouldn't do, but the reality is Chavez's tactics are blatantly obvious to even those who have only taken a remote interest in the fight and it seems pointless to talk of any other strategy concerning Chavez. He's not going to come out and attempt to draw the attack out of Martinez the way Matthew Macklin did, nor is he going to apply subtle, cautious pressure and try to get on top of Martinez the way Darren Barker did either. Needless to say, despite managing to get the cogs turning in his head for a while, Martinez didn't allow either man to hear the final bell.

No, there's no hiding Chavez's gameplan. He will be looking to close the distance at all costs by applying sustained pressure throughout the fight, looking to slow down and eventually break down his quicker and more elusive opponent by taking away his mobility with the left hook to the body and uppercuts in close. As is with the case Chavez, Sergio Martinez's style and strategy are no secret either. You seldom see Martinez taking a step forward {only when he's hurt his opponent); instead, he's constantly maneuvering side to side and away from his opponent. There probably isn't a fighter in professional boxing who's as cunning as Martinez is at drawing the lead out from an opponent. With his hands often below his waist and his constant rocking motion, fighters think it's safe to rush in and attack. Martinez's ability to land hard and unexpected shots as they are stepping in makes them soon see the light.

So what do you like: Chavez's size, strength and constant pressure? Or Martinez's speed, southpaw angles and elusive countering?

Usually, I'd lean towards the stronger and more physical pressure fighter as opposed to the more elusive boxer-mover. I believe this is what many are alluding to when they feel Chavez has a chance to pull off an upset. Just two weeks ago in the middleweight division, we saw a fighter who resembled Sergio Martinez who was easily hunted down and stopped within five, one-sided rounds. Food for thought? Possibly, but I have to digress. Yes, there are certain stylistic similarities between the fighters involved, but believe me when I say, Sergio Martinez is a lot quicker and hits way harder than Grzegorz Proksa and everyone knows that barring size, Gennady Golovkin is superior to Julio Cesar Chavez in every way imaginable.

The bigger they are.

Once the opening bell sounds, Martinez is going to be confronted by a fighter weighing somewhere in the region of 180-plus pounds. With that in mind then, should Chavez succeed in pinning Martinez up on the ropes for long periods, it could be a long, or even short night for Martinez, who may succumb to Chavez's superior physicality. However, in this instance, I believe that Chavez may end up paying the price for being overly reliant on his physicality, not to mention his chin, which he seemed all to eager to point out during the recent HBO face-off. If Chavez believes his chin will be his saving grace in this fight, forget about it. Chavez hasn't been cracked on the chin yet by anyone who's as precise as Martinez is. A lot of fighters lose some of their accuracy as they opt for more speed and power. Not Martinez, who remains deadly accurate without conceding any of his speed or power as he lands his straight lefts, right hooks or his signature right-left-right-left combination. It's fair to say that Chavez hasn't been in the ring with anyone who throws punches quite like Martinez does.

I could go on and mention all sorts of things like how despite being a southpaw, Martinez gravitates towards his opponent's right hand, looking to draw it out so that he can then shift his weight back across and land his straight left hand up the middle. Or how Martinez likes to throw jabs away from the target, so that his opponents are parrying his jab away from their chin, leaving an opening for a counter. I'm afraid, though, that science isn't going to play a big part in this fight. Martinez, probably the best conditioned athlete in boxing despite being 37 years-old, may not be blessed with solid fundamentals, but that won't hurt him here. His natural gifts of speed, power, athleticism and instinctiveness should be more than enough. I believe that there's quite a gulf in quality between the two fighters. Truth be told, Martinez has fought far better quality opposition than what Chavez has. Don't believe me? Reverse their opponents and tell me if Chavez remains unbeaten.

Speed kills.

Chavez is going to soon realize that he's in way over his head. Ask anyone why they think Chavez will win, and they'll all tell you the same thing– because of his size advantage. Well, Kelly Pavlik was alot bigger than Martinez and he got chopped up because of a deficit in speed. Antonio Margarito, way bigger than Manny Pacquiao, he got sliced up and busted up because of a deficit in speed. John Ruiz, a heavyweight, was dominated from start to finish by a natural super-middleweight…you know the rest.

Sergio Martinez's speed of hand and foot are going to trump any advantage Chavez has in size and strength. And besides, I don't think Martinez is all that small for a middleweight anyway. Chavez has fought and beat southpaws before, but he hasn't faced a southpaw like Martinez. Martinez has tremendous hand speed, footwork, power in either hand, can feint his opponents out of position and can adjust the angles of his punches and attacks throughout a fight. A brilliant athlete yes, but he's also a very smart fighter who knows exactly what he has in front of him. Chavez isn't a bad fighter by any means, but his style is is going to do nothing but complement that of Martinez's, which just so happens to thrive on aggression. Should Chavez try anything other than pressure Martinez, then he'll soon find himself beaten to the punch anyway –Chavez can only fight one way and that's straight ahead. Like I mentioned earlier, for Chavez to have success against Martinez implementing a pressure style, he would have to have far better boxing skills. His father, perhaps the greatest ever boxer from Mexico, wasn't just about unrelenting pressure and a granite chin. Chavez Sr. was one of the finest ring mechanics of his or any generation. He could slip, block, parry or weave his way inside, and he was also one of the best combination punchers you're ever likely to see. Junior has improved, but fortunately for Martinez, he can't replicate what Senior could do back in the late eighties/early nineties, otherwise this analysis would look a lot different.

Looking at his last few fights, Junior doesn't seem as lineal with his attack as he used to be, as he'll now look to come in from the sides. I've also noticed that he steps around his opponent more when he's got them up against the ropes, looking for openings as opposed to just throwing blind punches at arms and elbows. That's good. Here's what I think could be bad for Chavez though. He doesn't jab his way inside. In fact, he doesn't really throw punches at all until he gets there. Chavez is unusual for a pressure fighter in that his style doesn't translate well on the scorecards. Even though Chavez will be the aggressor, Martinez will still likely outwork him on the back foot, even though he isn't known as being high volume himself.


Sergio Martinez is uber confident for good reason. Plainly and simply, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr won't be able to prevent himself from walking onto straight left hands, right hooks and one-twos for however long it lasts. Martinez's superior footwork is going to keep him one step ahead of Chavez throughout. As Chavez steps in, Martinez will be simultaneously countering before sliding off at angles, where it will be a case of rinse and repeat. If Chavez's chin isn't as good as he says it is, then it could be over by the mid-way point of the fight. I'm going to give Junior the benefit of the doubt here, but I still don't think he makes it to the final bell. I don't think Martinez will render him unconscious, but I think the speed and accuracy of his punches could slice Chavez up and force a stoppage, or his corner may decide that enough is enough and not allow their man to partake in any further punishment.

Comment on this article


-ultimoshogun :

Martinez has folded against a pure pressure fighter with a solid chin before, and as far as I know, he hasn't faced this kinda pressure since then...I'm inclined to think it'll happen again this weekend.

-The Voicebox :

Martinez has folded to pressure before, yes; to a prime Margarito back when he was still just a neophyte. The first Paul Williams fight was an absolute barn burner, a decision I wanted to go to Paul, but my gut told me Martinez had won until they gave it to the other man. I still think Martinez won that fight. The fact of the matter is, except for that first PW fight that was at least close, Martinez has dominated and/or stopped every opponent he's faced. Look at his record before he came to the US - as far back as 2003, only three years removed from the Margarito defeat, he went into Richard Williams backyard in the UK to take his IBO light middleweight title by unanimous decision. He then followed that with two defenses and two knockouts against Adrian Stone and a rematch against Richard. The only blemish on his recent record is that travesty against Kermit Cintron, who he knocked out in the 7th and the ref blew the call, then the judges called it a draw. How they justified that score, I don't know. The fact of the matter is, unless he suddenly gets old overnight or Junior figures out how to use his size to the greatest possible advantage, Martinez is going to outbox him. He'll slice his face to bloody ribbons just as he did Pavlik and leave him swiping at air. Martinez by late TKO or KO.

-Radam G :

Sergio Martinez will not be able to stand "the heat in the kitchen." He will melt like the wicked witch of the west in the movie, "Wizard of Oz." SM's naive-like amateurish pro style of fighting with his hand down to his side and stumbling around dat squared jungle is a BIG disaster going to happen on fight night. Holla!

-amayseng :

i got sergio by late stoppage or ko... he will box and move and allow the young fighter to walk into punches of all angles... at the mid way point sergio will come forward and start to sit down on his punches and follow through with momentum to batter the young, undeserving champion.... the ref waves it off as jr. staggers around concussed...