Has Junior had the very best camp possible ahead of the Martinez fight? Did he give himself the very best chance to win by preparing to the utmost? It didn't sem that way on 24/7; but we shall have to see, this Saturday on PPV, to learn if the pink panties were a good luck charm, or not. (Chris Farina-Top Rank)
“He works when he wants to, that bugs me a little bit, but overall, it's OK. As long as we get the work done.”
Hearing Freddie Roach say those words on the second installment of HBO's Martinez-Chavez Jr 24/7, and then seeing evidence that the son of the legend still has a bit more of the Lord Fauntleroy in him than one would hope or expect at age 26, had me reducing Chavez' chances against Martinez on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
I gave Junior the proverbial punchers chance, and figured that possibly the fact that Martinez didn't dominate Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin at times not because he wasn't mentally primed but because he has slipped, minutely, physically. I thought a sliver of a chance existed for Junior, but because of what I saw on 24/7 I have reduced the sliver to 3/4 of a sliver. I give Junior a 15% shot of beating Sergio Martinez, down from 20%.
In the opening scene, we see Chavez working, which is as it should be for a man taking two steps up in competition from anything he's seen before. From Peter Manfredo to Sergio Martinez is like going from Triple A to the majors…so Junior rooters have to hope that the son of the legend isn't going into the event thinking he will turn on the heater and time the curveballs coming from Martinez as he did Andy Lee.
He's running, late at night, in Vegas, and we hear that Junior likes to keep Michael Jackson hours, sleep all day, and work at night. Junior heads to the Top Rank gym, where Freddie Roach waits. The trainer says Junior's camp at home, in LA, didn't work out so well, because he wasn't working out as often or as hard as he should've been. In Vegas, though Roach tried to light a fire underneath him, Junior didn't tame his tardiness.
We see Junior's mom, Alba Carrasco-Orduno, sort of a fabulous Mexican Peg Bundy looking lady, and she says she's attended just one of his fights. “I don't like it,” she says. “I don't go because it's scary.” Mom, who split with Julio Sr. about 15 years ago, is present at this family reunion, with sons Omar and Cristian, to encourage Junior.
The kid takes a shot at the foe ten years his senior when he says, “You should be fighting my dad. You're too old!” Pop, age 50, breaks into a grin.
Over in Oxnard, CA, Martinez uses a hyperbaric chamber to get pure oxygen into his system. He uses one five days a week, for an hour per session. His cutman, a chiropractor, owns one. The fighter says getting up at four AM, and training hard, is the real secret to his success.
We see Martinez sparring at the gym. Trainer Pablo Sarmiento says Martinez doesn't spar that much, to help keep him fresh. He'll spar just 60 rounds to get ready for Junior. And he hasn't downshifted because of age, he says. He has trained like this, doing lots of footwork drills, for ten years.
Back at the Vegas gym, Freddie Roach waits. Junior is late for a 7 PM mitt workout. After an hour, a Junior lackey calls Freddie, and tells him that the fighter won't be showing up. “WTF,” Roach says. He sighs, and still on the phone, says, “I've never seen nothing like this in my life.” He explains to an associate that Junior woke up, said he'd go to the gym, then after a half hour, decided he wouldn't, that he needed a day off.
Freddie recalls that Junior's rep when they met, back in 2010, was that he was “a little bit lazy.” He says that Junior doesn't refuse any request when he shows up at the gym…but that he doesn't always show up at the gym. The next day, Junior does show up. Freddie tells him to drive Martinez back in a straight line, that the Argentine “can't fight going backwards.” The kid says he worked out 12 days straight, so he decided to have a rest day. The trainer says he warned Junior not to fall back into old habits. “I think we're OK now,” he says. His face doesn't scream certainty. (I guess there is the possibility that we're getting conned, that this is all for show. I strongly doubt that though. One day, when we've been doing this 24/7 docu-mercial deal for a spell, somebody will pull off this sort of con, make watchers believe they have an edge by fabricating an injury in camp, or by pretending to go out at night and blow off training. But not yet, I don't think.)
In CA, we see Sarmiento, a fellow Argentine, and Sergio interact. They mesh quite well, both say. After dinner, they watch tape of Junior. Sergio says he likes to study foes, more for how they think than how they fight. He does note that Junior uses the left hand almost purely to hook with, not jab, so you might want to see how Martinez exploits that on fight night. “I don't see how really he's going to give Sergio any trouble,” Sarmiento says of a fighter he allows is “strong and aggressive.”
“It's a farce that Junior is a world champion,” Martinez says as he watches Chavez celebrate a win on tape. “It's embarrassing.”
Chavez Sr. then watches tape of Martinez versus Matthew Macklin, while Junior sleeps. When Junior is up, dad excitedly shares wisdom on how to better Martinez. Junior listens, and then pads about the house in much-mocked pink briefs, before heading to the pool for a dip. Dad comes poolside, boxing a shadow, telling Junior that his hook will mess up Martinez. At 10 PM, Junior is ready to train…but his session takes place in his kitchen, without Roach. Alex Ariza, his strength coach, is present. We can mock this setup, and people surely will, if he loses. If he wins, then we will embrace the relaxed attitude. But you don't have to be an old school fart to think that he'd be better served in the gym, with his trainer, rather than “working” in his kitchen. “I'm ready for this fight,” Junior insists.
Next, we see a fashion designer come to the house to show Sergio some outfits for fight week. He says that he's in the public eye, so he needs to look sharp, and speak well.
Contrasting to Junior's carefree attitude, Martinez arises before dawn to get in road work. Whereas Junior chews cereal in his undies, Martinez is contemplative and philosophical, saying that he won't forget where he came from, because if he does, he is destined to fall back to that place.
My takeaways: As for the pink panties, god bless 'im. You have to respect that element of Junior's personality, that he doesn't care if the world sees him in pink panties.
Also, boxing ain't rock 'n roll. A singer can burn the candle at both ends, sleep all day, get down to business at night, when he is young. But performing on that stage isn't like this stage. A singer can be aided by a TelePrompTer, or a pill or powder or backing musicians, to carry him to the encore. Chavez will be alone in the ring come Saturday, and if he has been slacking in training, he will get rocked.