Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on Pinterest

Martinez Chavez Jr 120915 006aA rematch would likely go to Martinez, possibly in even more dominant fashion, the writer says. What say you, readers? (Chris Farina-Top Rank)

Essentially, on Saturday night for eleven and a half rounds, we witnessed a cruiserweight being thoroughly outthought, outfought and outclassed by a super-middleweight, in as one-sided a contest for the middleweight championship of the world as you're ever likely to see. Despite the theatrical nature of the last minute and a half of the fight, which saw Sergio Martinez dropped from a manifold of left hooks up on the ropes shortly after being wobbled by a right hand as he was backing away, the fight wasn't the least bit competitive. Even upon rising to his feet, Martinez probably did enough to win the remaining moments of that round too, catching and hurting Chavez during an exchange with rights and lefts. As a result, Sergio Martinez now takes his record to 50-2-2 {28} while Chavez Jr, suffering the first loss of his career, is now at 46-1-1{32}.

It was said here before the fight that Sergio Martinez's superior hand and foot speed –and Chavez's lack of– would be the main difference between the two fighters and it was. Chavez, reduced to following his man around the ring for round after round,found it almost impossible to set himself in order to let his hands go, such was Martinez's quickness at redirecting his movement and in launching his offense. Constantly playing catch-up, Chavez was beaten to the punch throughout the night. You see, the problem for Chavez, as was also previously mentioned here, is that Chavez's style doesn't bode well on the score cards. In other words, unless he actually stops his opponent, he's always going to find it difficult to avoid being outworked across twelve rounds. Because Chavez doesn't throw punches until he's planted his feet once he's found his way inside, he allowed Sergio Martinez, who can throw punches on the move, to throw 908 punches, most of which came at him with Martinez on the back foot. With Martinez moving laterally, side to side and in and out, Chavez, a lineal attacker, couldn't get Martinez in front of him for long enough to put anything together. Hence, the notion of Chavez walking forward without punching and losing rounds. Of course there was a real deficit in hand speed, but the real difference maker in the fight was the gulf in foot speed. I lost track of the amount of times Chavez finally appeared to have his man pinned in the corner only for Martinez to turn him and start the process of walking Chavez onto shots all over again. Martinez's better footwork allowed him to always remain one step ahead of Chavez.

It wasn't just Martinez's superb foot work that gave Chavez problems either. Martinez is an extremely intelligent fighter, which is something that often gets lost when discussing his best attributes. Sergio's physical gifts would count for nothing if he didn't know how to apply them intelligently during a fight. That night, as early as the first round, Martinez made a conscious decision to throw a straight left lead to Chavez's body. While the British commentators correctly assumed that it was thrown to slow Chavez down as he would likely be applying more and more pressure as the fight progressed, they never mentioned it's main purpose. If you look at Chavez's guard in the first round, as both fighters were assessing one another, you'll notice that it was extremely high and tight. By throwing a fast, straight left lead into the pit of Chavez's stomach, Martinez forced him into slightly adjusting his guard to compensate. Once a fighter is unaware of what punch is coming next, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to concentrate on anything else. Once Martinez knew he had forced this sensation upon Chavez, we saw a carefully though out, well rounded attack consisting of straight lefts, right hooks and uppercuts. With Chavez's guard now slightly lowered, we saw the same straight left hand thrown up top and threaded through the guard. We also saw him setting traps with it too. Martinez often drifts left, gravitating towards his opponent's right hand, looking to draw it out so that he can simultaneously shift his weight back across to his right and land a straight left hand. Freddie Roach could be heard in the corner during the rounds, describing the direction of Martinez's movement. I wasn't, however, convinced that he was aware of the counter attacking intentions that were linked to it.

It wasn't just the straight left that worked a treat for Martinez either as he also had a lot of success using his jab, doubling and tripling up on it with great effect, even forcing his far bigger opponent onto the back foot as a result of it. Again, because Martinez wasn't just looking to maintain distance with it –he was also looking to hook off of it– the jab kept Chavez guessing and from getting comfortable with what Martinez was doing. As the fight wore on, Chavez had no answer for the speed and precision –not to mention the unpredictability– of Martinez's combinations neither. Martinez often ended his combinations with the right hook, as he was sliding off to his right and on the blindside of Chavez. Again, Chavez found himself constantly being turned and having to reset his feet.

Here's what I didn't see coming; Martinez spent far longer in the pocket than I could ever have imagined. And what's even more impressive is the fact that he was there on his own terms. Before the fight, many thought –myself included– that if any in-fighting were to take place, it would be Chavez who would have the better of it. Time after time, Martinez rewrote the script as he allowed the fight to take place at close quarters. Demoralizingly for Chavez, Martinez actually got the better of it. As Chavez looked to land his vaunted left hook, Martinez found a way to blunt it by pressing his right shoulder into Chavez's chest. By doing this, Chavez's left hook was landing around and away from Martinez's lower body. With the left hook to the body taken away, Martinez found a way to land his left uppercut to Chavez's head in close. Beforehand, nobody gave Martinez a chance on the inside and here he was, with his back to the ropes, actually getting the better of the in-fighting.

This really was a boxing clinic from Martinez. A display of inside/outside, offensive/defensive, back foot/front foot mastery {albeit against an overmatched opponent}. Martinez looked just as comfortable in taking the fight to Chavez as he was in countering him. His versatility on offense ranks among the best in professional boxing. I honestly don't think I've ever seen a 37 year-old fighter whose stamina levels are as high, nor have I seen anyone at that age who's as fast or as mobile as Sergio Martinez is. Going one step further, I believe Martinez may be the best offensive fighter in the sport or at least, the most aesthetically pleasing. Martinez varies the rhythm of his offense –punching and movement– in subtle ways that are difficult for opponents to track and time. He's so seamless when he does it, that his opponents don't know when or how he's doing it. His constant feinting, twitching, circling, trap setting style will continue to be a nightmare for any fighter in or around the middleweight division.

I'm sure most observers would welcome a rematch between the two, with the PR teams possibly playing on the famous Julio Cesar Chavez-Meldrick Taylor theme to spice things up. Ultimately, these two fights were night and day. Chavez Sr was hurting Taylor throughout the fight even though he was losing most of the rounds, whereas Martinez was dominating Chavez Jr in winning just about every second of every round without getting hurt or worn down in the process. Personally, I saw enough Saturday night that suggests to me that a rematch wouldn't look any different. Yes, Chavez hurt Martinez right at the end, but Martinez was obliging Chavez and giving the crowd what they wanted. My gut feeling here is that if he really wanted to, Martinez could have made the fight a lot easier–and a lot less exciting– on himself by staying on the outside. It wasn't necessary for him to do so, but I believe Martinez wanted to make a statement by choosing to go toe-to-toe with Chavez at times.

Unquestionably, this was a great night for boxing. We saw a great performance from Martinez {as well as resiliency}and a great final round. Chavez, who must be commended for his gutsy effort in almost turning things around late on, must be given credit for his chin, which is clearly as good as he said it was. All in all though, could Chavez really go one better next time? By allowing his hands to move more and by applying more intense pressure early on, Chavez could inadvertently give Martinez more counter-punching opportunities than he did last night. It's not beyond the realms of possibility to suggest that Martinez could go one better next time and actually stop Chavez. At the least, Martinez could make it a lot less compelling, which translates to him sticking and moving and avoiding the inside exchanges at all costs, something that wasn't at the top of his agenda Saturday night.

I can see why many would want to see it again, but for me, I saw all I needed to see. Sergio Martinez will always have the style and speed to trump Chavez Jr's size and strength.

As a thought experiment, ask yourself this. If Martinez was dropped in the first round instead of the last, would the calls for a rematch still be as strong? Using that train of thought then, you could say last night was a lot like the Joe Calzaghe-Roy Jones Jr fight in reverse.

And nobody ever wanted to see a sequel to that one-sided showing, did they?

Comment on this article

Facebook Comments