Chavez and Martinez, Canelo and Lopez, Top Rank and Golden Boy, HBO and Showtime: this Saturday features big bouts. (Chris Farina-Top Rank)
Call it a Mexican standoff.
Anyway you look at it when boxing’s promotional giants Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank go head to head and television networks Showtime and HBO also collide like rabid dogs after the same bone, it’s going to be total war.
Can anybody win?
It’s a gamble that both boxing companies and television networks are undertaking on Mexican Independence Day weekend. Three of the four participants on dueling cards are of Mexican descent.
Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs) of Mexico defends his WBC junior middleweight title against yet another fighter from the Inland area in Riverside’s Josesito Lopez (30-4, 18 KOs) on Saturday Sept. 15, at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. Showtime will televise.
A few miles east on Tropicana Road, Argentina’s Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs) and Culiacan, Mexico’s Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32 KOs) meet face to face at the Thomas and Mack Arena. HBO pay-per-view will televise.
It’s a situation that does not benefit either company but stubbornly the promotional giants have refused to budge. Therefore, the show must go on. Each company insists that it had the date secured and with fingers wagging accuses the other of sabotaging the boxing public.
“We had this date reserved long before,” said Richard Schaefer, CEO for Golden Boy Promotions. “Why should we move?”
Top Rank’s Todd DuBoef says their organization planned the event long before Golden Boy Promotions inked the contract.
Neither side will budge.
On Saturday both fight cards will vie for an international audience on this coveted day for the boxing loving Mexican fans.
First, let’s talk about Alvarez and Lopez.
Last Cinco de Mayo the boxing public saw Alvarez pummel Pomona’s Shane Mosley for 12 rounds to retain the world title. Once again the Mexican redhead fights an Inland area prizefighter in Lopez, a Mexican-American who is moving up in weight to participate.
Can Lopez topple yet another world champion?
Blame the whole promotional war on the Riverside’s Rubidoux High School graduate Lopez. If he hadn’t stopped Victor Ortiz with a broken jaw, none of this would be an issue. But after beating former welterweight titleholder Ortiz by technical knockout last June 23 at the Staples Center, the plans for Ortiz to meet Alvarez were scuttled like a sinking ship. After weeks of searching for another opponent for the redhead, Lopez was given the assignment. He couldn’t be happier and Showtime is happy too.
“Only one fighter stepped up when we were looking for an opponent for Canelo, it was Josesito Lopez,” said Stephen Espinosa, the president of sports programming for Showtime.
HBO’s Martinez vs. Chavez
Across town in Las Vegas, HBO will be telecasting the Chavez-Martinez battle for the WBC middleweight world title on pay-per-view.
Arum estimates that 300,000 households will purchase the event, plus he expects a sold out audience at the Thomas and Mack Arena that holds more than 19,000. The real gamble will be whether Chavez can beat Martinez.
“Everybody was saying you’re ducking (Sergio) Martinez and you’re *** darn right I was ducking Martinez,” said Arum in July. “At this point in time if we had continued to duck Martinez it really would have hurt Chavez’s brand.”
Slowly, Chavez, the former Riverside Ramona High School student, has progressed to capture a version of the middleweight title. Now he’ll face the lightning reflexes of Argentina’s southpaw fighter Martinez.
“Can the Chavez chin withstand Martinez’s punch? Who knows?” says Arum who promotes the son of Mexico’s most famous champion, Julio Cesar Chavez.
“He’s one of the best fighters,” says Chavez of Martinez. “On Sept. 15 you will see what type of fighter I am. You will know what kind of fighter I am. Don’t have a doubt I am going be the winner.”
Martinez smiles and speaks bluntly about his coming encounter with Chavez.
“Take a picture of him now because you will not recognize him after I’m finished with him,” says Martinez.
Fights on television
Thurs. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Jessie Vargas (19-0) vs. Aron Martinez (18-1-1).
Fri. Telemundo, 11:30 p.m., Omar Soto (22-9-2) vs. Glen Donaire (19-4-1).
Sat. Showtime, 6 p.m., Saul Alvarez (40-0-1) vs. Josesito Lopez (30-4); Jhonny Gonzalez (52-7) vs. Daniel Ponce De Leon (43-4); Leo Santa Cruz (20-0-1) vs. Eric Morel (46-3).
Sat. HBO pay-per-view, 6 p.m., Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs) vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32 KOs); Roman Martinez (25-1-1) vs. Miguel Beltran Jr. (27-1); Matthew Macklin (28-4) vs. Joachim Alcine (33-2-1).