BETHLEHEM, PA - Just because the key players of next week's nationally televised NBC Sports Network Fight Night triple header inBethlehem, PA are locked away for their final preparations before their own fights, it doesn't mean they aren't looking forward to the two monster fights scheduled for this weekend - just like the rest of us.
For certain, all eyes will be on both the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs. Josesito Lopez world championship fights this Saturday night. So how does the crew on the Bethlehem card see these fights going down?
WHO WILL WIN THE JULIO CESAR CHAVEZ JR. vs. SERGIO MARTINEZ FIGHT?
Gabriel Rosado: CHAVEZ by KO
"I actually got Chavez winning that fight, probably stopping Martinez. I think Chavez is really coming along. 24/7 makes him out to be lazy, but I think they just do that for ratings. For him to be as big and strong and cut-up like he is, you don't get that being lazy. Chavez is a legit middleweight now and Martinez is probably slowing down a little bit. In his last couple fights he didn't really fight guys that were as strong as Chavez, and he didn't dominate those fights until the later rounds. So I think the pressure Chavez is going to apply and the body punches are probably going to break Martinez down."
Charles Whittaker: MARTINEZ by DECISION
"It's going to be a very good fight. I like Martinez. He came up the hard-knocks way. He took his bumps along the path, and it took him a long time. He showed his desire and determination. He got there late in his career, and cannot be underestimated. In a lot of ways, Martinez is more a man now than Chavez. I think Chavez is a better fighter than he's gotten credit for, but I like Martinez because he has the better skills. He has the ability to move his feet and keep punching. He's very busy."
Billy Briscoe (Trainer of Gabriel Rosado): CHAVEZ by KO
"I'm leaning toward Chavez. He's a big guy. His size and his body punching is going to break Martinez down. And if you look at Martinez, he's starting to look old. He's got crow's feet and everything else."
Ronald Cruz: MARTINEZ by DECISION
"Chavez looks really strong, but he's a little wild. He's really not a technical fighter, he just a pressure fighter. He comes forward, sort of like his Dad did. But he looks strong and looks like he can put a lot of pressure on Martinez. But Martinez can maybe outbox him. I think in the later rounds the pressure will give Martinez some problems, even though I think Martinez will come up with the win, but not look very good toward the end of the fight. He'll win the decision, but barely."
Antwone Smith: CHAVEZ by KO
"I think Chavez. I think if he catches Martinez early, he can take care of him. He's a big dude."
Indio Rodriguez (Trainer of Ronald Cruz): CHAVEZ WILL WIN
"My personal opinion is that it can go both ways, but I think the way Chavez came in for his last fight (against Andy Lee), means he can beat Martinez. Martinez did not look good in his last fight. But Martinez proved that he can end a fight with one punch. But when you pressure him, he doesn't know what to do. So if Chavez can make him go backwards, Martinez will be in a little bit of trouble. "
Sergey Kovalev: MARTINEZ WILL WIN
"It's very hard to say. In boxing, anything can happen. But I favor Martinez because he has very strong boxing legs. We have a saying in Russia that goes, 'the legs feed the wolf'. If a wolf has strong legs, he eats well. It's the same thing in boxing. Martinez has the strong legs, so I'm going with Martinez."
Lionell Thompson: MARTINEZ by KO
"I got Martinez winning hands down. Chavez is not really what people think he is. In my opinion, he's been babied, and pampered because of who his father is. Who has he fought? All you have to do is outbox him. Martinez is a very mentally strong fighter. He boxes, he doesn't get tired, and he throws punches in bunches. And that's the blueprint you need to beat Chavez. He can eat him up all night. I actually got Martinez stopping Chavez in the later rounds. He gets tired because he has a hard time making weight. If the right Martinez shows up, I got him stopping Chavez, or winning a 12-0 decision."
TOTALS: 4-4 EVEN
WHO WILL WIN THE SAUL "CANELO" ALVAREZ vs. JOSESITO LOPEZ FIGHT?
Gabriel Rosado: ALVAREZ by DECISION
"I like Josesito Lopez. He's got a lot of heart. But I think the size is just too much. If he did it gradually it might be more natural. But this being his first time at 154, he's not going to be a strong guy. I think Canelo is just going to overpower him. Canelo should stop him, but Josesito has a lot of heart. So I can see him making it through."
Charles Whittaker: ALVAREZ by KO
"You have to like Canelo. Now you can't underestimate a guy like Lopez because he's coming off a fight he wasn't supposed to win, but I like Canelo. I think it becomes a grind down fight and I like Canelo. I like Canelo all day."
Billy Briscoe (Trainer of Gabriel Rosado): ALVAREZ by KO
"I think Canelo is just going to be too big for him. Josesito is really a 140 pounder. Later on in the fight, the size and the pressure of the bigger man will break him down. Maybe 10th, 11th round."
Ronald Cruz: ALVAREZ by DECISION
"I don't see Lopez coming up two weight classes and beating a stronger fighter like that. Lopez has a lot of heart. So he'll probably finish the fight, but who know? Canelo is pretty strong, so he might stop him, but I think Lopez will make it to the end."
Antwone Smith: ALVAREZ by KO
"I think Canelo should win easy, but Josesito will be in there for a little bit."
Indio Rodriguez (Trainer of Ronald Cruz): ALVAREZ by KO
"Canelo Alvarez is going to kill Josesito Lopez. There's no doubt about it, because Joseito Lopez, that's not his weight. Josesito Lopez should have nothing to do with Canelo Alvarez. I don't like that match."
Sergey Kovalev: NO PICK
"I really don't follow anybody else's career, and I'm not a big expert with a prediction."
Lionell Thompson: LOPEZ by DECISION
"That's a toss-up. That's going to be a good fight. I can't wait to see that fight. They are both tough, and they both levy punches with murder on them. Lopez is coming off that Ortiz win, and Canelo has got a lot on his hands. But Canelo is tough. It comes down to who has the better conditioning. I'm going to go with Lopez."
TOTALS: 6-1-1 for ALVAREZ
ABOUT SEPTEMBER 21
The Smith-Cruz, Kovalev-Thompson and Whittaker-Rosado fights top a seven-bout card at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem. First fight is 7.15 pm (ET). Tickets priced at $80 and $55 can be purchased through the offices of Peltz Boxing (215-765-0922), all Ticketmaster outlets (800-745-3000) or at the box office at the Sands Event Center (610-297-7414). Tickets also can be purchased online at www.peltzboxing.com, www.SandsEventCenter.com and www.Ticketmaster.com. Luxury suite tickets at $130 apiece also are available. In Bethlehem, tickets are available at Deja Brew, Inc., 101 West 4th Street (610-865-2739) and at Pronto Insurance Notary, 232 East 3rd Street (610-419-6790).
NBC Sports Network will televise the Cruz-Smith, Kovalev-Thompson and Rosado-Whittaker fights, beginning at 9 pm (ET).