After a year of trying to get Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to fight him, Sergio Martinez finally got his wish. And he certainly took advantage of the opportunity.
Martinez justified his reputation as one of the top-three pound-for-pound fighters in the world in the eyes of many, as he defeated Chavez and claimed the WBC middleweight belt Saturday night.
Martinez dominated the early and middle parts of the fight, but that didn't stop both fighters from a furious finish. Chavez started gaining momentum in the 11th round, and he even scored a knockdown in the 12th.
However, Martinez was saved by the bell. He won via unanimous decision, winning the coveted middleweight belt.
It was an exciting fight, and the finish was one of the best in recent memory. Both fighters put forth a tremendous effort, but Chavez couldn't get the knockout he needed at the end.
Martinez had everything to lose in this fight. Had he not been able to secure the middleweight title, it's possible the 37-year-old would have slowly faded into boxing irrelevance as the sport looked toward younger contenders to challenge Chavez.
That's what makes this win so impressive. He wasn't just fighting Chavez; he was fighting off the inevitability of eventually sacrificing his place among boxing's elite as well. To a certain extent, his reputation was on the line.
For Chavez, this is certainly a setback, but likely just a temporary one. He's still a big draw. He's still considered one of the elite middleweights around. He'll be back.
Still, you can't help but wonder if this will only embolden those fans who whisper that Chavez is overrated, that he is only such a huge draw because he is the son of the greatest Mexican fighter of all time.
On this night, the Chavez name couldn't save him. And for one more fight, Martinez quieted the talk that he was slowing down and his time among the elite was drawing to a close.
Martinez has the belt he probably deserved to hold much sooner. He won't go gently into the night, at least not yet.
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