One of the biggest criticisms leveled at Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. entering his middleweight fight against Sergio Martinez is his relatively light schedule in the opponents he's faced throughout his career.
There is some validity to the heat Chavez takes, but the unconventional path that has led him to Saturday's bout will actually be his biggest asset against the more experienced Argentine fighter 12 years his senior.
Both the WBC and The Ring middleweight titles are at stake, with Chavez holding the former and Martinez the latter. Even before the two have entered the ring, neither has pulled any punches in the press, taking vocal jabs at each other all week to stir the tension.
On the weekend of Mexican Independence Day, Chavez will look have the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas mostly in his corner, as ESPN.com's Dan Rafael observes.
Any dismissal of Chavez for being coddled by his promoters—as Martinez himself suggests—or as simply a beneficiary of his legendary father's boxing career have been proved wrong through his fighting. In 48 career fights, Chavez has yet to lose a decision. All he knows how to do is win, and apparently it runs in his family.
A composed Chavez has been on display throughout the week, as he refuses to give in to any of the trash talk that Martinez is spouting, opting to take the high road and suggest that Martinez is scared of fighting him.
Martinez is arguably the best middleweight fighter in the world, having held three different championship belts all at once back in 2010 as the Fighter of the Year recipient.
One of Chavez's top promoters is Bob Arum, and in Rafael's story, he answers why Chavez didn't fight Martinez sooner. He points to Chavez's most recent, first-ever bout with a southpaw in Andy Lee, who Chavez TKO'd in the seventh round:
There was no way we would ever think of making a Martinez fight unless he had the performance he had against Andy Lee...no friggin' way, because otherwise we could very well have been leading him to slaughter.
Whether that scant experience against the unorthodox style will translate to a great fight with Martinez remains to be seen. However, the lower level of punishment on Chavez's body and his tendency to fight heavier than his opponent may justify the slow development process that so many have criticized during his successful career.
The big Vegas stage awaits, and with it a shot for Chavez to prove that he has finally arrived, and is ready to carve out his own legacy from the shadow of his father.
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