Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. had the stage and the fight that he wanted. Saturday night in Las Vegas vs. Sergio Martinez was the moment that he had waited years for. Yet after all that hype and build, Chavez failed miserably and suffered his first defeat.
There was one bright spot in the 12th round, when Chavez was able to knock Martinez down and it looked as though he might be able to salvage this fight, but it was not meant to be. Martinez walked away with a unanimous decision victory and the WBC middleweight championship.
When an athlete, particularly a young superstar who has never faced adversity, goes through a situation they have never faced before, you look for their response to it even more than searching for answers as to what went wrong.
But that would be missing the bigger picture of what Chavez showed as the fight went along. He was beaten, broken and humbled for 11 rounds, yet still managed to get back in the swing of things in the final round.
As Dan Rafael of ESPN.com wrote after the fight, the will and determination at the end spoke volumes about where Chavez is at right now.
All along, Chavez's promoter, Top Rank, was concerned about matching him with a southpaw, and Martinez exploited it for most of the fight. But no matter how badly Chavez, 26, was losing, he made his fans proud. He did not quit. He kept on trucking, no matter how dire the situation was, and he was almost rewarded.
Even though the history books will always show that Martinez defeated Chavez, this is going to be a monumental turning point in Chavez's career.
At just 26 years old, Chavez still has a lot of big years ahead of him. He will get countless title fights and become a fixture on pay-per-view thanks to this superstar-making effort on Saturday night.
But that final round was as big as any win Chavez had in his career. He made the biggest statement of his career in a loss.
He was being outstruck, outpointed and outmatched for 11 rounds. His limbs looked like they were going limp as he came out for the final round, yet he managed to put it all together to make the fight far more interesting than it had to be.
Chavez will have to climb back up the ladder—though losing to Martinez, who is arguably the No. 3 fighter in the world, is nothing to be ashamed of—but when he gets back on the horse, he will be better than ever.