- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Sergio Martinez, the real middleweight champion, has wanted to fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for more than a year, ever since Chavez won a belt -– which had been stripped from Martinez -- from Sebastian Zbik.
Chavez Jr. has also wanted to fight Martinez in order to shut him up and show he’s for real.
Top Rank, Chavez’s promoter, understandably didn’t want to make the fight until it felt that Chavez was ready for such a gigantic step up in competition. But after seeing how Argentina’s Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs) has had at least some struggles in knockout wins against Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin in his past two bouts, and how good Mexican star Chavez (46-0-1, 32 KOs) has looked in his past two defenses -- a points rout of Marco Antonio Rubio and a seventh-round knockout of Andy Lee (a southpaw to boot, like Martinez) -- the fight has finally been made.
They’ll hook up in one of the biggest fights of the of the year on Sept. 15 (HBO PPV) at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas in what is shaping up to a be a serious war or words before the actual fight.
Martinez and Chavez don’t seem to like each other much. Martinez, 37, feels like the 26-year-old Chavez has been handed everything he has because of his famous name as the son of all-time great Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. That has rubbed Junior the wrong way.
Before any major pay-per-view, the fighters go out on tour to promote the event, which Martinez and Chavez did, hitting the road last week with stops in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York followed by a final news conference on Tuesday in Mexico City.
Throughout the tour, they sounded like they were ready to throw down already.
"This is the fight I've always wanted,” Chavez said during the tour. “Martinez has said a lot of bad things. Let's see if he wants to go to the center of the ring and fight like a man. I have real one-punch knockout power. I don't think Martinez has that power. After all his verbal bravado, I just hope he stands in the middle of the ring and fights like a man.
"I have this great opportunity to shut Martinez's mouth. On Sept. 15 he will finally realize he has underestimated me -- when the referee is counting to 10 over him. My dad always stressed body punching. I have a very good chin. I can take a good punch and I can throw a good punch and those will be two very hard lessons Martinez will learn on Sept. 15.”
Martinez has never been one to talk smack before his fights, but he has for Chavez. He seems as pumped up for the fight as any he’s had.
“There is no way Chavez Jr. can beat me,” he said during the Mexico City tour stop. “I will knock him out inside seven rounds. I gave his father a baby bottle (at the press conference) so he can take it to his baby after I give Junior a real beating. He won’t be eating solid food with the few teeth remaining after I get through with him."
Earlier on the tour, Martinez said, “I am a much better fighter now than when I won the middleweight titles. Chavez Jr. cannot match up to the knowledge and experience I have acquired in the ring. Chavez may think the sun rises with him in Culiacan (Mexico) but on Sept. 15 he's going to find out that it's going to set on him in Las Vegas."
Martinez also addressed Chavez Sr., who turned 50 last week while accompanying his son on the tour.
"Mr. Chavez, take a look at your son now because you will not recognize his face without DNA after we have fought. I will beat him up."