5 keys for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Plotting a path to victory against Sergio Martinez
The middleweight title bout between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Sergio Martinez on Saturday from Las Vegas will feature two fighters from completely different backgrounds fighting for much more than Latin-American bragging rights.
Chavez (46-0-1, 32 KO) and Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KO) will wage a war that could end up defining the new generation of middleweights, with their two contrasting styles encompassing almost the entire spectrum at 160 pounds.
In what probably will be the ultimate crossroads fight, the young and plodding Chavez will seek to impose his heavier hands and sturdier chin against an older and faster Martinez, who likely will try to play matador against Chavez's bullish act. The stage is set for a grudge match between two guys who have made their mutual dislike the centerpiece of this promotion. They also are among the hungriest fighters today in their search for popularity, respect from media and fans, and the ultimate prize that comes from sitting atop one of boxing's elite divisions.
Here we discuss five keys that could take Chavez to victory on Saturday:
|Boxing is far from being a stats game, but some numbers are worth looking at. According to CompuBox, Chavez has landed the most body punches during a 12-round fight (143) since the company began keeping track. Great news, right? An essential tool in the always difficult task of taking an opponent's legs out. But Martinez, with his awkward southpaw stance and his perpetual lateral motion, will be Chavez's toughest target to date. But no matter how mobile Martinez is, sooner or later Chavez will find a way to connect with him. And only then will the fight start to turn in his favor. |
The right diet
may be wrong for you. And it's the right hands that Chavez eats so steadily (a favorite course in his daily fare) that we're talking about here. And we have the videos to prove it. Chavez's head is snapped repeatedly by any powerful and meaningful right hand that flies his way from any angle or stance (southpaw or orthodox). And he will have to find a way to stop that stream of right hands that land flush on his head if he wants to have any chance of success. Chavez is rapidly improving on several aspects of his defensive game, but he will need a crash course on how to stop Martinez's fast right-hand bombs if he wants to stay in the fight for more than six rounds. |
Put it all together
|Chavez has managed to make one little change in every one of his past few fights, adding minor improvements in several isolated areas of his game. But in this fight he will be facing one of the most resourceful fighters in the entire game, and he will need every tool in his bag at his immediate disposal. Winning this fight with only one weapon or only one combination of punches is not a possibility. Chavez will have to make a list of his entire arsenal and make sure every weapon is readily available for this particular fight. Taking punches while working for a chance to counterpunch with the usual late-round onslaught may not work this time. If he does bring his entire bag of tricks into the fight and uses it generously throughout the bout, his chances will increase dramatically. |
Walk the walk
|The "Chavez walk" is an exercise known around the boxing world: hands in the back of your head, lifting the left leg to touch the right elbow with the left knee, and vice versa. It does get tiresome, and the legs start to weigh heavier and heavier after a few minutes. There's no way to know whether Junior has abused this exercise or taken it to heart, but he has become exasperatingly slow in the ring, with virtually no footwork and very little lateral movement. If it works for him, why should he change it, right? Well, it would work better if he used his slow steps to get to the right place at the right time. His legendary dad was not too fast on his legs either, but he could cut the ring off like almost no one else before or since. Junior should focus on learning that Chavez walk, and be able to corner his opponent in the right spot instead of just waiting for him to bring the fight to him until it's too late. He's good at not getting cornered himself, but that's not going to be enough this time around. |
Guns and ammo
|Junior will definitely be the younger and fresher fighter in this fight, but Martinez is probably the most agile and fresh fighter in the over-35 demographic in boxing. Chavez has been having some weight issues lately, and many people made a big deal out of that, but he will be in shape for this particular fight. And yet, trying to outwork a fantastic athlete like Martinez will prove to be too difficult a task. Chavez needs to turn this into a physically grinding fight in which his better stamina will eventually have a chance to prevail, and in which his better firepower could emerge as the deciding factor. Any attempt to outbox and outjab Martinez would be futile, and even his father would have faced the same adverse situation if pitted against Martinez, even in his prime. This one has to be fought in the trenches, but with the heaviest artillery available. No long-distance missiles, just hand-thrown grenades and shoulder-launched rockets. |
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.
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