HBO PPV 9:00 PM, Saturday, September 15th, 2012 from The Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV
Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs) vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32 KOs)
Weight Class: Middleweight (160 Pounds)
Title: Martinez’s Recognized Undisputed Championship and Chavez Jr.’s WBC Title
Analysis: This is a bitter feud that many thought we would never see play out in the ring. It all started when HBO refused to accept then WBC titlist Sergio Martinez’s mandatory opponent Sebastian Zbik. Martinez would instead face a tougher opponent in HBO approved undefeated junior middleweight titlist Serhiy Dzinziruk. The WBC then stripped Martinez of his title for not facing Zbik. The vacated title would be awarded to the winner of a bout between Zbik and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. In a show of hypocrisy and downright shady politics, HBO approved Zbik as an opponent for Chavez Jr. Rightfully so, Martinez was infuriated. Chavez Jr. won the title and Martinez has wanted revenge ever since.
This bout features an interesting matchup. Martinez is a natural junior middleweight who moved up to middleweight in an effort to secure bigger fights. Chavez Jr. is a super middleweight or even a light heavyweight who drains himself to middleweight (or close to it) for bouts. Chavez Jr., no doubt, will be the bigger man come fight night. He will likely outweight Martinez by 15 pounds Saturday night.
Both fighters have different skill sets. Martinez is a southpaw who uses his speed and pinpoint punches to defeat opponents. He has a high ring IQ and a technically sound delivery. He will sport advantages in hand speed, reflexes, and foot speed. Chavez is the larger fighter. He will sport advantages in power, length, and the body attack. He also seems to have an iron chin, but that could also be a result of matchmaking. We will know more after Saturday night. At 26, Chavez is also the younger fighter by eleven years.
In this bout, I expect Martinez to use his foot and hand speed to box and pepper Chavez Jr. Martinez must keep his emotions in check and not do anything foolish or Chavez will make him pay. I expect Chavez to go to the body early and often. He needs to take away Martinez’s legs. He needs to lean on Martinez and wrestle with him. Chavez must make Martinez feel every bit the 37 years he is. We should see early how much Chavez has improved and how much his results have been through great matchmaking. Simply put, Chavez has not faced a fighter the level of Martinez even if he is small, aging, and not what he once was. Martinez is also, oddly enough, probably the hardest puncher Chavez has faced.
Martinez is a man possessed. He is focused. He has been in huge fights against world class fighters. This is Chavez’s first trip to the dance so to speak. I really like Martinez to fight an inspire fight. He will use his footwork, movement, hand speed, and ring IQ to win a decision. However, I am not sure I can pick him to win. Why? Because I don’t think he can win a decision against Chavez. The promoter, Bob Arum, wants Chavez to win. The network, HBO, wants Chavez to win. The location, Las Vegas, wants Chavez to win. The business, boxing, wants Chavez to win. I get the feeling we could see a highly controversial decision in Chavez’s favor. The setup kind of reminds me of Oscar De La Hoya’s win over Pernell Whitaker. It seemed clear to everyone that Whitaker defeated De La Hoya except the three judges, HBO execs (though Larry Merchant voiced his opinion that Whitaker won), and Bob Arum.
I hate to do it and I really wish this type of thought did not enter into boxing, but I will have to go with Chavez, not because I think he will win, but because I think the judges will not let him lose. Here is hoping I am wrong, but I unfortunately doubt it. Martinez should win 116-112 or 117-111, Instead, Chaves gets the decision in highly controversial fashion. Heck, it may even be a robbery.
Prediction: Chavez 116-112
Roman Martinez (25-1-1, 16 KOs) vs. Miguel Beltran (27-1, 17 KOs)
Weight Class: Junior Lightweight (130 Pounds)
Title: The Vacant WBO Title
Analysis: Both fighters have good records, but only Martinez has been tested. In fact, Martinez is a former 130 pound titlist while Beltran has officially never fought for a title (his bout with Juan Carlos Salgado was ruled a no contest in the second round after an accidental clash of heads opened up cut on the left eyebrow of Salgado). I will take Martinez based on his experience to win this bout. He also has slight height and reach advantages.
Prediction: Martinez 116-112
Guillermo Rigondeaux (10-0, 8 KOs) vs. Robert Marroquin (22-1, 15 KOs)
Weight Class: Junior Featherweight (122 Pounds)
Title: Rigondeaux’s WBA Title
Analysis: This will be Rigondeaux’s second defense of the WBA junior featherweight title. There is not much to say about this bout except mismatch. Marroquin’s record is highly deceiving. His resume is littered with non-descript fighters. Rigondeaux has advantages in speed, quickness, technique, skill, power, ring IQ, defense, and any other intangible you wish to choose. Rigondeaux takes this bout with a mid round stoppage.
Prediction: Rigondeaux KO5
Matthew Macklin (28-4, 19 KOs) vs. Joachim Alcine (33-2-1, 19 KOs)
Weight Class: Middleweight (160 Pounds)
Analysis: This bout features two fighters trying to get back into title contention. Macklin is coming off an eleventh round stoppage loss against Sergio Martinez. A former junior middleweight titlist, Alcine is looking to establish roots in the middleweight division after suffering a couple of knockout losses at 154 pounds. I like Macklin in this bout. He is the younger, more technically sound fighter in this matchup. He is also larger fighter. I like Macklin to use these advantages en route to a mid to late round stoppage.
Prediction: Macklin KO8
SHOWTIME 9:00 PM, Saturday, September 15th, 2012 from The MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV
Saul Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs) vs. Josesito Lopez (30-4, 18 KOs)
Weight Class: Junior Middleweight (154 Pounds)
Title: Alvarez’s WBC Title
Analysis: This will be the fifth defense of the WBC junior middleweight title for Alvarez. His opponent is Josesito Lopez who landed this bout after scoring an upset stoppage of Victor Ortiz in their June 23, 2012 bout. Lopez was a heavy underdog in that bout, but was able to score the big upset by withstanding the early Ortiz pressure and eventually breaking his jaw. While it was a great performance of grit and determination by Lopez, he does not belong in the same ring as Alvarez. Lopez fought most of his career at 135 pounds or less. Lopez, who was just moving up to 140 pounds, was considered small entering his 147 pound bout with Ortiz. Now Lopez will move up to 154 pounds to face Alvarez. For his part, Alvarez is outgrowing the 154 pound division. He will be fighting in the middleweight division soon. Simply put, Lopez is too small to be competitive in this bout. He can’t hurt Alvarez. Lopez is also not quick enough nor does he possess the boxing skills to successfully attack and get away from Alvarez. Too big and too strong will be the words I expect to hear over and over again tonight. Alvarez will take his time and counter Lopez. As the bout progresses, Alvarez will continue to breakdown Lopez en route to a stoppage win.
Prediction: Alvarez KO8
Jhonny Gonzalez (52-7, 45 KOs) vs. Daniel Ponce De Leon (43-4, 35 KOs)
Weight Class: Featherweight (126 Pounds)
Title: Gonzalez’s WBC Title
Analysis: Jhonny Gonzalez makes the fifth defense of his WBC featherweight title against Daniel Ponce De Leon. This will be the best fight on the SHOWTIME card. We have to fighters with great power who possess questionable chins. I highly doubt this goes the ful twelve rounds. Oh, and it is a tossup bout. You probably will have just as good a chance at predicting this bout by flipping a coin than breaking it down. However, I am going to break it down and give a prediction because that is what I do. Adding to the intrigue of this bout is that Gonzalez is an orthodox fighter while Ponce De Leon is a southpaw. The easiest punch for each to land will be their lead power hands (right for Gonzalez and left for Ponce De Leon). I am going with Ponce De Leon to win this bout. Though made a slight underdog by the odds makers in this toss up bout, I think a few factors will tip this bout to Ponce De Leon. First, He is an awkward fighter. His punches come from unusual angles which will make it hard for Gonzalez to not only defend against, but to counter. Second, though Gonzalez has a two inch height advantage, I think Ponce De Leon will be the bigger man in the ring. His thicker frame will suit him well against Gonzalez. Also, Gonzalez started his career one weight class below Ponce De Leon. While that doesn’t always matter, I think it does here. With two even fighters with similar strengths and weaknesses, Ponce De Leon’s slight size advantage could play a role. Finally, and contrary to popular opinion, I think Gonzalez’s chin issues are much greater than those of Ponce De Leon. Yes, everyone remembers Ponce De Leon getting starched in one round against Juan Manuel Lopez, but that was his only loss by knockout. Gonzalez has been stopped three times and hurt on other occasions. I think Gonzalez is going to look to box in this bout. He will try to use a jab and keep the fight at a distance. This strategy will work for the first half of the bout. However, Ponce De Leon will continue to try and get inside and start to see success in the middle half of the fight. Ponce De Leon will then break Gonzalez down and stop him in the ninth.
Prediction: Ponce De Leon KO9
Leo Santa Cruz (20-0-1, 11 KOs) vs. Eric Morel (46-3, 23 KOs)
Weight Class: Bantamweight (118 Pounds)
Title: Cruz’s IBF Title
Analysis: Leo Santa Cruz will make his first defense of the IBF bantamweight title when he faces former 112 titlist Eric Morel. Cruz, 24, is an up and coming fighter who is showing promise. Morel, 36, is an aging former titlist whose best days are behind him. Morel is going to be the smaller man and will need to move and use boxing skills to extend fight. Cruz will look to get in close and rip Morel. Morel is a savvy veteran who knows how to survive as evidenced in his last bout against Abner Mares. This one will go the distance with Cruz taking a comfortable decision.
Prediction: Cruz 118-110
Marcos Maidana (31-3, 28 KOs) vs. Jesus Soto Karass (26-7-3, 17 KOs)
Weight Class: Welterweight (147 Pounds)
Analysis: This is an intriguing bout to me. Based on the odds and name recognition, it sounds like an easy win for Marcos Maidana. However, I am not so sure. Though listed as a 3-1 underdog, I like Soto-Karass in this bout. Maidana is very small for a welterweight. I am not sure he brings his vaunted power from the 140 pound division when he moves up to 147. He is slow and plodding, showing an ability to be easily out boxed. Just see his recent bouts against Amir Khan and Devon Alexander for proof. Soto-Karass is by no means a world beater. He is limited fighter with decent whiskers who makes up for many of his deficiencies with heart and a will to win. I like him in this bout for a few reasons. First, he is a natural welterweight. He will be bigger than Maidana and probably able to absorb Maidana’s power. Second, I like the technical matchup for Soto-Karass. Maidana is the kind of guy who will eat jabs all night. Soto-Karass will be able to pump his jab and follow up with right to score points. Finally, I like Soto-Karass’s ability to move. No, he is not a great mover by any stretch of the imagination, but he is good enough compared to the plodding style of Maidana. I think Maidana is going to have a tough time getting inside the long reach of Soto-Karass. I like Soto-Karass to pull the upset and score a decision win.
Prediction: Soto-Karass 116-112