Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (L) and Sergio Martinez trade punches in the second round of their WBC middleweight title fight at the Thomas & Mack Center on September 15, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(September 14, 2012 – Source: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images North America)
“Fighting a dumb last round was the smartest thing my guy ever did in his career,” the promoter for Sergio Martinez told USA TODAY Sports.
“This is a monumental event.”
Here is why: The epic 12th round between Martinez, who reclaimed his world middleweight championship, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., might lead to a more lucrative rematch for the new champ — possibly at Cowboys Stadium or perhaps even in Martinez’s native Argentina.
Or maybe — just maybe — it might lead to a 2013 super-fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Martinez did what he vowed to accomplish in the contentious days leading to their 160-pound title bout. He almost got drilled right through the canvas because of it.
Leading comfortably on three judges’ scorecards, the macho Argentinean engaged in a toe-to-toe slugfest in the 12th round after he was wobbled and knocked down.
Chavez, bleeding with a swollen face, blasted his challenger to the canvas with a searing left hook. Martinez hit the deck twice, but the second knockdown was ruled a slip. Martinez, who had predicted he would punish and then knock out the previously undefeated champion from Mexico, survived the onslaught to win a unanimous decision before a delirious sellout crowd of more than 19,000 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“He hurt me,” Martinez acknowledged, “but I continued to fight like the warrior I am.”
In the days leading to their ring confrontation, DiBella worried aloud that Martinez would allow his macho side to take over, possibly to his detriment. And it nearly transpired as the promoter feared.
“It shows you what I was worried about the whole time — that if my guy got too careless. He was in there with a much bigger, stronger, younger kid,” he said. “He gave him a clinic for 11 rounds, but couldn’t stop that desire to knock him out. The desire to knock out (Chavez) almost got him knocked out.”
An ill-advised move from a tactical perspective — DiBella said he was screaming “Hold on! Hold on!” after Martinez rose from the first knockdown — but a wonderful, if unintentional, gambit if you want another fat payday. In this case, Martinez took “short money” — a $1.4 million guarantee. Chavez, 26, received a minimum guarantee of $3 million.
Sure enough, Martinez’s fantastic — and dangerous — finish caught the attention of one Jerry Jones.
Co-promoter Bob Arum said the owner of the Dallas Cowboys immediately called him after the thrilling conclusion and offered to host a Martinez-Chavez Jr. rematch in Dallas, where he has promoted fights for Manny Pacquiao.
When it comes to Martinez, Arum is out of the mix because it is DiBella who holds promotional rights to the Argentina-born boxer who lives in Spain.
“My philosophy is when you have lightning in a bottle, you don’t let it go,” DiBella said. “A rematch probably sells out Cowboys Stadium. It’s the biggest fight you can make in boxing right now, probably. I know Julio wants it. Sergio will do whatever we ask him to do. If the fans want a rematch, that’s what you’re going to see.”
But wait, what about “Pretty Boy” Mayweather?
The new champion, asked if he would rather fight Chavez Jr. again — or challenge the unbeaten welterweight champion — said he wanted to take his time and consider his options, but that Mayweather, 35, considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, was a possibility. Mayweather, beset by personal problems and following a stint in jail this year, has fought only four times since 2008.
“I never will say no to anyone,” Martinez said. “I will fight anyone they bring to the table.”
DiBella said Martinez was going on vacation, but, of course, “My phone lines are always open.”
Martinez and his adviser Samson Lewkowicz seemed more interested in securing a second bout against Chavez Jr. more than they wanted Mayweather Jr.
“We plan to give the rematch immediately … in Argentina,” said the champion.
“No one’s making any decisions tonight,” he said.
No, this was a time to celebrate. There will be time later to cash in and negotiate the new champion’s first defense of his new crown. At 37, time is of the essence for Martinez.
“At this stage of his career, he is going to fight the biggest possible fights he can fight — period,” DiBella said. “If Mayweather wants to fight, they know how to reach me.”