There is a stark difference between Sergio Martinez and the man he will oppose Saturday night, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.
Martinez has scrapped and clawed his way to a 49-2-2 career record, while Chavez Jr., the son of the legendary boxer with whom he shares a full name, sits at 46-0-1 (1), his only career blemishes coming in a draw in 2005 and a no-contest following weight restrictions in 2009.
That scrapping and clawing that Martinez has made public in his pre-fight promoting will be on display when he knocks out Chavez Jr. on the way to the WBO middleweight title.
As Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix reports, Martinez has taken the high road in his approach to Chavez Jr., even after being stripped of his title because HBO would not approve his title fight with Sebastian Zbik. Chavez went on to win the title against Zbik later that year.
Up until now, that is.
Martinez has repeatedly bashed his opponent in interviews leading up to the fight, saying he was handed each opportunity he was given because of his name and that each time he defended the title he did so against fighters who "aren't ranked in the 100 of the world."
But for the southpaw Martinez, now is the chance to back up his talk of Chavez not deserving the zero he's posted in the loss column.
It's a fight with a storyline that could be huge for boxing: the son of a legend vs. the son of a poor man in a small country. The 37-year-old Martinez vs. the 26-year-old Chavez. The allure of big-time boxing vs. the pride in a small-time fighter who outworked everyone else to the top.
This isn't going to be an easy one for Martinez. Though he knocked out his last four opponents, none of them had the pedigree that Chavez will bring to the table.
He'll be outweighed by 10 to 15 pounds and lose two inches to the taller, thicker Chavez. But this is a fight that has the potential to go down in boxing folklore as one of the classics, and it will do so on the fists of a Martinez victory.
After all the struggles of having his title stripped, watching Chavez win time after time and being perfectly aware that he himself is only growing older, Maravilla has one last shot to be the dominant force in the sport that he personally feels he has been all along.
I'm predicting a TKO in the 10th for Martinez, whose focus and preparation will teach the young Chavez a lesson going forward in his career.
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