By Jose M. Romero / @RomeroJoseM
Here’s what we learned Saturday night when the big fights in Las Vegas had ended:
1. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez remained undefeated at 41-0-1, and now the 22-year-old deserves a true test of his ability. Just who will provide that test remains to be seen, but Alvarez, as he did in May after a beatdown of Shane Mosley, made it clear that he wants Floyd Mayweather or Miguel Cotto in the super welterweight category. Is Alvarez ready? At 22, one might think not. But with 42 pro fights, at same point he has to fight one of the best. Josesito Lopez was not that on Saturday. It’s time to give Alvarez what he wants. It’s going to happen eventually, why not sooner than later?
2. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. waited too long to unleash the knockout power he clearly has. But what a finish to that fight with Sergio Martinez. One had to wonder what Chavez was thinking, letting Martinez dance around and jab and move and not going after him until the end. Chavez is no longer undefeated, but he took a lot of shots from Martinez and also delivered them. Chavez hurt Martinez badly. Reports said Martinez suffered a broken hand, needed stitches above his eye and that he tore knee ligaments.
3. Martinez was pretty classy after the fight, paying tribute to the Mexican fans and his opponent. He seemed to walk away with a great deal of respect for Chavez Jr.
4. That respect, plus the fact that Chavez went the distance and hurt Martinez, is enough to earn Chavez a rematch, which Martinez said he would grant. But this fight did so much for Chavez. He lost, but he lost on his feet. He was hurt, banged up and bruised, but he still had enough left unleash his fury in the 12th round. He was frustrated, but he fought through it.
On Saturday night, Junior stepped out of his legendary father’s shadow and made his own name in boxing. Even in defeat. See, Mexican fight fans love a fighter who takes a beating but keeps fighting, even in defeat. They love Juan Manuel Marquez and Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. for this very reason. These guys dished out a lot of punishment in their careers – Marquez still fights – but also lost a few fights. And then they would train again and come back, never quitting despite the odds.
Did Mexican fans stop liking Chavez Sr. when he lost to Oscar de la Hoya? No. Chavez is a Mexican legend, a national treasure. His son now has a chance to get there, and the Martinez fight could be the start of his path to greatness.
Chavez Jr. might have had a privileged life growing up with his dad, but he showed he could fight, too. Consider that silver spoon removed from his mouth.
Can’t wait for the rematch, and Chavez, if he learns his lesson and attacks earlier in the fight, can definitely win back his lost title. Martinez might not have much more left to add to his arsenal, with his career closer to its end than beginning.