By Chris Robinson
On September 15th, one of the biggest fights of the year will go down at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada when WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. takes his biggest step forward as a professional in tangling with Argentina’s Sergio Martinez.
A fascinating fight on paper, as the 26-year old Chavez, who has improved tremendously under Freddie Roach over the past few years, will look to chop down the ultra-athletic and cagey Martinez, who is still in fine form at 37 years of age.
It’s surprising to see the fight less than two months from officially going down, as it was evident for quite some time that Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who co-promotes Chavez, was steering his fighter away from Martinez until the time was right.
Bob Arum admits that he kept Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. away from Sergio Martinez.
Speaking to me about the pay-per-view attraction earlier this month, Arum confirmed as much.
“Chavez wasn’t ready to fight Martinez,” Arum would tell me bluntly. “Now he’s ready. It should be a good, competitive fight. I wasn’t just going to throw Chavez to the wolves and besides, the public wants a competitive fight. Everybody now realizes how competitive the fight is.”
It was announced in late April of 2010 that Chavez would be looking to polish his skills under the tutelage of Roach. At the time the Sinaloa, Mexico fighter’s career was at a bit of a crossroads, as he had seen his ten-round unanimous decision victory over Troy Rowland months earlier changed to a No-Contest after Chavez was found to have been taking the illegal substance furosemide prior to the match.
There had also been whispers of Chavez’s lack of work ethic but under Roach he has flourished, reeling off entertaining victories over the likes of John Duddy, Sebastian Zbik, Peter Manfredo, Marco Antonio Rubio, and most recently Andy Lee, who he stopped in seven rounds in El Paso last month.
Arum admits he wasn’t fully expecting such a dramatic change in Chavez.
“I hoped it would happen,” Arum continued. “I knew he was enormously talented. He has the genes. I’m not surprised but I wouldn’t say I was expecting it.”
There had been some initial confusion as to whether or not Chavez had taken a pre-fight drug test for his bout with Lee, with the Irish pug’s trainer Emanuel Steward showing his share of suspicions towards the young champion during a conversation with me a few weeks after the clash.
When informed of Steward’s curiosities, Arum made sure to set the record straight.
“Of course he got tested by the commission,” Arum claimed. “It came back negative. People like Emanuel, who should know better, are really hurting boxing by making these wild statements. He feels bad that Lee got beaten badly but you shouldn’t disparage the opponent.”
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