by Cliff Rold
They aren’t both fighting on 9/15 for no reason. Let’s call it “Mas Mexicano” as the two biggest young stars south of the border go head to head. No, they’re not fighting each other. But they are surely fighting for market position.
The old adage is without a main event, there is no main event. So far, ticket sales and media attention say only one of Saturday’s two big Mexican Independence Day shows has a real main event. Sergio Martinez defending against the scion of Mexico’s Ali, Julio Cesar Chavez, is this weekend’s biggest fight. The question at play is whether a competing show featuring Saul “Canelo” Alvarez can take a big enough chunk out of Martinez-Chavez to hurt.
There really isn’t any question which fight best qualifies as ‘must-see’
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: World Champion Sergio Martinez vs. #5 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (Saturday, HBO PPV, 9 PM EST/6 PM PST)
Boxing being its own strange world, Chavez is being treated as the champ here because he has “Uncle Jose’s” WBC belt. Let’s not kid though. The WBC is a silly thing, but it is a thing with political stroke. Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KO) is giving them their due so he can get his hands on a guy who may finally help him cross over to real stardom. Martinez is the real Middleweight Champion and this is his most important defense. Chavez (46-0-1, 32 KO) has improved greatly in the last couple years, enough so that this one time laugher is a real fight. This is going to be a fight for as long as it lasts, and it might just last awhile. The Guillermo Rigondeaux appearance looks likes its on again to help fill out the card, giving red meat to the “Cult of Rigo” who waits for their man’s turn at one of the big names at 122 lbs.
Pick Showtime: #5 Saul Alvarez vs. #3 at Welterweight Josesito Lopez (Saturday, Showtime, 9 PM EST)
While Alvarez (39-0-1, 29 KO) defending his Jr. Middleweight belt against a guy who was at Jr. Welterweight two fights ago is not as appealing as Martinez-Chavez, it isn’t without appeal. Lopez (30-4, 18 KO) is at least a tougher challenge than the man Alvarez was allowed to cherry pick to win his belt (Welterweight Matthew Hatton). Coming off his shocking upset of Victor Ortiz over the summer, Lopez has a wild chance to get in the driver’s seat for Fighter of the Year honors if he can win again this weekend. This show has something the HBO pay show does not and that is a guaranteed bruiser is support. The Featherweight title tilt between #4 and WBC titlist Jhonny Gonzalez (52-7, 45 KO) and former Jr. Featherweight beltholder and #9 Daniel Ponce De Leon (43-4, 35 KO) features two flawed bangers who can each get the other out of there. Gonzalez-De Leon is worth changing the channel for while waiting for Martinez-Chavez to kick off.
Pick Deuce: Jesse Vargas vs. Aaron Martinez (Thursday, ESPN2, 10 PM EST/7 PM PST)
Friday Night Fights may be done for the NFL season, but that doesn’t mean they can’t squeeze in a Thursday night slot for the fall. One of the better rising Welterweights, Vargas (19-0, 9 KO) has a night where the spotlight is his. Martinez (18-1-1, 4 KO) isn’t a bad little fighter himself. He should make Vargas work for it. Can he do better than that?
Back in seven.
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Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]