Sergio Martinez survived a torrid final round to beat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and claim the WBC middleweight title in Las Vegas on Saturday night. A series of left hands early in the final round of a memorable bout knocked the Argentinian down and had him badly hurt.
However, the challenger returned fire and hung on to reach the final bell in a fight that, until the knockdown, he had been dominating. Martinez won on points over twelve rounds – 117-110 and 118-109 on the other two cards – at a packed Thomas & Mack Centre. Until the final round, the 37-year-old Martinez, whose record now stands at 50-2-2, with 28 knockouts, was far too fast and skilful for Chavez, who dropped to 46-1-1, 32KOs.
"He fought a great fight and he was a lot tougher than I expected," Martinez said. "He showed great heart. If Julio wants a rematch, we'll do a rematch."
Promoter Lou DiBella said his fighter wanted to knock Chavez out, and may have taken more chances than he should have in a fight he had well under control.
"You saw a boxing clinic for 11 rounds and you saw an epic last round," DiBella said. "I don't know how he held on."