By Francisco Salazar
It was a psychological ploy; one that Sergio Martinez says has worked thus far on WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
“I mentally had to get in his head,” Martinez told BoxingScene.com after a recent workout. “It was part of the job. If you noticed during the (“24/7”) program, he never makes eye contact with me. That shows that he has no confidence, especially with the magnitude of this fight.”
Martinez (49-2-2. 28 KOs) came out of the nowhere to the casual boxing fan after an eight-round destruction of Alex Bunema on October 4th, 2008. Since then, Martinez has fought some of best super welterweights and middleweights in boxing at that time.
Martinez won a 12 round unanimous decision over Kelly Pavlik, which was sandwiched between Martinez’s two fights with Paul Williams. Martinez lost a disputed 12 round majority decision to Williams before scoring the scintillating second round knockout that is still a popular YouTube search for fight fans.
Because of the magnitude of those fights and whom he has fought, Martinez thinks that has prepared him for Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Saturday night will be the biggest spectacle I will be a part of in my career,” said Martinez, who is promoted by Lou DiBella and advised by Sampson Lewkowicz. “The atmosphere in Las Vegas on Saturday will be electric. It is the fight of my career and I feel that who I have fought in previous tough fights will give me the advantage.”
Martinez is the slick and fast southpaw, who has demonstrated devastating punching power in recent fights. He has knocked out his last four opponents in a row and believes he has enough power to knock Chavez out.
Although Chavez has improved as a boxer in recent fights against Marco Antonio Rubio, and in his recent fight in June against Andy Lee, his power is what some analysts wonder if Martinez could withstand.
Martinez points out that he is the knockout artist, not Chavez.
“I agree that Chavez can punch and he’s strong. That’s it. However, I’m the one who has demonstrated power in my last four fights and not him. I’m going to the attack the body early and take away his legs.”
Having fought in the United States within the last four years has allowed American fight fans to be exposed to the Argentine fighter. Martinez’s popularity has increased amongst fight fans or at the least has caused intrigue in the fighter.
According to those close to him, including trainer Pablo Sarmiento, his humble attitude and being approachable to fight fans has increased his fan base.
“I think I have more fans on my side, even though I have fought as a visitor in this country,” said Martinez, even though he owns a home in Oxnard, CA.
Although Martinez is 37 years old (he will turn 38 on February 21st), Martinez believes he has a lot left in the boxing game. A victory over Chavez could solidify his standing as not only a boxing star, but a recognizable athlete here and abroad.
While those around them say he is as motivated as ever, especially with potential lucrative fights on the horizon, Martinez has faith in his ability and believes he is still at the top of his game.
“I think that I’m still in the best part of my career. I’ve demonstrated that I’m confident in my ability to win.”
Prior to the second Paul Williams fight, Martinez stated that he would knock out Paul Williams by the seventh round. He offered a prediction for his fight with Chavez.
“This fight will end by the 11th round.”