By Jake Donovan
The biggest middleweight fight in years is officially on for Saturday evening at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. both made weight for their PPV headliner, which will be for the lineal middleweight championship.
Martinez (49-2-2, 28KO) weighed in at 159 lb for what marks the fifth defense of the crown he won 2½ years ago. Chavez Jr (46-0-1, 32KO) was slightly lighter, looking fit and remarkably trim at 158 lb.
The fight has become personal for Martinez, who believes he was unceremoniously stripped of the very alphabet belt Chavez currently possesses. That hatred was carried throughout the promotion and all the way to the post-weigh in staredown, as Martinez immediately began jawing at his challenger.
“This fight is going to be a war because I want a war,” said Martinez. “It motivates me. It fuels me knowing that I’m going to punish him.”
Chavez Jr. seemed unfazed by the emotional state of his opponent.
“I just told him that I was going to beat him tomorrow,” Chavez Jr revealed. “He told me that he was going to rip my head off.”
A sold out crowd of more than 19,000 is expected on hand for the HBO PPV televised event. The majority of the crowd is expected to be heavily Mexican-influenced, in celebration of Mexican Independence Day weekend. Still, Martinez brought a sizeable weigh-in on Friday.
“Argentina, today we are the majority. I will put my life on the line for you,” Martinez claimed.
Martinez earned the middleweight championship with a 12-round decision win over Kelly Pavlik in April ’10. He has made four successful defenses, all by knockout.
Chavez won his first alphabet title with a 12-round points win over Sebastian Zbik last June. Three defenses have followed, with the most recent win a come-from-behind 7th round knockout of southpaw Andy Lee this past June.
The win convinced his handlers he was ready for the smooth Argentine boxer-puncher. The fans have bought in as well, as reflected on the record-breaking crowd for any boxing event at the Thomas and Mack Center, including Julio Cesar Chavez Sr’s win over Hector Camacho just over 20 years ago.
“It’s an honor that everyone is coming here to see me,” Chavez Jr said of the box office feat. “Tomorrow I am going to give them a victory. We worked hard on our diet and feel better than ever. Tomorrow I am going to be the best middleweight champion in the world.”
HBO PPV Bouts (Saturday, 9PM ET/6PM PT):
Sergio Martinez, 159 lb vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, 158 lb - 12 rounds, middleweight
Roman Martinez, 129 lb vs Miguel Beltran Jr, 131 lb - 12 rounds, super featherweight
Guillermo Rigondeaux, 122 lb vs Roberto Marroquin, 122 lb - 12 rounds, super bantamweight
Matthew Macklin, 160.5 lb vs Joachime Alcine, 158 lb - 10 rounds, middleweight
Mike Lee, 174 lb vs. Paul Harness, 173.25 lb - 6 rounds, light heavyweight
John Jackson, 152 lb vs Willie Nelson, 153.25 lb - 10 rounds, super welterweight
Wale Omotoso, 147.5 lb vs Daniel Sostre, 145 lb - 8 rounds, welterweight
Michael Medina vs. James Winchester - 8 rounds, super welterweight