Alright guys, this weekend's clash between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Andy Lee has come and gone with high praise for Junior after an impressive showing, and praise for Lee as well for hanging in there for as long as he did. Andy Lee is a good fighter and despite having hall of fame trainer Emanuel Steward in his corner, just couldn't deny the oncoming storm in Chavez Jr. who seem to eat every punch from the Irishman and literally dance in response, as if to say "Those pillow punches don't cut it, give me some more"
Now we're headed for a clash between WBC champ Chavez Jr., and RING, Lineal champion Sergio Martinez. So my question is simple: Who has more to gain in taking this fight?
On the surface it might breakdown as a 50/50 answer. Some might say without question it's Junior because of where his career was before well, not just before the Andy Lee fight but before the Rubio fight folks were constantly looking for reasons to hate on Julio despite his progression. It reminded me of Lebron James and how for every ten things he did right his detractors (ie Skip Bayless) would focus like a laser beam on the two things his did wrong, even if those two things had little if any impact on the game. Like Lebron, Junior's doubters try to ignore his success because their hatred and skepticism is based on a blind bias.
They say well Chavez Jr. has to prove that he can hang with the real middleweights in the world. Well, that's a good argument to make especially if you compare opponents. Junior has faced the likes of Sebastian Zbik, Marco Antonio Rubio, Peter Manfredo Jr., and of course Andy Lee. Now, the Zbik fight was a gift if I've ever seen one and to say Junior won that fight is to have complete and utter contempt for eyesight.
Sergio on the other hand started off taking on some of the best at 154 and 160. He lifted the world middleweight championship from Kelly Pavlik, winning the WBO, WBC, and RING titles in a thrilling masterpiece against the Youngstown, Ohio native. Boxing fans will never forget the two classic fights with Paul Williams. Their first fight was controversial as many believe Sergio should have gotten the nod. They met once again and this time Maravilla silenced any doubt by silencing the Punisher with a sneaky left that sent Paul crashing to the canvas.
My take is that Sergio has more to gain from this fight because of who he has faced recently. For all the Peter Manfredo Jr., Marco Antonio Rubio, and Andy Lee's of the world, Sergio Martinez's most recent opponents range from Sergiy Dzinziruk to Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin; all worthy fighters in their own right, but not exactly the top names in either the 154 pound or 160 pound division. It's Martinez, the 37 year old who will be fighting for his legacy, that definition fans and boxing scribes will use to describe him years from now. He's on the border of being in or out of the hall of fame, had he retired or lost before this fight was made then no question he's not a hall of famer; but if he wins this fight he'll have gained a lot more than just the WBC version of the middleweight crown, or the biggest payday of his career.
Chavez Jr. in losing, if he loses might embolden his doubters to say "See we told you he was a fraud" but at 26, and because of his last name (like it or not) his career as a top earner and a star will mend. Besides there would be no shame in losing to the guy seen as the consensus number one middleweight in the world. A mere learning curve would be the appropriate label to give a potential Chavez Jr. loss to Sergio Martinez. But if Sergio loses there will be far more questions about him as a fighter given his place in the sport. The #3 best pound for pound fighter in the world (#4 on my list behind Juan Manuel Marquez at #3 and Andre Ward at #2, Mayweather I have at #1), and the lineal middleweight champion.
So who do you guys think has more to gain? I say Sergio because of money, notoriety, and legacy.
Question to consider:
Is the momentum gained from the Andy Lee stoppage enough that it will carry over into the fight with Sergio Martinez?
Will the new found hunger of Chavez Jr. somehow derail 37 year old Martinez who despite being 37 was sort of a late bloomer? What factors apply?