This Saturday night from the sold-out Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Sergio Martinez will face Julio Cesar Chavez Jr on HBO pay-per-view, in what is the biggest and most important fight of his career.
But will he be facing his best opponent? That's certainly a lot more debatable. Two fights with Paul Williams probably take that distinction, and even Martinez's recent run of fights against Sergiy Dzinziruk, Matthew Macklin, and Darren Barker are at least right on par, on paper, with the Chavez Jr fight purely from a boxing standpoint.
Then there's Martinez's 2010 fight with Kelly Pavlik. At the time, Pavlik was the middleweight world champion, and Martinez had gotten the slot against him on HBO despite his tight loss to Williams a few months prior. Most still figured Pavlik, who had yet to lose at middleweight, would be too big and strong for Martinez, though Sergio definitely figured to give the Youngstown native some stylistic difficulties.
It was a fight of runs: Martinez started hot, Pavlik got himself going in the middle rounds, and then Sergio showed his true quality by taking over in the final third of the bout, sealing his rise to the championship level.
The full fight from April 17, 2010, is after the jump.