TQBR Roundtable: Sergio Martinez Vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr./Saul Alvarez Vs. Josesito Lopez Edition

Seems like it has been ages, but it’s big fight time once again. Like we do for all the biggest bouts, the TQBR staff writers sat down to nut out our thoughts on the weekend’s boxing and pugilistic politics. The roundtable is virtual, since we’re in different corners of the globe, but the talk is real. REAL TALK.

(How much longer will Sergio Martinez wear the middleweight crown?)


Which of the two major cards will you be watching on Saturday night and why? Will the undercards of the two events have a bearing on your decision?


Patrick Connor: I will be covering the Saul Alvarez vs. Josesito Lopez card live from Las Vegas, so I’ll have to hear about the Martinez vs. JCC, Jr. fight later on after work is done. However, as Jhonny Gonzalez is one of my favorite active fighters and he’s stepping in against a legitimate badass in Daniel Ponce De Leon, I’m excited to cover the card. Overall, I believe the Showtime card is significantly stronger and has a better chance of delivering entertaining bouts. However, if I weren’t covering the card, I probably would’ve tried to figure out a way to watch the Showtime undercard and tune in for Martinez vs. JCC Jr.

Karl Greenberg: Martinez versus Chavez, Jr. What’s the other fight? Seriously, Golden Boy are going to be kicking themselves in the shin after Saturday night. Undercards actually don’t have a bearing here. This is a great main event because Chavez (and God knows I can’t bear to look at him; he looks like an absolute cutout of a spoiled, sadistic, snide middle-school kid if I ever saw one) may have a chance here, but only if Martinez, has slipped. And Martinez is a lot older, obviously. I just think this is a classic example of a fight about personalities as much as anything. And that will make it a big draw by itself. We haven’t had one of those in a while, not counting Amir Khan-Danny Garcia, since that was more about Garcia’s father.

Andrew Harrison: Neither (wha wha whaaaaa). Chavez, Jr. vs Martinez has only been made available to cable viewers in the U.K. who are prepared to fork out an additional pay-per-view charge (on top of their monthly subscription fee) to the tune of £14.95 (around 25 bucks) IN A RECESSION! I can’t confirm this as the recession seems to have robbed Primetime (the PPV channel in question) of an Internet presence. Chavez is very definitely an American thing — over here, no-one knows about him (and even less care). People have heard of Martinez after he put a tanning on both Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin but even then, interest is remote. BoxNation are showing the Richie Cunningham fight but then that’s a separate subscription fee altogether. IN A RECESSION! And I’m not keen on the way he’s been matched (he a bully).

Alex McClintock: I’m going to be watching Martinez-Chavez. There’s just no question. Like Mr. Harrison in the U.K., there are some financial obstacles here in Australia to my boxing viewing pleasure. I plan to circumvent them, however, by going to a bar to watch the fight and spending my hard earned cash on beer instead. I’d dearly like to catch Jhonny Gonzalez-Daniel Ponce De Leon as well, but sadly it ain’t gonna happen.

Mark Ortega: I will be in Las Vegas and in attendance at Chavez-Martinez. It is the stronger main event by a landslide and perhaps the best fight that will take place in 2012. And this is from a guy who loves Josesito Lopez as much as any. Being there for the Victor Ortiz fight, it is really difficult to pick against him, but I’ve been wanting to see Sergio teach this spoiled brat a lesson for close to two years. That the fight has evolved into one where I am questioning if that happens or not is a good thing. Score one, and only one, for boxing politics slowing this fight down and letting it marinate. Lord knows that Chavez, Jr. needed it.

Tim Starks: I’ll be at a wedding in a far off land, so I’ll be catching it all after the fact, but I’ll watch Martinez-Chavez first off my DVR when I return, then Jhonny Gonzalez-Daniel Ponce De Leon, which is an absolute shoot-out. Or I expect I’ll know the results by then, and will just watch everything after Martinez-Chavez in the order of the awesomeness I’d heard about. Were I watching them live, I think I’d have to prioritize Martinez-Chavez above everything, but the Showtime card is the better top-to-bottom card. The way I look at it is, on an informal points system, Martinez-Chavez is worth 10 points, compared to the 3 points of Alvarez-Lopez, and 4 points for Jhonny-Ponce, and everything from there drops off a bit. It all probably evens out. And btw, I’m warming to Alvarez-Lopez, hearing that Lopez has outweighed Alvarez in the various pre-fight weigh-ins… although, of course, THAT’S WHAT THEY WANT US TO THINK.

What chance do you give JCC Jr. of springing the upset over Sergio Martinez? What makes you think Junior has a better chance today than a year ago?

Patrick Connor: I give Chavez a good chance at upsetting Martinez for a few reasons: size, style and popularity. He should hold a clear size advantage over Martinez when both enter the ring, his style is generally a more crowd-pleasing one than Martinez’, and fans in the Thomas and Mack Arena should be much more vocal for him over Martinez. Ever since the fight was announced, I’ve felt that Chavez would take a close, controversial decision. His chin is very good, he’ll likely be coming forward for most of the bout, and judges should be more apt to score close rounds for him based on his style. All things being equal and fair, Martinez is rightfully favored to win.

Karl Greenberg: I hope not. I would cherish, fondly, and for years to come, the memory of Sergio removing that curl from Junior’s churlish upper lip. You know, I don’t know if he has a better chance today if you discount the fact that Martinez is a year older.

Andrew Harrison: Fat and slim, despite the fact that the rule makers’ lax handle on, well, absolutely anything at all, allows the Mexican to take part in a middleweight contest while entering the ring as a cruiserweight. I haven’t seen a lot of Chavez, so my opinion’s worth less than the rest of TQBR squad; I washed my hands of him years ago after witnessing him go through the motions against the likes of Matt Vanda. He just wasn’t a good fighter, not then, not ever. And so the talent differential in my head looks like Joe Calzaghe and Peter Manfredo. Sergio should absolutely batter him; however, in today’s crazy, ramshackle version of the sport, who the hell knows? Chavez could lose every round and still win or suddenly develop super powers like his gym mates. Others are imagining Joey Maxim versus Mr. Robinson but for the life of me, I can’t understand why.

Alex McClintock: Yeah, I give Chavez a chance and a better one than a year ago.  Considering how terrible he once was, the Mexican’s victories over Sebastian Zbik and Andy Lee were impressive. But they don’t add up to him being Martinez’s equal. Chavez is so very hittable and Martinez hits so very hard. That’s not a good combination, even for a guy with a beard like Junior’s. I see Martinez stopping him in the late rounds.

Mark Ortega: A year ago I give Chavez a 5 percent chance to win. Today, I’d say it is closer to 33%. Martinez has noticeably declined, but at the same time it could just be a case of Martinez fighting down to his level of competition. The Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams wins weren’t that long ago, or were they? It must be noted that Martinez struggled in the middle rounds with Pavlik before he cut him badly, otherwise a very different fight could have played out in the final rounds. If Chavez can hang with Sergio early, it could be a terrific fight down the stretch, one for the ages. I haven’t been this excited for an impending matchup since Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito. Let us just hope this one doesn’t carry any of the controversy that one did.

Tim Starks: I do give him a chance, and a much better one than a year ago. I wrote about that here.

How worried are you about Top Rank and Golden Boy going head to head like this? Do you see it becoming a pattern?

Patrick Connor: It seems the pattern has already been established and the two are at odds regardless. I don’t like it and I believe it’s essentially a slap to the face of fans who simply would like to watch more boxing, but if it apparently has to happen, at least a handful of the fights are solid. It’s better than half-assedly putting a card together that can’t possibly compete with the other one. In terms of worry, I don’t think it’s anything boxing can’t easily survive.

Karl Greenberg: After this fight? I’m hoping someone will be chastened enough to rethink that strategy. I’m wondering when this kind of ratings war of attrition will reduce the audiences enough to make them rethink. I’m thinking GBP will have a hangover Sunday morning.

Andrew Harrison: Meh. Hopefully they’ll both end up losing revenue. And if it continues, then one of them may go under. IT IS A RECESSION AFTER ALL!

Alex McClintock: It’d be good if Golden Boy got burned here, but I’m not sure they will. If we’re talking about a “predicted” PPV audience of 400,000 for Martinez-Chavez, there’ll still be an awful lot of boxing fans with nothing to do on Saturday night. Perhaps both shows will do well, people will cry “boxing ain’t dead” and we’ll see more of this tomfoolery in the future.

Mark Ortega: It looked like it was becoming a pattern for a minute there, didn’t it? Luckily Golden Boy has backed off a bit. When Golden Boy takes a bath on this one, I think we will see less of these happenings. Top Rank will be happy with their victory and Golden Boy could be humiliated by the defeat. It just isn’t good for boxing to quarter and halve its audience.

Tim Starks: I’d seen some optimistic spin somewhere that this was all a good thing, that competition and duelling cards from Top Rank and Golden Boy makes both products better and gives consumers choices. That’s a more optimistic take than I can muster. Sure, in the age of DVRs, everyone can be happy, but it’s a well-established fact that not everyone has a DVR. That means a big rating for Showtime or a big pay-per-view buy rate for either show were it not competing with anyone else is diminished, and that means everyone makes less money, and from there it’s a short line to smaller boxing budgets, lower boxer pay, fewer people entering the sport, fewer quality fighters for us to enjoy, and so on and so on. Choice benefits consumers in the short-term. Show me how that benefits the consumer in the long-term. And it’s not the only time it’s happened in the recent past or going to happen in the near future, as Golden Boy’s discussion about what it’ll do on Nov. 10 shows. These two companies are trying to strangle the other for no reason other than the sake of it.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.