Twenty second away from knocking out Sergio Martinez. That was what Julio Cesar Chavez was missing to remain undefeated and overturn a fight in which the older Argentinian battered him for nearly 11 rounds. Eventually, the Ring champion managed to make it through, just barely, to claim the WBC middleweight title belt.

The scorecards showed how much of a not close call this fight really was – 118-1109, 118-109, 117-110. The 37 year old, winning his 50th career fight, dominated the fight with his speed, movement and accuracy for 8 rounds. The punch stats showed he connected with 322 of his 908 punches, while Chavez landed only 178 of 390. Over 140 of Martinez’ punches were his his right jab, followed by a left to the body or the head.

Every time it seemed that Chavez was able to finally find a way through the Southpaw stance and connected with a good right hand, Martinez countered with a quick flurry to keep the big man away from him. Chavez was bleeding from his nose while his face looked all banged up before he suddenly released a huge left hook to drop Martinez for the first time in the 12th round.

Martinez got up and took a few more hits to the head, hitting the canvas once again, only to get up once more. Chavez hounded him across the ring, but it was too little, too late. Immediately the ending was compared to his father’s 1990 win over Meldrick Taylor, which resulted in a very controversial knockout in Chavez’ favor.

I was 20 seconds away from knocking him out. I started way too late. I didn’t really get started until the eighth round. I just started way too late. I thought I could do the whole fight what I did the last round.

After 10 rounds, his trainer Freddie Roach (Really piling up losses recently) wanted to end the fight. Chavez, always proud of his ability to take punches, was too often a standing target for Martinez to practice on. Strong chin and body? Defenitely proven, but Chavez was doing nothing to show he was even trying to win the fight.

The speed was the difference. I told him to go out and exchange with him every round. I knew Martinez was good. I just didn’t know how good. Chavez can do better. This was a good lesson for him. He needed to let his hands go sooner. I told him in the 10th round, he better start fighting or I was going to stop it.

For Martinez, this was about proving a point and about making money, earning the biggest payday of his career, $1.4 million before the PPV money comes in. Chavez earned $3 million pre-PPV.

Chavez fought a great fight and he was a lot tougher than I expected. He showed a great, great heart. The knockdown was a mistake. Julio took advantage and he dropped me. It is great for boxing to have a champion like me willing to fight anyone.

Rematch? Why not. Chavez got taught a huge lesson about fighting from one of the best in the world, who sees everything coming together for him late in his career. Martinez already semi-offered him one, and Chavez, with the knowledge of how to handle Martinez seeming a bit more understandable, might bite on the chance to get back his title and show he’s more than target practice with a late start.

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