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Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Sergio Martinez take different tacks

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has trained unconventionally for his fight Saturday with Sergio Martinez, who has trained with a dose of anger.

September 14, 2012|By Lance Pugmire
  • Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., left, and Sergio Martinez have a few words during their weigh-in Friday at the Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., left, and Sergio Martinez have a few words during… (John Locher / Associated…)

LAS VEGAS -- Someone's confidence is either misguided, or Saturday's Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Sergio Martinez fight will be a boxing match for the ages.

World Boxing Council middleweight champion Chavez, 26, could walk into the Thomas & Mack Center ring with as great as a 20-pound advantage.

That brawn and an unconventional training method that has led him to skip sparring sessions altogether and launch other workouts between 1 and 5 a.m. emboldens Chavez.

"I'm crazy. I'm a boxer. What do you want from me?" Chavez (46-0-1, 32 knockouts) said this week before weighing in at 158 pounds to Martinez's 159.

A slight 2-to-1 favorite at Las Vegas sports books, the 37-year-old Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs) has vowed to make his foe pay for disrespecting the sport with a fast, wise performance like those that made him the 2010 fighter of the year.

"I will punish him for a lot of time and then knock him out," Martinez said. "This will be a lot of pain."

Martinez is fueled by his resentment of the Mexico-based WBC effectively stripping him of his belt in 2011, elevating him to "emeritus champion" and opening a process in which the son of a great Mexican champion ultimately claimed the belt that year by defeating Sebastian Zbik at Staples Center.

By participating in what Martinez believes was a title-robbing fraud on top of earning lucrative pay-per-view payoffs based on his father's legacy, the Argentine has burned to expose his opponent.

"I've never seen him this angry," Martinez promoter Lou DiBella said.

Chavez's Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach and his father dismiss Martinez's criticisms.

"He's very prepared," Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. said. "He's very conscious of what he needs to do to win. He's spent a lot of time on strategy, watching videos every day, and I give him advice."

Roach has not stuck to the routine of keeping Chavez Jr. at Hollywood's Wild Card Boxing Club, leading the fighter through an unpredictable camp in Las Vegas. Multiple days have gone by without Chavez appearing at his promoter's gym for sparring, those close to the fighter say.

"Once he starts, it's been nonstop for three hours," Roach said. "I've seen his confidence, and I asked Julio, 'Are you scared or confident?' He feels he's going to be in this guy's face and beat him up. I can tell you he's hitting harder than ever."

Bruce Trampler, the matchmaker who signed off on Chavez meeting Martinez, said Roach has joked that, "If Julio beats Sergio, I'm going to put out a new training video that shows Julio sleeping, me sleeping and no one in the gym."

"But when Julio blows off the gym, it doesn't mean he blows off the workout," Trampler said. "He's on top of this fight every day. He's got Sergio on his mind. It's just a different type of fight that he believes needs a different type of preparation.

"Julio's worked on things, like cutting off the ring, fighting his own fight with pressure, taking away Sergio's left-handedness. He speaks very intelligently about his plan. He's so up for this."

In defending his belt against southpaw Andy Lee in June, Chavez "experimented, tested and probed" for tactics, Trampler said, that could help him beat Martinez before unloading heavy punches that produced a seventh-round technical knockout.

"There were a couple of clocks running in making this fight, and one is Julio wants to be the best," Trampler said. "He's done his pre-graduate work, and now this is what he wants to do.

"I couldn't in good conscience be an impediment to that. He's shown me he has the skills to win, and a lot of it is hard to articulate, because it's the intangibles I see in him — like when a baseball executive goes down to triple A to see a kid play and just says, 'He's ready.'

"This kid's ready."

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

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