LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 15: Sergio Martinez celebrates after defeating Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. by unanimous decision after their WBC middleweight title fight at the Thomas & Mack Center on September 15, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
For eleven rounds, Sergio Martinez was completely outclassing Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in their battle for Chavez's WBC middleweight title. The speed advantage that Martinez had was the story of the fight, and he danced around and landed a ton of punches on a frustrated Chavez. Chavez was beaten and bloodied, and his corner was considering stopping the fight.
Then the twelfth round nearly changed everything.
After a relatively tame start to the round, Chavez finally caught Martinez with a solid right that wobbled him against the ropes. Two more put him on the mat. Martinez got up, and instead of trying to ride out the round by clinching or running, he went straight back at Chavez. He went down again, but it was ruled a slip. Chavez landed all kinds of huge, damaging shots over the last 40 seconds as the awesome crowd went absolutely bonkers, while Martinez fired back with his own offense. Martinez was badly hurt but managed to get to the final bell and took the decision. The scores were 117-110, and two 118-109's.
After months of talking between the two men, Martinez delivered with an absolutely beautiful fight that proved he is the best middleweight in the world. He also showed the he's got heart for days and didn't run away when the wheels unexpectedly came off late. He stood there and fought like a man, and it was amazing to watch. Chavez didn't really look like he belonged in the ring with Sergio for most of the fight, but his flurry in the last round should earn him a large measure of respect from boxing fans. Basically, those two minutes might have cemented Chavez's status as a real fighter and not just a cash cow carefully built up by promoters. In the end though, it's nice to see the WBC middleweight title back where it belongs - around Maravilla's waist.
The two men will probably end up rematching, since Martinez can make the most money from that bout. It might not be something that everyone wants to see (I'd personally rather see Martinez take on Andre Ward at 168 if possible), but Chavez probably earned it with the near-finish.
Overall it was an excellent night for boxing. The undercard of this event along with the Showtime card delivered, and both main events were good fights (for very different reasons). Both events drew strong crowds and gates, and proved that there's a lot more to the sport than just Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fights. If you missed out, you really should go and try to find a way to watch both cards. It'll be worth your time.