LAS VEGAS — Argentina’s Sergio Martinez survived a torrid final round to defeat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and claim the WBC middleweight title in Las Vegas Saturday.
A series of Chavez left hands early in the final round knocked Martinez down, and had him badly hurt but the challenger returned fire and hung on to reach the final bell in a fight that, until the knockdown, he had been dominating.
“Julio fought a great fight,” Martinez said. “He showed he had heart right until the end.”
Until the final round, the 37-year-old Martinez, 50-2-2 (28 KOs), was far too fast and skillful for Chavez, 46-1-1 (32 KOs).
He bloodied his opponents’ nose and closed his left eye with southpaw right jabs and straight left hands, and progressively weakened him with left hands to the body.
For his part, Chavez seemed intent on attempting to pin the smaller Martinez in a corner or against the ropes and dig to the body with hooks and uppercuts.
But each time it appeared he might be starting to turn the momentum in his favor, Martinez would respond, repeatedly succeeding in spinning away or returning fire.
“I was 20 seconds away from knocking him out,” Chavez said. “I started way too late. Going into the fight, I thought I was going to be able to do all night what I did in that final round.
“A rematch is justified.”
Hernandez sees off Ross
In Germany, Cuba’s world champion cruiserweight Yoan Pablo Hernandez has defended his IBF belt with a unanimous points victory over Canada’s Troy Ross in northern Bavaria.
The 27-year-old Hernandez, who was born in Cuba but now lives in Halle, eastern Germany, was awarded Saturday night’s fight 114-113, 115-112, 116-112 by the three judges against his challenger Ross, who is 10 years his senior.
Ross, also a southpaw, was dominating the close exchanges and Hernandez was unable to trouble the smaller man from distance.
Ross himself was wobbling in the ninth, when Hernandez caught the 37-year-old with a heavy left blow but appeared too exhausted to finish him off after a flurry of punches.
“I pretty much pumped the floor with him today,” Ross said. “I know I won the fight because I put all my hard work into it. I’m too strong, too fast. I’m just a better boxer today ... it’s a bad decision.”
It was the third defeat of Ross’s career, but the Guyana-born southpaw put Hernandez on the canvas in the fifth round, while the champion produced a ninth-round combination and Ross was only saved from a knock-out by the bell.
“Respect for Troy Ross. He’s a good boxer and a great fighter. I knew that he had a strong punch,” Hernandez said as the crowd kept whistling.
Alvarez stops Lopez
In Las Vegas, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez stopped Josesito Lopez late in the fifth round also Saturday night, defending his WBC super welterweight title with a relentless display of power by the 22-year-old Mexican champion.
Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs) ended Lopez’s dreams of a second upset victory this year by knocking down his 12-to-1 underdog opponent in the second, third and fourth rounds.
Another series of relentless combinations finally forced referee Joe Cortez to step in, sending Alvarez to his 37th consecutive victory.
On the undercard, IBF bantamweight champ Leo Santa Cruz retained his title by stopping two-time world champion Eric Morel in the fifth round.
Daniel Ponce De Leon also claimed the WBC featherweight belt by taking a unanimous decision from former champ Jhonny Gonzalez.
Marcos Maidana also stopped Jesus Soto Karass early in the eighth round to win their welterweight bout. — Agencies