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Middleweight Sergio Martinez (50-2-2, 28 KOs) almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in his fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-1-1, 32 KOs) at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas September 15.
Martinez produced a sensational performance over 11 rounds to out-move, out-box and out-maneuver Chavez Jr., who enjoyed a sizeable weight advantage from rehydrating after the Friday weigh-in.
However, Martinez, 37, exhibited speed that belied his years and used it to pummel his opponent mercilesssly. Chavez Jr. just couldn't get his punches off and Martinez peppered him with shots almost at will. The fight continued in this vein until the final round when Chavez Jr. pegged Martinez with a left hook that put him on the canvas.
Rather that hold on for dear life, Martinez fought Chavez Jr. toe-to-toe for the remainder of the stanza and somehow hung on for victory. The judges scored the fight 117-110, 118-109, 118-109 in favor of Martinez, who now reclaims the WBC middleweight belt.
Chavez Jr.'s swollen and battered face told the story of the punishment he shipped during the fight. Martinez, who was cut and bloodied, reportedly broke his left arm in the fourth round and injured his right knee when he was knocked down, according to ESPN.
Despite the one-sided nature of the fight until the last round, Chavez Jr.'s late rally has raised enough "what-ifs" that both men seemed open to the possibility of a rematch in the post-fight interviews. And why not? The fight broke the record attendance at the Thomas & Mack Center and boxing fans were treated to an epic finish.
"Boxing deserves a rematch. My philosophy is when you have lightning in a bottle, don't let it go. A rematch probably sells out Cowboys Stadium," Martinez' promoter, Lou DiBella told the LA Times.
Check out the dramatic final round here: