In the aftermath of his
first professional loss in 31 bouts, the now-former WBC middleweight champion,
Sebastian Zbik, walked into the Chick Hearn Press Room at the Staples Center
and immediately addressed the young man to his left that had just taken the green
belt from him by the scores of 114-114, 115-113 and 116-112.
He turned to Julio Cesar
Chavez Jr. and said, "I want to ask Julio if he's happy with the fight. So
if he's happy with the belt, now, what does he think about the fight? Because
in my opinion, I came here as the world champion but I made the fight. I hit
him often; I threw more punches. I did the fight, so I can't understand why I
lost it." Later on, Zbik lamented, "I think it was an interesting, good
fight for all the people but I'm sad that I lost my title that way."
After Zbik built an early
lead by utilizing quick combinations that peppered the head of the young
Mexican challenger, Chavez Jr. eventually rallied down the stretch (taking the
last three rounds on the scorecards of Raul Caiz Jr., Steve Morrow and John
Keane), using a persistent body attack that would have made his legendary
But was it enough to win the
Did Zbik, who fought as
aggressively as he ever has, knowing that he was boxing on Chavez's home
canvas, fall prey to the same fate as another German seven years ago? You all remember
what happened to Felix Sturm, who proved to be anything but a tune-up or just
another guy with a paper belt (in this case, the WBO middleweight title) when imported
to Las Vegas to serve as the foil to one Oscar De La Hoya in June of 2004, only
to conclusively outfight and outbox the “Golden Boy” over 12 rounds. Sturm
ultimately became the victim of a scorecard that seemed predetermined and
preordained as De La Hoya had already accepted the assignment of facing Bernard
Hopkins a few months later.
"Of course we knew the
situation before and we know that if the fight is close, that we will lose the
fight," said a frustrated and bewildered Zbik, who still couldn't grasp
the verdict, "but this fight, in my opinion, it wasn't close. I threw more
punches and I did the fight. I was always moving forward and at the end, I
don't feel like a loser tonight. I'm proud and I'm happy with the fight but I'm
not very happy that I lost my title."
Bob Arum, who promotes
Chavez, pointed out that the HBO crew had Chavez winning the bout. Their “unofficial
official” Harold Lederman had him up by the score of 116-112. The veteran
promoter also pointed out that the widest scorecard came from an Englishman, in
this case, Keane, who had Chavez winning by the same score of Lederman (prompting
someone to crack, "Yeah, as if an Englishman wouldn't have anything against
a German."). However, the deck was stacked against Zbik from the start;
not only was he performing in America for the first time, he was an unknown
foreign fighter facing the son of a living legend. Don't believe for one nanosecond
that WBC dictator Jose Sulaiman didn't want another Chavez holding one of his
And when Chavez Sr. was
introduced to the crowd while standing beside his son, a week before his
induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York,
the inference was very clear- this just wasn't supposed to be Zbik's night.
This was to be the coronation of a prince.
To be fair, though, most
ringside media had the fight very close. They seemed to be split in three
factions; some had Zbik winning by a couple of points (personally, I had it
115-113 for the German), a draw, or a close Chavez Jr. victory.
When asked if a protest would
be filed on their fighter’s behalf, a representative of Universum-Box Promotion
told the gathered press, "In our opinion and in everyone [else’s] I talked
to, Sebastian did not lose the fight. As he mentioned before, he came here as a
world champion; he has thrown more punches than the challenger. He hit him more
often than the challenger, so we are all very proud of Sebastian; he made a
wonderful fight. To your question, we're very upset so I think it's best to
calm down a little bit and then we'll analyze the fight and see what we are
going to do."
In winning the WBC belt, Chavez
didn't earn the distinction of becoming the best middleweight in the world.
Even the brain trust at Top Rank acknowledges that. They know what they have
and they know his limitations. But when it was all said and done, Chavez
Jr.-Zbik ended up being a good, entertaining scrap, one that went back and forth
and had some drama to it.
"It was a difficult
fight; he was very strong, very good defensively," said Chavez Jr., still
just 25 years old. "I did my best and I think my heart, the last half of
the fight, that was the difference with this fight." He added later, "I'm
very happy to win this title; I really can't put into words my thoughts. It was
a great night for me. It's just something that I always dreamed about and I'm
just glad. I hope everyone enjoyed the fight."
What was most impressive
about Chavez was his persistence and the way he closed hard down the stretch.
For a fighter whose conditioning has been maligned, it was he that came on late
with a steady barrage of body punches that slowed down Zbik. "We came on
at the end," said his trainer Freddie Roach. "I told him he had to
back him up to win the fight. I felt we did that in the last four rounds and
there's one thing about pitty-pat punches and tapping a guy with quick
combinations and power-punching. We landed the much more effective punches all
Naturally, talk turned to
the man who is the recognized best at 160, Sergio Martinez.
"To me, he's a great
champion, one of the best out there," said Chavez Jr., who is now 43-0-1
(30). "I respect him a lot and for me, I'd be very proud of fighting him.
If that's who's next, that's who next."
Not if Arum has anything to
do with it.
"Like everything else,
what writers and media might want, it’s not often very practical," he
said, giving a familiar spiel. "Let me explain; HBO pays more money than
anybody else for a fight but that money is still limited. The only way the
fighters can really be compensated is in a pay-per-view. Sergio Martinez has
never been in a pay-per-view fight. That means the cable operators, satellite
providers don't know who the hell he is. You writers do; your media does- but
they don't know and they're not going to get behind it with advertising
dollars. [Antonio] Margarito, they know. [Miguel] Cotto, they know. So if we
put Chavez in with Cotto, Cotto has an unbelievable track record as a
pay-per-view attraction, that that fights going to sell. Same with Margarito.
"Sergio Martinez does not have that background. Now, that's not my fault;
I'm not his promoter."
When it was suggested that “Maravilla”
needed Top Rank, Arum answered that, "Sergio's promoter [Lou DiBella]
should get off his ass and build him as a pay-per-view attraction; it's really
simple. It's really simple. People say, 'Well, Top Rank only wants its fighters
to fight its other fighters.' Well, we want our fighters to fight pay-per-view
attractions and if they all come from Top Rank, that's the way it is."
Many fans and pundits will
hate hearing that from Arum. Thing is, he's being as honest as can be. He's not
giving any false pretenses that Chavez Jr. is ready for the likes of Martinez.
But the bottom line is this, as Arum builds commodities like Chavez Jr. on his
own dime (the fight this weekend was the first of his that came with a premium
cable subsidy) and while other promoters act as de facto television packagers
who don't build fan followings and showcase their fighters in faraway Indian
casinos, he simply will not risk what he has built against those who bring
nothing more than a résumé on either HBO or Showtime. He has always believed
that it was his job to protect the interest of his clients and his company. To
the chagrin of some, Arum does it incredibly well but until other entities
build their own attractions, he doesn't believe it's his obligation to give
those fighters career-high paydays, based on the value of the fighters he
Boxing is a sport, yes, but
it's just as much a business. Should he continue to be nurtured and developed, Chavez
Jr. can be big business for everyone involved, which is why Zbik was never
going to win a decision on Saturday night.
The kid isn't his father
inside the ring; then again, who is? The “Lion of Culiacan” was a once-in-several-generations
prizefighter but the younger Chavez isn't bad and he juuuust might be improving.
However, he understands the legacy and pressure that comes along with being who
"There's a lot of pressure with this name. You always have to carry that
pressure anytime you fight," Junior said, adding, "It's always been
there; it'll always be there. I won a championship and I want to continue and
defend it as many times as I can. I don't want to be a one-hit wonder."
A lot of people- me,
included- were under the impression that Martinez was in line to face the
winner of the fight this weekend and that the WBC would mandate that Chavez Jr.
face him soon, based on some of the past comments made by the Martinez camp.
To this, Arum replied, "Well,
show me the rule that says that, number one, that there is a mandatory without
having an optional defense and number two, that somebody who is not even an
interim champion or the number one contender suddenly becomes the
As you look at the WBC ratings,
Martinez is listed as the “Diamond Belt” holder, whatever that means (perhaps
he gets discounts at Zale's or something). He and his adviser, Sampson
Lewkowicz, were at the Staples Center taking in the action. Martinez told
Maxboxing, "Well, the WBC in the beginning, say that we will fight the
winner, now, we need to wait."
As for any mandatory shot,
he said, "Not at this moment."
Lewkowicz, who believes
Chavez Jr. won the fight by a score of 115-113, says that Martinez will return
on October 1st and the names under consideration are Marco Antonio
Rubio, Peter Manfredo Jr. and Darren Barker.
Featherweight Miguel “Mikey”
Garcia impressively stopped late sub Rafael Guzman in four rounds to kick off
the HBO card this weekend. He just looks like a guy getting really close to a
title shot at 126.
"The champions out
there; I don't want to disrespect anybody. They're champions for a reason. They
got the talent; they're great champions. Some of them have been former
champions in other divisions; some of them have been multiple champions in
those divisions. You got names like [Jhonny] Gonzalez, [Yuriorkis] Gamboa,
[Orlando] Salido; at the moment, Chris John, who's been reigning champion for
six, seven years, I don't even know how long. These are great champions but any
of these great champions, if they gave me the opportunity, I'll be happy to
take that opportunity," said Garcia, who ended the night with a compact
right cross that floored and dazed Guzman to a point where he toppled over as
he attempted to rise from the canvas.
"I feel that my style
can give any of these champions problems and I can beat them," said
Garcia, who ran his mark to 26-0 with 22 KOs.
His co-trainer and brother,
Robert, added, "I think with his last couple of performances, not only I
but Bob Arum [and] Cameron Dunkin are going to agree with me. We know that he's
ready. The champions are tough but to be great, you gotta beat the great
champions and I think Mikey's in position to do it. We are not rushing it. If
it takes a couple more fights, that's decided between Bob and Cameron, then we
got no problems waiting. We'll keep him active and fighting on cards like this,
HBO keeps giving us a shot.
"We could wait a couple
more fights if we have to but if the champions are there and Bob Arum is able
to work something out, we're ready to do that too."
Vanes Martirosyan, almost a
year to the day that he won on HBO versus Joe Greene (in a fight that was so
devoid of any real compelling action, the network essentially told Top Rank
that they wanted nothing to do with him) earned a shot at the WBC junior
middleweight title- which will soon be contested for between titlist Saul
Alvarez and Ryan Rhodes- by getting off the floor and halting Saul Roman in
seven exciting rounds. This is the type of victory he needed.
It wasn’t just getting the “W”
but doing it in a manner in which everyone from fans to his own promotional
team and network execs will want to see him perform again. Martirosyan didn't
disagree with that notion.
"There was a lot on me going into this fight because I knew that I would
say myself that the last fight on HBO was pretty boring for me and I should've
done a lot better than what I did and I'm just happy that I got this opportunity.
Going into this fight, I knew I had to win big and I had to win with a knockout
and that's what I did," said Martirosyan.
“The Nightmare” was visibly
bruised and marked up at the post-fight presser, so is he willing to go through
this on a regular basis?
"It felt really good in there," he claimed. "It felt like a
'Rocky' movie while I was up there. So I felt really good. Just the pain you go
through and then you get something like this, it's worth it."
Anyone else fall asleep or
get drowsy watching Yudel Jhonson on “Friday Night Fights”? I mean, even Joe
and Teddy sounded bored out of their minds...Leo Santa Cruz is quickly becoming
a young bantamweight to contend with...The bout between Dakota Stone and
Christy Martin was a slugfest. Martin, after flooring Stone, hurt her hand and
had to call it quits in the fifth round...There was no official announced
attendance for this weekend’s card at the Staples Center but I would
guesstimate that it was between 6-7,000 patrons...Hearing that Golden Boy is
really pushing hard for a bout between Marcos Maidana and Robert Guerrero and
they are willing to push it back to September to give “Chino” more time to
prepare. They'd like to stage that fight at “The Tank” in San Jose...On July 1st,
Antonio Orozco and Frankie Gomez will co-headline “Solo Boxeo” on Telefutura
from the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino...