Last night two significant bouts broke the spell of unremarkable boxing that has plagued the sport for the past few weeks. First, in Germany, Robert Stieglitz set out to settle a score in his third and final bout with Arthur Abraham. Abraham looked strong and seemed to be positioning himself better throughout the fight than he had in their previous encounters. Stieglitz managed several good combinations that were effective enough to get through Abraham’s guard but had to move backward for most of the fight. In the end, Abraham was too defensively sound and too active for Stieglitz, winning on points and regaining his belt.
In the night’s big American rematch, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. took on Brian Vera to redeem himself from the lackluster performance from their first fight in which Vera was successful throughout the fight and even handed Chavez an unprecedented knockdown. As usual, Chavez started slow and allowed Vera to land some impressive combinations, but as his momentum started to build, Chavez began unleashing powerful body attacks that drained Vera’s energy. Showing uncharacteristic focus, Chavez pursued Vera consistently past the second round and broke down his pressure attack. To his credit, Vera was tenacious is delivering that pressure even after the referee deducted a point for leaning without first warning him. Vera’s relentless determination did him credit early, but by the end of the fight he had paid very little attention to his opponent’s body and his own had been beaten so consistently that his legs began to look weak. Though it was clear that Chavez had the power and size advantage, his shots rarely stumbled Vera, and the ones that did stumble the immovable object were often brutal overhand rights that Chavez may have perfected for fighting smaller opponents at super middleweight. Chavez won on points but Vera wasn’t far behind and the performance provides more insight into the longevity of both the fighters. Vera may be nearing his end as a gatekeeper, and Chavez will still encounter challenges with sturdier, more technical opponents as he tries to ascend the ranks.
The most exciting announcement of the week was a great middleweight fight between two aging legends, Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez. An unusual choice for contract weight, pushing up toward the middleweight limit, will probably benefit Martinez more than Cotto, but at this point in their careers, both fighters are looking for a legacy fight that will maximize their earning potential. This match will certainly secure the fighters’ already impressive legacies and could even pique interest in a fight with Mayweather, for the winner.