With a legend sitting ringside, signature red head-band accenting his tuxedo, his son kept alive his hopes of adding another to the family.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the son of Mexico’s famed Julio Sr., and a boxer entering his 44th fight with questions remaining about his heart and desire, answered many of those Saturday night at Staples Center.
Chavez Jr. (43-0-1) won a slugfest and his first title, the World Boxing Council middleweight world title, beating the incumbent, Sebastian Zbik of Germany, in a majority decision.
One judge had it 114-114. The other two 115-113 and 116-112 for Chavez Jr.
There were no knockdowns. Nothing even close. The two moved to the center of the ring, came together, leaned on each other and flailed away.
At first, Zbik got the best of it, landing more punches until the seventh round, when Chavez Jr. took over. He landed an incredible 124 body punches, and by the end, Zbik had trouble just walking back to his corner after the 11th round.
In reality, Zbik had little or no chance. Not only was Chavez Jr. bigger and stronger, but he now is in superb shape, thanks to the Freddie Roach camp and conditioner Alex Ariza. Once Chavez Jr. started to land his big punches, Zbik was reduced to countering and running, and that never convinces judges of much.
Also, Zbik had somehow (read: dollar bills) been talked into defending his title in the backyard of the challenger. Zbik was booed by the estimated crowd of 12,000 before the ring announcer even got to his last name in the introductions.
Those introductions included a lengthy tribute to Chavez Sr., who fought for 25 years, won six titles and remains one of Mexico’s grandest sports heroes. Chavez Sr. won his first title about a mile to the south of Staples, at the venerable Olympic Auditorium. That was in 1984 and began a long run. While Chavez Jr. doesn’t show the same charisma and flair of dad quite yet, Saturday’s rugged performance was a step forward.
Chavez Jr. fully understands the legacy.
“My father came to the Wild Card [ Roach’s gym] two weeks ago and told me that this is where I win the fight. Not at Staples. Running and working and training here.”
The early arrivals got some excitement, especially in matches involving a couple of known fighters.
Christy Martin, trying to keep a boxing career alive at age 42 — after 21 years, 57 fights and 49 wins, as well as being stabbed and shot several times by her husband in November — may have thrown her last haymaker, but probably not.
Her husband, 66-year-old James Martin, is in jail.
Ahead on points after five rounds and having knocked down Dakota Stone, Martin connected with a huge right hand to Stone’s forehead in the fourth round and nearly doubled over in pain.
She had broken her right hand. Ringside doctor Edward Ayoub, at Martin’s pleading, allowed her to keep going for one more round. But the fight was stopped in the sixth when the referee ruled that she couldn’t defend herself.
In a match to determine something called the WBC 154-pound silver title, Glendale’s potential champion and former U.S. Olympian Vanes Martirosyan (30-0) rallied for a victory over Saul Roman of Mexico when the referee stopped the bout with two seconds left in the seventh round.