IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston weighs up Saturday night’s clash between four-weight champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez and the heavy-handed Julio Cesar Martinez in San Diego.
It’s aways something. Julio Cesar Martinez, although moving up from flyweight, somehow managed to come in at 116.4lbs for his San Diego fight with Chocolatito Gonzalez, a 12-rounder for the WBC Diamond championship in the 115-pound division.
How could the fighter moving up come in overweight? Well, it happened, tonight’s bout is still on, and bettors have the usual quandary when a boxer misses weight.
Has Martinez not been showing due diligence when it comes to dedication and lifestyle? Or has he simply outgrown the 112lbs division?
Martinez took the fight as a substitute for Juan Francisco Estrada, who tested positive for Covid-19. My guess is that Martinez was on the heavy side when he started training and decided not to deplete himself by draining right down to the 115lbs limit.
I thought Martinez looked happy and healthy at the weigh-in. I’m assuming that he is indeed in fighting shape and ready for 12 rounds with the future Hall of Famer.
Chocolatito (like Canelo Alvarez, his moniker is used on the fight posters, not last name or given name) is the favourite, as one would expect, with an industry-wide price of 4/6. Martinez is available at a general price of 6/5.
It’s difficult to pick against Chocolatito. If Alexis Arguello is Nicaragua’s greatest fighter, Chocolatito can’t be far behind. He’s a four-weight world champion and he didn’t seem to have lost a step when battling Juan Francisco Estrada right down to the wire in their rematch last March.
Chocolatito’s fourth-round KO defeat against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai four years ago now seems something of a mirage. However, Chocolatito is really getting up there in age for a fighter in the lighter weight divisions. He turns 35 in four months and he’s been boxing professionally for 17 years.
Martinez doesn’t have anything like Chocolatito’s experience, of course. Nevertheless, I quite like Martinez’ chances. He’s not a kid. At 27 years of age, Martinez is a mature fighter. He has the pressure-fighting style, the body punching and the left hooks that one associates with the leading Mexican fighters.
San Diego is just a short drive from Tijuana and has a large Mexican-heritage population, so the bulk of the crowd is likely to be cheering for Martinez, although there will be support for Chocolatito, who is much-loved by fans pretty much everywhere.
And it’s easy to see why Chocolatito is held in high esteem. As a person he always comes across as modest and even humble, and as a fighter he’s exciting to watch with his combination of skill, power, educated aggression and fluid punch-variety.
He is clearly still a formidable fighter even as he approaches his mid-30s.
But, in Martinez, he is facing a little buzzsaw. Martinez is a fierce puncher and he’s relentless. In his last fight, Martinez was on his way to stopping McWilliams Arroyo when the fight ended on a head clash in the second round. I think if the fight had gone another round or two, Martinez would have got Arroyo out of there.
Now Martinez faces by far his biggest test. I think he’s ready for it.
If you like the idea of an upset, the odds on Martinez unfortunately aren’t very generous. However, it could be worth considering the Martinez KO/TKO proposition – available with a Boxing Social boost on Betfred at 4/1 . It’s always possible that Chocolatito will, as the saying goes, grow old overnight.
For those who think that Martinez is simply stepping up a level too far, Chocolatito by KO/TKO at 12/5 might be an attractive bet.
It’s basically even-money odds on whether or not the fight goes the distance. And it really is a coin flip on the “distance — yes” and “distance — no” propositions.
Martinez missing weight complicates things because we have to guess whether or not he is in optimum condition. But when the match was announced my first thoughts were that this was a fight that Martinez could win and I’m sticking with this opinion. In a fight where a case can be made for either man, I’m siding with youth over experience.
Main image: Chocolatito (left) and Martinez (right) clash tonight. Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom USA.