Middleweight Sergio Gabriel Martinez made good on his promise to dominate WBC champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr but when it came time to put the feather in his cap by getting the knockout he vowed to produce, Martinez was nearly stopped in the final round at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV.
Martinez carried the early rounds behind his trademark elusive southpaw style, keeping Chavez Jr at arm's reach with the jab, movement and the occasional hard shot. Chavez Jr. looked to take away the older man's legs with body shots but didn't get much of an opportunity as the challenger was in constant motion.
The challenger slowed somewhat in the fourth and fifth, allowing Chavez Jr to get close enough to land a few jabs and body shots but it wasn't enough to overcome the sporadic but eye-catching work from Martinez.
Martinez unleashed his arsenal in the seventh, blistering Chavez Jr with both hands, and although the champion's face was starting to show the punishment he'd been absorbing, he wasn't hurt and even came back in the eighth when Martinez began to tire.
Chavez tried to take advantage of the fact that Martinez offensively took off the ninth but the young Mexican simply couldn't track down the fleet-footed Argentine.
Martinez picked up the pace in the tenth behind a masterful jab and went hunting bigger game in the eleventh, slipping in power shot combinations as Chavez tried to corner the challenger.
Looking for a shot to close the show in the twelfth and final round, Martinez was caught instead by a flush left hook and dropped to the canvas. He beat the count and traded punches with Chavez Jr, who was doing his best to finish off his antagonist in what had become a very thrilling fight.
Martinez was downed again before beating the count and resuming his trench warfare with the champion before the bell rang to bring an end to the round of the year.
Despite the last minute heroics, Chavez Jr was dethroned on scores of 118-109, 118-109 and 117-110, suffering his first loss and falling to 46-1-1 (32).
Recapturing the WBC title he never lost in the ring, Martinez climbs to 50-2-2 (28), while promising Chavez Jr a rematch.
The support bouts on the bill featured WBA super bantam champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, 11-0 (8), defend his title via a 118-108, 118-108 and 118-109 unanimous decision victory over challenger Robert Marroquin, 21-2 (15).
Former Cuban two-time Olympic Gold Medallist was only seriously hit once by Marroquin while comprehensively outboxing the challenger and producing two knockdowns.
Ex-champion Rocky Martinez, 26-1-1 (16), regained his WBO super bantam title with a difficult split decision verdict over Miguel Beltran Jr, 27-2 (17). Martinez was hurt several times in the bout, winning two of the cards 114-113 while Beltran Jr won the third 116-111.
Former WBA title challenger Matthew Macklin, 29-4 (20), won an important middleweight bout by rubbing out ex-WBA light middle title holder Joachim Alcine, 33-3-1 (19), in just one round.