Martinez, Chavez trade barbs ahead of middleweight bout

By Kieran Mulvaney, Reuters

Posted at Sep 13 2012 09:45 AM | Updated as of Sep 13 2012 05:45 PM

Argentina's Sergio Martinez is set to fight WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. this weekend in Las Vegas with one fighter promising punishment and the other warning his opponent to prepare for retirement.

"I trained a long time dancing," Martinez said on Wednesday at the final pre-fight news conference. "That's all I need to break his face a thousand times. ... I will punish him a lot, and then I will knock him out. He will suffer a lot."

Not surprisingly, Chavez predicted a different outcome for his 37-year-old opponent when the two fighters meet Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

"I'm not only going to beat you, I'm going to retire you," Chavez said to Martinez.

The 26-year-old Mexican noted that he has watched tapes of his Martinez, adding mockingly that, "I have seen when he was knocked out or knocked down and his eyes were white. He looked pretty good."

The genesis for the bad blood between the two fighters can be found in the highly different paths they have taken to this point in their careers.

Chavez, (46-0-1, 32 KOs), the namesake son of Mexico's most famous and celebrated fighter, turned professional when he was 17 and made his Las Vegas debut in his fifth bout.

Martinez, (49-2-2, 28 KOs), did not even visit a boxing gym until he was 20 and spent the first 10 years of his career fighting mostly in Argentina and Spain. He found success after relocating to the United States in 2007, and three years later defeated Kelly Pavlik to win the WBC middleweight championship.

However, the WBC stripped him of that belt in 2011 when he elected to fight Ukraine's Sergiy Dzinziruk instead of mandatory challenger Sebastian Zbik of Germany, and Chavez assumed the title with a decision win over Zbik.

Ever since, Martinez has been campaigning for a fight with Chavez, asserting that "the only reason he is world champion is because he is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the son of the legend and his mouth is so big - even bigger than his own brain and he's talking too much."

Chavez has responded to the taunts with insults of his own. "I am going to shut him up once and for all," he told reporters last week. "He is just a big clown."

(Reporting by Kieran Mulvaney in Washington; Editing by Frank Pingue)