Who Can Steal the Night on the Chavez-Martinez Undercard?

by Eric Raskin

Boxing undercards are a two-way street. They’re meant to support the main event, obviously, but the main event is also meant to support them, as underappreciated and/or underexposed fighters can use the eyeballs attracted by the featured bout to build their own names and reputations. Who will steal the spotlight on the Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. undercard? There are four bouts instead of the usual three, and no shortage of intriguing prospects and under-the-radar warriors worth keeping an eye on:

Roman “Rocky” Martinez (25-1-1, 16 KOs) vs. Miguel Beltran Jr. (27-1, 17 KOs), 12 Rounds, Junior Lightweights

Martinez is, simply put, one of the surest things in boxing from an entertainment standpoint. He hasn’t been active enough, however, since losing a close decision to Ricky Burns in a 2010 Fight of the Year candidate, fighting only once (KO 6 Daniel Attah) in the last 24 months. It’s make-or-break time for the 29-year-old Puerto Rican as he steps back up against a fellow one-loss fighter, the 23-year-old Mexican Beltran (who will no doubt have the support of the heavily Mexican crowd at Thomas & Mack). In sharp contrast to Martinez, Beltran fought four times in 2011, and his youth and activity should give him certain edges. Whoever prevails, it’s hard to envision anything short of an action-packed, dramatic punchout leading up to Martinez and Chavez entering the ring.

Matthew Macklin (28-4, 19 KOs) vs. Joachim Alcine (33-2-1, 19 KOs), 10 Rounds, Middleweights

The most recognizable name on the undercard -- particularly to anyone who’s followed Sergio Martinez’s career -- is Macklin, the Irishman who pushed “Maravilla” hard for 11 rounds in a bid for the middleweight championship six months ago. “Mack The Knife” returns to action against former 154-pound beltholder Alcine, who in his most recent fight, upset David Lemieux by majority decision.

Robert Marroquin (22-1, 15 KOs) vs. Alejandro Lopez (23-2, 7 KOs), 10 Rounds, Featherweights

The Marroquin express got derailed in April 2011 when the highly regarded prospect dropped a decision to Franky Leal, but the 23-year-old Marroquin has bounced back with a trio of victories. Lopez, best known for handing Teon Kennedy his first defeat, will provide a major step up in class from those three opponents. If Marroquin is to become the star that he was touted as prior to the shocking loss to Leal, this is a must-win bout for the Dallas featherweight.

Mike Lee (10-0, 6 KOs) vs. Paul Harness (4-3-1, 3 KOs), 6 Rounds, Light Heavyweights

Macklin isn’t the only man on this card who could be described with the words “Fighting Irish.” Lee is a 2009 graduate of Notre Dame and is best known for sharing screen time in a Subway commercial with the likes of Ryan Howard and Michael Strahan. But Lee still has much to prove in the prize ring. Harness has never been stopped, so it will be interesting to see whether Lee can take a step toward catching up to his hype and end this bout early.