Popular Mexican middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr challenges reigning WBC Champ Sebastian Zbik for the title tonight at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
At age 25, Chavez Jr, 42-0-1 (30), has developed a big fan following after a career devoted to defeating a long line of Grade B opposition, winning regional WBC belts at light middle and the WBC Silver title at middleweight last year against John Duddy before defending it against Billy Lyell this past January.
Now, Chavez gets the chance to face another second tier fighter, Sebastian Zbik, but this time it's for a world title.
However, Zbik, 30-0 (10), is undefeated and probably the best opponent that the less than world class talent Chavez has faced so far.
The 29 year old German held a regional WBO crown at middle for three years before winning the Interim WBC title against Domenico Spada in 2009 and defending it three times, posting victories over Emanuel Della Rosa, Spada in a rematch and most recently Jorge Sebastian Heiland in July, 2010.
Zbik had very difficult bouts against Spada and Della Rosa and wasn't dominant against the under experienced Heiland but Chavez had difficult fights against Matt Vanda, Luciano Leonel Cuello and Lyell so this one isn't easy to predict.
Chavez is younger, quicker, taller and has a longer reach but Zbik is the more patient fighter and has a better defense.
The biggest advantage that either man has in the ring tonight is the fact that the bout takes place solidly on Chavez loyalist territory and that could make it tough for Zbik to win a decision.
Neither fighter is an concussive puncher, which means a distance fight, so unless Zbik can batter Chavez from pillar to post for at least 8-9 of the 12 rounds, we'll probably have a new champion.
But if Zbik can increase his recent activity rate and make Chavez fight off the back foot and on the defensive all night, he can walk out of LA still the champion.