Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, 45-0-1 (31), makes the makes the third defence of his WBC middleweight title against 28-year-old southpaw challenger Andy Lee, 28-1-0 with 20 KO’s, tonight at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX.
Chavez Jr will always be in the quite considerable sized shadow of his father, former three weight world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Sr, and for some, will always be just a namesake and a ticket puller.
Here, he has his chance to show he is not just a famous name, that he does belong at world level, that it was not just clever matchmaking and favouritism that got him the title.
There are some good attributes Chavez Jr has inherited from his father though; He likes a good tear up and he is a tough kid.
Never have we really seen Chavez Jr in trouble, even though he is there to be hit. A defensive wizard Jr is not, nor is he a huge puncher. He can punch but he is not a concussive slugger, more like an accumulative puncher.
He will wade into range looking to throw combinations downstairs and up, brushing off any counters that come his way…but then who has he been in with that could punish him? Marco Antonio Rubio was probably his hardest test to date; Rubio is the hardest hitter Chavez Jr has faced and the most experienced.
Jr won by unanimous decision, but Rubio, as game as he was, never really turned it up.
Tenacity, like his father, but if Chavez Jr had his old man’s level of tenacity and aggression, I think we would have a much more exciting fighter in Chavez Jr, not one that extends just to the Mexican massive.
When he does come alive or when it is brought out of him, Jr looks good, he can walk the walk, but it is almost as if he cannot be bothered. Chavez Jr is guilty of switching off through rounds from time to time.
He rarely fights three minutes of a round, every round…like his Pa used to.
Perhaps Andy Lee will bring that out of him come fight night, although that would, in my humble opinion, be the wrong game plan for Lee to follow.
Lee also loves a good scrap, and is dragged into one all too easily. The difference is that we have seen Lee hurt, and wobbled and dropped. Do not get me wrong, this makes for a far more exciting fighter, and although he has had less fights than Chavez Jr, we know more about Lee.
We know Andy will dig deep, we know he has grit, heart, and courage. We have seen him box beautifully and we have seen him trade when he needs, or wants to.
What we also know is that he can be hurt, and was stopped by Brian Vera in early 2008. Again, no bad thing, being undefeated carries its pressures as well as its ego boosts, Lee knows what it is like to lose and under serious pressure he does not wilt, he fights.
Lee wanted to right that wrong on his record, facing and beating Vera again in late 2011.
Therefore, we also know he can outbox pressure fighters as well as get dragged into wars.
Both Chavez Jr and Lee have a good KO ratio, Lee around 70% and Chavez Jr around 65%, but Lee is the purer boxer and can move when he needs to. Chavez Jr (when he wants to) can play the consummate pressure fighter very well and can counter punch.
If Lee has the engine and decides to stick and move, he could outbox Chavez Jr to a points victory.
Alternatively, he gets pulled into the trenches by Jr and gets stopped late in the fight.