The Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX played host to a WBC middleweight title clash last night between champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and challenger Andy Lee.
The occasion marked the third straight time Chavez Jr has defended his title in Texas since winning the WBC belt against Sebastian Zbik a year ago.
Lee had campaigned long and hard for a title shot and the lanky Irish lefty had been facing a steadily increasing level of opposition but to date had been nowhere near sharing the ring with a world class operator.
The first frame saw southpaw Lee establish distance and score with the jab as Chavez Jr, tried unsuccessfully to get inside. Chavez Jr stepped it up in the second, applying pressure and getting closer as Lee tries picking off the champion.
By the third, Chavez had managed to get close enough to start ripping shots to Lee's body while the challenger looked for openings but had a hard time catching the champion cleanly.
Chavez managed in the fourth to get Lee to start fighting although the Irishman had some success in doing so. The fifth saw some clowning from both fighters as Lee made a concerted effort to dig in and get in the trenches, effectively trading hard shots with Chavez.
Lee does good work in the sixth but he can't back off Chavez, who starts going back to the body with good effect.
In the seventh, Chavez ramps it up, assaulting Lee on the ropes and landing big shots upstairs and down. A battered Lee tries to fight back but is caught flush with a pinpoint right and is out on his feet, causing referee Laurence Cole to stop the contest at 2:21 of the round.
Lee sees a 13 bout win streak snapped, falling to 28-2 (20), while Chavez Jr now stands at 46-0-1 (32) having retained his WBC title for the third time.
Chavez Jr could be heading to what should be his most difficult fight, a WBC title defense against the recognized divisional leader, WBC Diamond beltholder Sergio Gabriel Martinez, 49-2-2 (28), in September.
Coming off two harder than expected contests against British fighters Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker, Martinez is seen by many to be slipping at age 37 and will have to turn back the clock to his masterful 2010 form if he is to defeat the rapidly improving Chavez Jr.