photo by Rachel McCarson
EL PASO, Texas – Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32 KOs) notched his most impressive win to date Saturday night in front of 13,467 boxing fans in El Paso, defeating Irish challenger Andy Lee (28-2, 20 KOs) by TKO in round number seven.
Things did not start so well for Chavez.
The fight began with Lee soundly outboxing the tentative Chavez with forceful jabs and deft footwork. The second round was more of the same, as Chavez seemed befuddled by his opponent’s size and reach.
In the third, Chavez started finding success digging in hard shots to the body, but he ate too many clean counters from Lee to take the round decisively.
The fourth round went to Chavez, though, as he was able to position Lee in the corner, at times almost at will, and let loose powerful hooks and uppercuts, even stunning the challenger for the first time in the contest when both men landed hard shots at the same time.
It was perhaps then, that Chavez realized the power advantage he possessed over Lee.
The now determined Chavez started taunting Lee in the fifth, which seemed to lead the challenger to not only do the same in return, but to also abandon his jab almost completely in order to trade shots with the slugging Mexican. Both men landed heavy shots as the action picked up.
“He’d just walk through them,” Lee would say afterwards.
The men took turns getting the better of each other in the sixth, with Chavez coming out on top of things by the end of it, landing both excellently timed and powerfully thunderous punches in the corner as the bell sounded.
Chavez would just keep coming in the seventh, where ultimately his harder, more effective blows turned out to be just too much for the brave Irish challenger.
With the win, Chavez retained his WBC middleweight title belt, setting up a showdown with linear champion Sergio Martinez.
After the fight, Lee praised the champion as a worthy opponent for Martinez.
“I couldn’t hold him off,” he said. “He was too big and too strong.He’d give Martinez a hell of a fight.”
Lee’s hall of fame trainer, Emanuel Steward, concurred. “Junior fought a smart fight. He’s very strong. He passed the test. “
After the fight, Chavez seemed confident in the execution of his plan in the fight, despite being down on all three judges scorecards’ at the time four rounds to two.
“I started by studying him,” he said. “I saw he had nothing. I dove in.”
The story of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is becoming increasingly interesting.The 26-year-old continues to make his mark in the same sport his famous father made his, despite being ever present in the shadow of the man largely considered the greatest Mexican champion of all-time.
“I’m very happy to carry this name, to keep doing more, and to write my story in boxing.”
The next part of the story will include Sergio Martinez. Bob Arum and Lou DiBella confirmed the contest for September 15th in Las Vegas after the fight.
Chavez Jr.’s father, seems as eager as his son for the fight. “Martinez has talked too much,” he told the press. “I hope when the times come for the fight he doesn’t’ run like a chicken in the ring.”
Junior was less openly disdainful of Martinez.
“Martinez moves a lot so I’ll have to move. That’s a fight I have to make.”
The night of boxing opened under crystal clear skies. The heat from the sun was welcomed by the cast of eager onlookers, who had been told by weather forecasters there was a thirty percent chance of precipitation.
Super bantamweight Tremaine Williams (2-0, 2 KOs) remained undefeated in the infancy of his boxing career by knocking out the winless Theo Johnson (0-2). Williams opened the bout with a flurry of punches that set the tone which carried over for the remainder the affair. Williams finished his opponent the same way he started, flurrying until the hapless Johnson crumbled to the canvas.
Alejandro Gonzalez Jr. (12-0-2, 7 KOs) dominated fellow bantamweight Leopoldo Gonzalez (12-7-1, 7 KOs) with a steady diet of powerful right hands. Gonzalez knocked him down three times before the fight was stopped at forty-four seconds of round number one.
Hometown hero and middleweight prospect Abie Han (17-0, 11 KOS) kept El Paso fight fans’ hopes alive as he methodically battered the tough, game Joseph Gomez (18-6-1, 8 KOs) to earn a KO victory in round number four.Han, who came into the ring wearing trunks sporting both the United States and South Korean flags, fought calm and loose like a veteran. He went so far as to change to a southpaw stance multiple times through out the fight (albeit with limited success) before settling into a more natural orthodox approach that carried the day. Han found success with his straight right hand, knocking down Gomez three times before finishing him off in the fourth with the same devastating punch.
Tough-as-nails lightweight prospect Casey Ramos (16-0, 5 KOs) earned a TKO win over Arthur Trevino (7-8-3, 4 KOs). Ramos landed the harder, cleaner blows the entire fight, so much so that the referee began closely watching the game but overmatched Trevino from the third round on. Trevino’s corner threw in the towel at 1:14 of round five after seeing their fighter just take too many shots without being able to throw anything similar back in defense. After the fight, Ramos called it his best performance to date.
Roberto Marroquin (22-1, 15 KOs) was too strong for Arturo Santiago (7-6-1, 4 KOs). The undefeated super bantamweight blasted Santiago out in two rounds in a fight that wasn’t competitive in the least. Marroquin knocked him down three times in the second. First it was a left hook, then seconds later a right one. Finally, a double uppercut set the overmatched Santiago down for good.
Adam Lopez (3-0, 1 KO) stayed unbeaten by decisioning Raul Carrillo (1-6, 1 KO) over four rounds. Judges at ringside awarded the super bantamweight from San Antonio the win by scores of 40-36, 40-36 and 39-37. Lopez was able to outbox Carrillo but took what many at ringside deemed too many shots in return for a young, undefeated boxer looking to make his way up the ranks. Legendary Texas trainer Ronnie Shields may have his work cut out for him if Lopez is to move forward.
Miguel Angel Vazquez (31-3, 13 KOs) was too sharp for 35-year-old Daniel Attah (26-11-1, 9 KOs). Vazquez, ten year’s his opponent’s junior, was faster, busier and had better timing all through the night. He led when he wanted to lead, and countered when he wanted to counter. Attah was a trooper, but Vazquez, whose only losses are to top-level opponents, continued his way back towards the top of the division.
All three judges at ringside awarded Vazquez the win 100-90.
In the final bout before the Chavez-Lee main event, uber-talented welterweight prospect Alex Saucedo (4-0, 4 KOs) dominated the previously unbeaten James Harrison (1-1-1, 1 KO) using a myriad of powerful combinations to daze and baffle the latter from the opening round. Harrison found success with a looping overhand right, but it wasn’t enough to keep the carefully aggressive Saucedo off of him. Saucedo had him visibly dazed twice in the first, once again in the second and another time in the third. The final round was perhaps Harrison’s best round, not because he did anything really to win it, but because he managed to remain unbuzzed in it.
Saucedo took the decision win by scores of 40-36 across the board.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV