photo by Chris Farina-Top Rank
No, he doesn't have the pop his pop had, but Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. can crack, as he showed in the main event in the Sun Bowl at U. Texas-El Paso, in El Paso, Texas on Saturday night. HBO showed Chavez' effort against Andy Lee, who started out boxing smartly, but was lured into a bit of a brawl with the Mexican, to his ultimate dismay. Lefts and rights to the head and body, with Lee on the ropes, forced the ref to end the fan-friendly tussle in the seventh. The end came at 2:21, and dad grinned and screamed his approval from the front row.
Larry Merchant chatted with both men after. Junior said he figured out Lee didn't have enough power to bother him, and then pressed on the gas. "He never hurt me," he said. He said he's happy to carry on the family name in the game. He said his legs were bothering him from the start, and could have stopped Lee earlier. Asked about Sergio Martinez, he said he would knock him out and shut his mouth. Lee said Junior is a good fighter, and he walked through good punches. "He's a big middleweight. He's heavy, it was hard to move him with my shots," he said. He said he's better than people give him credit for, and Sergio will have his hands full.
I still like the pedigree of Sergio Martinez if and when he and Junior get it on, in September. What about you?
The stats: Chavez went 116-252, to 121-420 for the loser, who simply didn't have the mustard on his launches that the victor did.
The WBC middleweight titleholder Chavez (age 26; 45-0 entering; from Culiacan, Mexico), who last fight had to lose 15 pounds in two days to make weight, against Marco Rubio, weighed 159 pounds, while Lee (age 28; 28-1 entering; from Ireland, living in Michigan) was 159 ¼ pounds.
Manny Steward said pre-fight that this bout was his most emotional since Hearns-Leonard II, because Lee lived in Steward’s house for seven years.
Both men were driven in Hummer limos from the dressing room to the ring, not something I’d seen before.
In the first, Lee was in control, using his height, using his jab, but he did eat a clean, hard left hook to tell him his chin would be tested.
In the second, a Chavez left hook landed and made the crowd buzz. A Lee straight left made Chavez respect his power.
In the third, Lee was backing up, as Jr. came forward, patient, looking to land a power hook. The Irishman smartly threw and moved, mostly, but Chavez sometimes cornered him, pinned him on the ropes. Jr nodded no, you’re not hurting me, to Lee and implored him to get more aggressive late in the round. Steward told Lee he was in good shape, that he was boxing well. “Don’t wait on him, you be first,” trainer Freddie Roach told Junior. “You’re too strong for him.” Harold Lederman had Lee up 2-1 after three.
In the fourth, Lee used his uppercut to good effect. “He’s getting tired Andy,” Steward yelled. Junior landed about three hard, clean rights and the crowd liked the trading. Steward told Lee to simply box, not trade, after the round.
In the fifth, Chavez lured Lee in a bit of a brawl. Lee chuckled and told Chavez that he had nothing. The showier shots belonged to Chavez. His left hook to the head and body proved Lee’s chin was sturdy on this night. Steward again told his boxer that the foe was tired. We heard that Chavez complained of leg cramps after the round, in his right leg.
In the sixth, we heard that no, HBO didn’t get an unofficial weight for either man this night, so we didn’t know if Chavez was 180, like against Rubio. Lee had a 11-85 edge in punches landed, according to CompuBox, after six.
In the seventh, Chavez finished the night. He was blasting Lee, and ref Laurence Cole stepped in to halt it. Lefts and right, to head and body, with a right cross in tight doing the most damage, ended the night for Lee.