Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32KOs) has officially earned his spot as one of the top fighters in the world.
The WBO Middleweight champ has been a target of criticism since the opening bell of his career. Many skeptics including myself were suspicious from the very get-go, wondering if this kid could fight at all. Being the son of a legend is a tall order afterall. Especially if your father is the greatest Mexican fighter to ever live. After witnessing what took place in El Paso,Texas during HBO's Boxing After Dark telecast I can firmly say this man is the real deal.
The formable foe on this night would be the hard-hitting Irishmen Andy Lee (28-2, 20KOs). Lee, who was thought to be a very live underdog, is known to be a slick boxer-puncher who can control fights with his distance and jabs. As the opening bell sounded Chavez stalked his opponent as Lee controlled the action with a stiff jab that at one point in the round was followed by a left straight that stunned the champion.
Chavez didn't throw many punches in the following two rounds as Lee gained confidence working behind the jab. Then suddenly It became very clear what this fight was going to be.
Lee must have had the power to have held Chavez back. He knew he had to make Chavez respect his power. If Lee failed to hold off Chavez's pressure based inside attack, the fight would be over quick. During the third round Chavez began to rip big shots to the body and it became obvious that Lee threw his game plan out of the window. He began to fight Chavez's fight.
Lee landed a thudding uppercut in the fourth but Chavez seemed to be the much bigger, stronger man. Chavez danced much to the delight of the mostly Mexican crowd in the fifth round to show Lee's punches were not hurting him. Lee smiled and continued to attack but it was Chavez who landed huge left hooks to the head that pushed Lee back during the seventh.
Chavez kept his man against the ropes a-la his Chavez Sr. with body-head combinations, as Lee began to look spent and beat up. He wasn't able to flee from him against the ropes and took a lot of punishment from a head snapping attack. Chavez landed a savage right hand that buckled his opponent as the referee jumped in and stopped the fight.
After the fight, a refreshingly honest Lee said "My punches had no effect on him, I couldn't hold him off. " He then followed with " A lot of punches I threw in there could have hurt a lot of people but he just walked through them."
"I wanted to see if he had any power. When I saw he couldn't hurt me, that is when I came on" said a bold Chavez Jr. during his post-fight interview. He had every right to be bold. Thought to not be as important as his father was to his era of boxing, Chavez Jr. has a chance to silence all the critics as he promises a long-awaited showdown between him and middleweight kingpin Sergio Martinez is finally upon us. "I'm going to knock him out and shut his mouth" said Chavez.
The showdown apparently already has a September PPV date and you can be sure the entire boxing world will be watching.
Photo Credit: AP