by Cliff Rold
Maybe he can topple Sergio Martinez. Maybe not. One thing is certain. A fight that looked like a joke a year ago is no laughing matter.
Sergio Martinez has said he wants Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. After Saturday, all signs point towards a September showdown and the old adage ‘be careful what you wish for’ comes to mind. In a fight somewhat reminiscent of his father’s destruction of Edwin Rosario, Chavez walked through some stiff shots from Andy Lee and laid down an impressive beating in Texas.
Andy Lee may not be a world-beater, but he’s been a sturdy pro. Saturday’s fight was a referendum on the ceiling for both fighters. Lee may never be a championship level fighter. There’s now at least a decent chance Chavez will win the real Middleweight title with his ceiling still well above him.
Chavez wasn’t the only significant actor on the stage this weekend. In New Jersey, Tomasz Adamek found a real challenge in slick Eddie Chambers and got a little luck when Chambers was relegated to the use of but one arm for most of the fight. It ended up a solid Heavyweight affair and both men had reason to hold their head high
Let’s go to the report cards.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Chavez B; Lee B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Chavez B; Lee B/Post: B+; B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Chavez B-; Lee B-/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Chavez B; Lee B/Post: A; B
Pre-Fight: Speed – Adamek B+; Chambers B+/Post: B+; A-
Pre-Fight: Power – Adamek C+; Chambers C-/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Adamek B-; Chambers A/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Adamek A; Chambers B+/Post: A; A
Beginning with the Heavyweights, Adamek found out what every Heavyweight not named Klitschko has learned about Chambers. That is a tricky, tough Philadelphian. Both men earn kudos for different reasons.
Chambers showed real game in competing after an obvious left arm injury. His performance was reminiscent of the night Jesus Chavez lost serious use of a wing against Erik Morales. Coming off the floor, Chavez dug deep and overcompensated to get back into the fight. Chambers did the same, constantly finding new ways to employ the right and stay in, and many times ahead, in the bout.
Adamek showed the desire that made him a fan-favorite champion in two classes and that keeps him in the mix at Heavyweight. In the final two rounds, with the fight seemingly up for grabs, Adamek refused to succumb. He outworked Chambers in those critical frames and stole victory, or at least serious controversy, from the jaws of defeat. The only pox on the evening was a single score from judge Allan Rubenstein.
Anyone who thinks Adamek won eleven rounds on Saturday need not apply for a fight of significance ever again.
Speaking of scores, it was surprising if not unfathomable to find out after the fight that the judges had Andy Lee up for 4-2 across the board after six on Saturday. This card gave Lee only the first as Chavez’s heavy body attack seemed to be shading frames with authority. The result told in the seventh when Lee was finally broken down.
Lee has shown issues with durability before but he’s proven he can crack pretty well and Chavez is showing beard runs in the blood. He walked through some stiff bombs and laughed about it. His defense may yet get him in trouble but it hasn’t happened yet and his improvement over the last year is one of boxing’s best stories.
Take away the last name and he would still stand out as one of the best rising lights at 160 lbs. He has made his logical progressions and is ready for his shot at the brass ring. He’s seen speed, he’s seen pop, and now he may see a Martinez who has both.
Chavez will be the bigger man naturally if and when they face off. At 37, if Martinez starts slow as he did with Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker, will he have the stuff to turn the tide on a Chavez who gets stronger as rounds go by?
It is suddenly one of the game’s most compelling questions. Something destined to be a big fight has become a real one. Let all hope, instead of talking about, Chavez decides to be about it and makes the challenge a reality on the dotted line.
Report Card Picks 2012: 31-10
Heavyweight: Marco Huck appears for now to be staying at Cruiserweight and exits the ratings. Chambers, who only narrowly lost and had many fans scoring in his favor, re-enters. Adamek remains as he was.
Middleweight: Chavez remains where he was but there isn’t much separating the top five in terms of quality wins right now. Anyone who has Chavez higher can feel fine at this point in their chosen position.
Remaining results and the full ratings update are a click away.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]