By Cliff Rold
The controversy remains after last weekend’s big fight but the game rolls on. This weekend, Pacquiao-Bradley goes to the rearview mirror (okay, minus the HBO replay) in favor of two compelling main events on two separate networks. HBO brings us one of the hottest young stars in boxing and the scion of Mexico’s ultimate legend. NBC Sports brings us a Heavyweight fight between two men proven to be a cut below the Klitschko’s but fine fighters in their own right.
Sadly, the specter of possible judging problems remains. We want to ignore it but, really, can we? Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Tomasz Adamek toe the line this weekend against men capable of defeating them, but with big time home field advantages.
For all those who cry ’worst ever’ about last weekend (and it wasn’t even close to that), somewhere Pernell Whitaker is shaking his head. Chavez faces Andy Lee in the same state where his father got the brake beat off him in 1993 only to get one of the most disgraceful draws in the history of boxing. Adamek has made the Prudential Center his U.S. home and will have the crowd on his side.
Will we get good fights? Will we get good judging? Will the judges matter at all?
Let’s go to the report cards.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Titles: WBC Middleweight (2011-Present, 2 Defenses)
Previous Titles: None
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 159.85 lbs.
Hails from: Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico
Record: 45-0-1, 31 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #5 at Middleweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 3-0, 1 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 1 (Sebastian Zbik)
Titles/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 159.5 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 162.4 lbs.
Hails from: London, United Kingdom
Record: 28-1, 20 KO
BoxingScene Rank: Unrated
Record in Major Title Fights: 1st Title Opportunity
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 1 (Carl Daniels)
Previous Titles: WBC Light Heavyweight (2005-07, 2 Defenses); Lineal/Ring/IBF Cruiserweight (2008-10, 2 Defenses, Vacated)
Height: 6’1 ½
Weight: 225 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 217.4 lbs.
Hails from: Jersey City, New Jersey (Born in Poland)
Record: 45-2, 28 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #5 at Heavyweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 6-2, 3 KO, 1 KOBY
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 6 (O’Neil Bell, Steve Cunningham)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 2 (Chad Dawson, Vitali Klitschko)
Title/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 202 lbs.
Average Weight - Five Most Recent Fights: 213.95 lbs.
Hails from: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Record: 36-2, 18 KO
BoxingScene Rank: Unrated
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 1 (Samuel Peter)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 2 (Alexander Povetkin, Wladimir Klitschko)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Chavez B; Lee B
Pre-Fight: Power – Chavez B; Lee B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Chavez B-; Lee B-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Chavez B; Lee B
Pre-Fight: Speed – Adamek B+; Chambers B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Adamek C+; Chambers C-
Pre-Fight: Defense – Adamek B-; Chambers A
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Adamek A; Chambers B+
Of the two fights, the Middleweights may be more likely to make bloody war. Both men are there to get hit and both men have offensive strengths capable of offsetting the other. Chavez jabs decently and can get inside. Once there, he is a volume puncher who grinds guys down. He’s not a great fighter, but he’s improved by leaps. Lee on the other hand is more the sharpshooter, a nice counter puncher with real pop. Of the two, his learning curve has been less but he had less room to grow. His Olympic background led to Manny Steward in the corner and he has sharpened and progressed. Does he have the durability to withstand a trench war with Chavez if he doesn’t get Junior out of there? That’s the big question.
At Heavyweight, we have a clash of styles that can work. Adamek can box but loves to fight. Chambers is all boxer, but doesn’t do it with flashy feet. He stands up, picks shots, and looks to counter. When he is in shape, he can do it for a whole fight and has decent, if not ending, pop on the left hook. In less than stellar shape, he was boxing Povetkin well until he ran out of gas. Neither man could get past their Klitschko, but no one else can these days either. Adamek has to land straight shots through the gloves to avoid the sort of night he had with Chad Dawson where getting hit first too often precluded hitting back.
Starting with the Heavyweights, a lot here depended on which Chambers showed up. In the low 200s, he could win almost every round of this fight. Adamek is tough, and fun, but he can be outboxed. Chambers over 210 and we could get the sluggish version who gasses as the fight wears on. Chambers showed up at 202 and Adamek came in at a career high 225. That's too bulky and he's not a super puncher at heavyweight. I expect the scores to be close, but Chambers should be able to scoop enough rounds even in New Jersey to earn the points verdict. The judges won’t want to be the story, especially in a state proven willing to suspend judges after Paul Williams-Erislandy Lara.
At Middleweight, scoring isn’t going to matter. Despite an excellent amateur pedigree, Lee never really seems to firm on his legs and I wonder about his chin. He also, despite early hype, hasn't done much more as a pro than Junior. He can crack, and Chavez is there to be tagged, but Lee will still be in range of Middleweight. Chavez has shown a decent beard and tends to rehydrate as a small Cruiserweight. As the rounds wear on, it will be a grind for Lee and Chavez should be able to score an accumulative stoppage.
Report Card Picks 2012: 30-9
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]