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Emanuel Steward Breaks Down Chavez Jr vs. Andy Lee

by Chris Robinson

A few days ago on BoxingScene.com, Top Rank's CEO Bob Arum revealed that a June 16th fight between WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and once-beaten Andy Lee was close to becoming a reality.

If successful in such a fight, Chavez very well may be in line for a September 15th date with Argentina’s Sergio Martinez, the man recognized as the best middleweight in the world. But the Lee fight in itself is a pretty decent bout, especially if you ask the Irish pug’s trainer Emanuel Steward.
 
Moonlighting as a color commentator for HBO in his free time, Steward has gotten an intimate view of a handful of Chavez’s bouts, including his February 4th decision over Marco Antonio Rubio in San Antonio. While showing respect for the improvements that the 25-year old champion has made in recent years under the tutelage of Freddie Roach, you can still sense the eagerness in Steward’s voice when discussing the challenge of facing Chavez.

On Monday night I caught up with Emanuel and discussed a few angles related to a Chavez-Lee fight, including Lee’s improvement since his lone loss, a March 2008 7th round TKO to Brian Vera, and the impression Chavez left with his unanimous decision over Rubio a few months back.
 
Steward also spoke on Martinez’s TKO victory over Matthew Macklin on March 17th and how he factors into the whole equation.
 
This is what Steward had to share…
 
Learning from the Vera loss…
“It wasn’t no major thing, we knew what happened in that fight. We were told that the weight was going to be 160 and we came in extremely light, about 158. We were too relaxed and we underestimated the opponent. That was basically it. We were too relaxed and Vera fought what was maybe the high point of his life. He may never fight again but he was phenomenal that night. The next time we decided to pay Vera a little more respect. We stopped playing and were prepared to go the full limit. Before we went out all out trying to finish him off.

The learning experience…
“It’s part of the learning experience all boxers go through. You learn how to pace yourself. Like Wladimir Klitschko said ‘All three of my losses in my life is what’s made me a better fighter’. Losses, sometimes in life you learn from them.”

Learning about Lee…
“Going back into the second fight, it wasn’t like he was beaten by Vera. He was winning the fight big time, ahead on points, it’s just when he had him hurt that one time that he went all out instead of going halfway out and studying to see how hurt his opponent was. He just went all out. And Vera came storming back and I also learned that Andy could take a punch because Vera beat the hell out of him for almost one full minute with almost every punch he wanted. Andy took all of those blows and when the referee stopped the fight, Andy was the one throwing a punch when Vera was stopping to take a break.”

Impressed by Chavez’s commanding decision over Rubio on February 4th…
“Yes I was. I was very impressed. He physically just crowded Rubio. He put him on the ropes and made it a physical type fight. Compared to when the fight before that with Manfredo where he showed his boxing skills. This time he was very physical. And I see him as a much-improved fighter. And Andy, we both feel the same way. We talked about it, during the broadcast I think I texted Andy and said ‘He looks good, he’s doing exactly what he’s supposed to’. He’s fighting more like his Daddy and he’s got it down pretty good now.”

Reasons why Lee would have success against Chavez…
“There’s quite a few things. One, he’s one of the few guys that Chavez would fight that has a serious amateur career. Andy was in the Olympics, won World Juniors, all those international matches. His last amateur fight he beat the Cuban world champion. And then he’s tall, taller than what Julio has been used to fighting. Most of the guys he’s used to fighting are shorter than him. Andy is a bigger guy and he has the left-handed style and he could be a problem. Plus he has a little bit of that European style of fighting; guys who stay upright, keep balance, keep distance, and I think that a lot of people are underestimating the talent of Andy.”

Bringing Julio along…
“I think Julio is a much, much improved fighter and they’ve done a great job of bringing him along. He’s developed perfectly, he’s right now a champion that has gotten his amateur experience as a professional through great matchmaking. I think the matchmaking that they’ve done has been excellent and he’s now an excellent professional fighter.”

Chavez’s recent struggles in making the middleweight limit…
“Yeah, you can’t keep doing that. You just can’t keep doing that, I don’t care what. If he can do it and get away with it, I can’t fault him, because he’s taking advantage of this almost 30-hour weigh-in time. But Andy’s a big middleweight when he wants to be too.  Andy’s 6’2 and he probably stays around 180 pounds. But the last fight Andy had, he was actually down to 159 when he weighed in. Eventually losing the weight and doing that is going to catch up with you, but I don’t think he took Rubio or Manfredo as seriously as he would Andy Lee. Because he realizes that Andy actually only has one loss and he was even winning that fight.”

The biggest names at middleweight…
“People say ‘Even a two-year old can recognize the names in the middleweight division’, it’s Sergio [Martinez], Andy, and Chavez and the other guys, Pirog may be the best out of all of them. But just marquee value, the biggest names are still those three. And Andy and Peter have big ethic followings, the Irish people, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans are the biggest fans in the world. It’s unfortunate that Sergio, who could be the most talented, he doesn’t have a solid fan base.”

Thoughts on Martinez’s victory over Macklin last month…
“I think Sergio fought a fantastic fight. Macklin, don’t forget, he’s still in a certain class. He looked great but look at the kind of class he was fighting. But Sergio fought a very good fight, very smart. He didn’t get his range or rhythm the first four rounds or so and after a while he started to figure out and he adjusted and started shooting the straight left right. He turned it up, his hand and eye coordination were just too much. I spoke to Macklin afterwards and he didn’t say anything. The last two rounds he was just out of it. It was just a little too much for him. Sergio did what a champion was supposed to do. Regardless of the class of opponent, he made his adjustments after having difficulties and he pulled it off.”

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Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at [email protected] and www.Twitter.com/CRHarmony

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User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Convicted_Felon on 04-07-2012

Andy Lee boxed well against Brian Lee Vera. If he boxes that well against Chavez, without getting bullied around, he could pull it off. It's about time that the guys at TR stopped messin' around and made the fights people…

Comment by Ringlife on 04-03-2012

Lee is going to test Chavez Jr. But I still think Chavez Jr beats Lee in this one. I will be making lots of cash on Sergio when he fights Chavez. I already got two bets going at work.

Comment by ManOnTheMoon on 04-03-2012

Sergio does have a big followng but dibella doesn't know how to promote him. Sergio has a major following from Mexican fans but dibella doesnt see it and never puts him in on cards vs Mexicans or on cards with…

Comment by Evil Abed on 04-03-2012

[QUOTE=Roman Moreno;11966621]Rubio and Lee are just as good as Barker and Macklin maybe even better.[/QUOTE] And don't forget Zbik. I agree.

Comment by Roman Moreno on 04-03-2012

[QUOTE=ojasos;11965717]If Chavez Jr fought the same fighters Sergio fought, he would have gotten knocked out several times and on the top of that he needed steroids to accomplish his wins against bums... Chavez Jr is a fraud, only dumb mexicans…

Post a Comment/View More User Comments (13)
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