By Lem Satterfield
Mexican middleweight challenger Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will take on Germany's WBC champion Sebastian Zbik in a clash of unbeatens at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
The 25-year-old Chavez (41-0-1, 30 knockouts) is coming off of January's unanimous 10-round decision over Ohio's Billy Lyell (23-9, five KOs) at Estadio Banorte in Chavez Jr.'s home town of Culiacan, Mex., his second under five-time Trainer of The Year, Freddie Roach, and strength and conditioning coach, Alex Ariza.
The 29-year-old Zbik (30-0, 10 KOs) was elevated to the status of full WBC champion and mandated to face Chavez in his first defense in January, this after southpaw former titlist Sergio Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs) was declared the WBC's Emeritus Champion, essentially stripping the Argentinian-born fighter of the crown he earned by dethroning Kelly Pavlik (37-2, 32 KOs) in April of 2010.
BoxingScene.com sought the opinions of 11 boxing insiders as to whom the think will win between Chavez and Zbik.
Bob Canobbio, CompuBoxOnline.com
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. UD 12 Sebastian Zbik: The light-hitting Sebastian Zbik averaged just 44 punches thrown per round -- 14 of which landed at 33 percent -- in four of his fights tracked by CompuBox.
Zbik did land 41 percent of his power shots and Julio Cesar Chavez's seven opponents landed 42 percent of their power punches. But as his record suggests, Zbik's not a puncher.
Chavez isn't a puncher either, but he did average 65 punches thrown per round -- 27 landed at 42 percent -- in seven of his fights tracked by CompuBox.
Chavez will be fueled by highly-partisan Staples Center crowd as well.
Norm Frauenheim, 15rounds.com:
Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. UD 12 Sebastian Zbik: Julio Cesar Chavez by unanimous decision. It’s not whether. It’s by how much. Chavez needs a dominant victory if he hopes to fulfill Top Rank’s hopes for enduring stardom.
Then, there are questions about whether he inherited only the Chavez name and none of daddy’s toughness. Junior needs to erase some of the doubt.
He has a chance to do exactly that against light-hitting Sebastian Zbik, a German who is fighting in the U.S. for the first time. A knockout would do the trick.
But Zbik is slick enough to survive 12 rounds, which means Chavez needs to win most of them.
Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. W 12 Sebastian Zbik: I don't think that Julio Cesar Chavez is a world-class fighter in the traditional sense, but he's greatly improved and I know for sure that he's in better physical shape.
I don't think that Sebastian Zbik stands a chance to win a decision over Chavez in this spot in Los Angeles, so I think that he would need to knock junior out to win. I see Junior thus winning a decision in an underwhelming performance.
Steve Kim, MaxBoxing.com
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. W 12 Sebastian Zbik: Julio Cesar Chavez by decision. I think he'll be too busy and active on the inside for Sebastian Zbik, who really just likes to box from the perimeter and counter punch.
That's a hard way to win a decision in Los Angeles against Chavez
Peter Owen Nelson, ESPN.com, freelance writer
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. W 12 Sebastian Zbik: Early strategy will give way to warfare in the later rounds. The pro-Julio Cesar Chavez crowd in Los Angeles will only intensify his hunger to win his first world title.
Sebastian Zbik is being underestimated, but I believe Chavez will take a hard-earned decision.
Chris Robinson, Examiner.com
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. UD 12 Sebastian Zbik: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has never really looked like a champion. But since teaming up with Freddie Roach last year, he has shown improvements.
I was impressed with his tough victory over John Duddy last summer, and I feel that Sebastian Zbik is the perfect opponent for him in his first world title attempt.
Michael Rosenthal, RingTV.com
Sebastian Zbik UD 12 Julio Cesar Chave Jr. : One thing I'm certain of is that Sebastian Zbik represents the toughest fight in the career of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Chavez probably has an edge is strength and power, and he seems to be the naturally bigger man. However, Zbik is a well-schooled, experienced technician who might be too skillful for the developing fighter Chavez still is.
Zbik by close, but unanimous decision.
Joseph Santoliquito, Ring Magazine Editor
Sebastian Zbik W 12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has been carried long enough. Daddy's surname runs out of cache against Sebastian Zbik.
In this fight, experience wins out as Zbik becomes triumphant over an inflated fighter with plenty of hype and nothing much else to back it up.
Don Steinberg, Philadelphia Inquirer/Wall Street Journal
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. W 12 Sebastian Zbik: Sebastian Zbik-Julio Cesar Chavez ought to have everything from Z to Z. But I expect Julius Caesar Jr. to conquer, taking the title by decision.
Rick Reeno, BoxingScene.com
Sebastian Zbik UD 12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr: I expect the fight to be close, but Zbik has enough skill to deal with a fighter like Chavez. Unless Chavez changed his entire arsenal and has the ability to throw multiple combinations in consecutive fashion, I expect Zbik to pull it out.
Bob Velin, USA Today
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. UD 12 Sebastian Zbik: I think the fact that Julio Cesar Chavez has the genes and the skills, and the fact that he has learned under Freddie Roach will help him.
That's a good thing, because he did not impress me up to a year ago. But I think it will be a decent fight with enough action to satisfy boxing fans.
I think that Sebastian Zbik will come to fight, but that he will not be able to handle Chavez' speed. I see Chavez winning by unanimous decision.
The experts are going with Julio Cesar Chavez, 8-3, to vanquish Sebastian Zbik.