Lem Satterfield

Chavez Jr. to face Lee on June 16, maybe Martinez on Sept. 15

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Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum told RingTV.com on Tuesday that WBC middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will face southpaw Andy Lee on June 16 at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Tex., with an eye toward facing RING champion Sergio Martinez on September 15.

Chavez (45-0-1, 31 knockouts) successfully defended his title by unanimous decision over Marco Antonio Rubio on Feb. 4, and will next meet the Detroit-based Lee (28-1, 20 KOs), a winner of his past 13 fights, eight of them by knockout since, himself, being stopped by Bryan Vera in the seventh round in March of 2008.

Lee avenged his loss to Vera following a 10-round unanimous decision in October, and is coming off last month’s second-round stoppage of Saul Duran. 

“Julio is fighting Andy Lee. We have reached an agreement with Lou DiBella,” Arum said of Lee, who, like Martinez, is promoted by Lou DiBella.

“Then we’re going to go to work on what the WBC has ordered, which is the winner of Chavez-Lee fights Sergio Martinez. “The other one [Martinez-Chavez] would be on Sept. 15 on Mexican Independence Day, and we don’t have a site yet.”

Chavez-Lee matches two of the sport’s premiere trainers in Chavez’s five-time Trainer of the Year, Freddie Roach, and Lee’s Manny Steward.

Roach also handles WBO welterweight beltholder Manny Paquiao and former IBF/WBA junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan, and Steward has guided the careers of Thomas Hearns and Lennox Lewis, and now THE RING heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko, owner of the IBF, WBC and WBO belts.

“Subject to them sending us a contract that reflects the terms that were verbally agreed upon, yes, we’re fighting Andy Lee,” said manager, Billy Keane, of Chavez Jr., the 26-year-old son of the Mexican champion by the same name.

“But until then, there will be no press conference and Julio is not going to start training until the fight is official and the paperwork done. [Chavez's co-promoter] Fernando [Beltran] spoke to Julio, and we’re fine with Andy Lee. We’ll look for an offer from Bob Arum, so we can get things wrapped up and Julio can start training.”

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A left-hander like Lee, (48-2-2, 27 KOs) is coming off last month’s 11th-round knockout of Mathew Macklin (28-4, 19 KOs) at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

The stoppage was the fourth straight in five consecutive victories by Martinez, who was coming off of an 11th-round knockout of London’s Darren Barker (23-1, 14 KOs) in October.

Martinez won the undisputed middleweight title with a unanimous decision over Kelly Pavlik in April  of 2010 before scoring a second-round knockout of Paul Williams in November of that year in a rematch of their 2009 fight that Williams won by a controversial majority decision.

Martinez was then forced, however, to give up his WBC belt for fighting Sergei Dzinziruk in March on HBO, a bout Martinez won by an eight-round KO.

Sebastian Zbik  was elevated to the status of WBC beltholder, but was subsequently dethroned by Chavez Jr. via unanimous decision in June. Chavez is coming off a fifth-round stoppage of Peter Manfredo Jr last November.

“Sept. 15 is the plan to face Martinez,” said Keane. “Subject to the money being where we hope that it would be, that would be the plan.”

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lemuel.satterfield@gmail.com

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