WBC middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has fought most of his career in the shadows of his legendary world champion father.
But after destroying challenger Andy Lee (28-1, 20 knockouts) in the seventh round of his HBO-televised title defense at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday night, Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32 knockouts) declared himself ready to do the same to Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs).
“Sergio Martinez has talked a lot of smack, some real bad stuff about me,” said Chavez, adding “I’m going to knock him out and shut his mouth” during a post-fight interview. “Let’s see if he backs it up and comes to fight when we get into the ring.”
“This really was a wonderful night for all of the citizens of El Paso,” said Arum. “Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s next fight will be against Sergio Martinez on Sept. 15, Las Vegas, on HBO Pay Per View.”
Lee had won 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 had avenged his loss to Vera following a 10-round unanimous decision in October, and was coming off a second-round stoppage of Saul Duran in March.
“I never thought Andy could hurt or damage me with any of his punches so that is why I kept pressing forward,” said Chavez.
“The only thing that bothered me were some leg cramps around the fifth round. My only concern at that time was being able to go the distance, but I was able to finish him off.”
Lee found Chavez to be unstoppable.
“My punches had no effect on him. I couldn’t hold him off. He was too big, too strong,” said Lee. “A lot of punches I threw in there could have hurt a lot of people but he just walked through them.”
The victory was the sixth straight for Chavez since trainer Freddie Roach began working with him, including one over New York’s tough John Duddy, another against previously unbeaten Sebastian Zbik for his current title, and a fifth-round knockout over Peter Manfredo Jr. in November.
In February, Chavez Jr. impressively walked down and walked through hard-hitting Marco Antonio Rubio for a unanimous decision.
“Years ago, writers used to say I was pretty bad, and after awhile, I was wondering maybe they were right,” said Chavez. “What I have done recently makes me believe I am a pretty good fighter.”
On Saturday night, Chavez even impressed Lee’s trainer, Manny Steward, who has guided the careers of Thomas Hearns and Lennox Lewis, and RING heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko, owner of the IBF, WBC and WBO belts.
“We had asked Andy to box to win this fight, but he got into a slugging situation,” said Steward, who had predicted a knockout win for Lee. “Junior (Chavez) fought a smart fight. He was very strong in the ring. He passed the test.”
Macklin represented the fourth straight knockout in five consecutive victories by Martinez, who had scored an 11th-round knockout of London’s previously unbeaten Darren Barker in October of last year.
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 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 eighth-round KO. Zbik was elevated to the status of WBC beltholder before being dethroned by Chavez.
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com