Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: A victory over Andy Lee on Saturday in El Paso – even a sensational one –doesn’t prove that Chavez has become an elite fighter. Lee is solid but nothing special. That said, it’s getting more and more difficult to dismiss Junior as an over-hyped pretender who is riding the coattails of his father. Chavez (46-0-1, 32 knockouts) demonstrated again that he’s becoming a very good all-around fighter. He is big (unusually big for a 160-pounder), strong and extremely tough. He definitely has daddy’s chin. He’s more than that, though. He’s also good. He fights with poise and obviously has learned a great deal under trainer Freddie Roach. The methodical manner in which he broke down Lee – and then stopped him in the seventh round – was impressive. Indeed, Lee’s battered face was evidence of Chavez’s continuing progress. The fact is that the kid is legit. Can he beat Sergio Martinez? Wellllllllllll …
Chavez vs. Martinez: A matchup that was once scoffed at now seems to be compelling, which is why Chavez’s promoter Bob Arum is eagerly pursuing it. One thing must be clear, though: Martinez is giant step up from anyone Junior has faced in his almost-nine-year career. I would give Chavez a chance to beat anyone 160 pounds and below because of his unusual physical attributes combined with his undeniable progress as a boxer. And make no mistake: Chavez would have a distinct edge in size and strength against Martinez. That doesn’t mean Junior would win the fight, though. Again, he has seen no one even close to Martinez’s ability in a professional boxing ring. The Argentine is the much more talented fighter. I believe Martinez would give Chavez a boxing lesson and ultimately a bad beating en route to a one-sided decision or even a late knock out.
Andy Lee: Chavez was the star of the show but the fight also was a big opporunity for Lee, a capable boxer with some pop in his punches and considerable experience. I thought going into the fight that Lee had a chance of upsetting Chavez, who has always seemed vulnerable at least to some degree. Alas, Lee (28-2, 20 KOs) admitted afterward that he simply couldn’t handle his opponent’s overwhelming strength and underrated ability and ended up on the wrong end of a nasty beat down, a tremendous blow to his career. Lee has now lost to Chavez and Brian Vera and had a shakey performance in victory over Craig McEwan. Don’t write Lee off. He is only 28 and doesn’t have a lot of wear and tear on his body. At the same time, it’s difficult to imagine him taking the next step.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Tomasz Adamek: The former light heavyweight and cruiserweight titleholder continues to be one of the most-consistent boxers on the planet, his one brutal loss to Vitali Klitschko last year being the exception. Adamek (46-2, 28 KOs) came into his fight against Eddie Chambers on Saturday well prepared (as usual) and, with his combination of excellent boxing ability and unusual toughness, outworked a capable and determined opponent to win a unanimous decision before his hometown fans in Newark, N.J. Chambers apparently injured his left arm in the first round but continued to give a game effort, meaning Adamek didn’t luck out. He earned his victory. He undoubtedly also earned another big-money fight in the process. And he deserves it.
Eddie Chambers: Chambers (36-3, 18 K0s) deserves a lot of credit for his performance on Saturday. First, he came into the fight weighing a fit 202 pounds. He was quick and athletic. And even after he injured his arm, he remained competitive against a very good, experienced opponent. I thought it was a close fight, although I gave Adamek a slight edge. Judge Alan Rubinstein’s score of 119-109? Not sure what he was watching. Afterward, Chambers was clearly devastated. He semed to have bounced back completely from his brutal loss to Wladimir Klitschko in 2010 only to have an injury in all liklihood prevent him from giving his best. I still believe he can compete with any heavyweight not named Klitschko. I hope he still believes it.
Quigg-Munroe:Scott Quigg’s fight against veteran Rendall Munroe (24-2-1, 10 KOs) on Saturday in Manchester was supposed to give us an idea of how good the young Brit is. And it was shaping up to be an interesting matchup, with Munroe controlling the first round and Quigg (24-0-1, 17 KOs) looking sharp in the second. Then a clash of heads – which caused a gastly cut on Munroe’s eyebrow – ended the fight in an instant. Officially, it was a technical draw. I don’t want to read too much into six minutes-plus of action but I liked what I saw from Quigg, who is a remarkably good boxer given his limited experience. He reportedly had only 12 amateur fights. And he appears to be unusually quick and athletic, traits not always found in British fighters. Too bad we didn’t get to see how he would fare against an elite opponent. That will come soon enough, though. He’s only 23.
Chavez Jr.: “Sergio Martinez has talked a lot of smack, some real bad stuff about me. … I’m going to knock him out and shut his mouth. Let’s see if he backs it up and comes to fight when we get into the ring.” Oh, he’ll come to fight.
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at email@example.com