EL PASO, TEXAS – In the words of his own legendary father, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32 KOs) became a man last night and put everyone in the middleweight division on notice with a thorough beating of contender Andy Lee (28-2, 20 KOs) at the Sun Bowl.
From the opening bell, it was readily apparent that critic predictions that Lee would be the harder puncher were wildly inaccurate. Lee scored points when he kept Junior on the end of his lengthy jab, but the WBC titlist easily backed up Lee whenever he connected with slashing left hooks. By the third round, Chavez Jr. found great success pinning Lee to the ropes and working him over with hooks to the body and guard-splitting uppercuts.
Lee stood his ground in the fourth, resulting in some furious inside exchanges. These still favored Chavez Jr., who clearly rattled Lee with left hooks. All respect for the challenger’s punching power had ceased by the fifth; Junior demoralized Lee by shimmying after every connected Lee punch and taunting him to throw more. The round would end much like the others with Lee wallowing on the ropes under a barrage of Junior’s hooks and uppercuts.
Chavez Jr. turned more to his right hand in the sixth. From ring center, he dug in wincing rights to the body, taking away Lee’s already minimal success with the left jab. Once Lee was cornered, Junior continued the abuse to the body.
“Keep his body in the center of the ring and box his ass,” said Lee trainer Emanuel Steward, hoping in vain the fighter he views like a son could turn around the inevitable.
The end came quickly and brutally in the seventh. Lee’s head was snapped back by uppercuts. Against the ropes, he was caught flush with a whipping right hook during an exchange. He doubled over as Junior rained down overhand power shots to prompt referee Laurence Cole to stop the one-sided beating.
Surprisingly, all three judges had Lee ahead at the time of the stoppage by scores of 58-56.
While clearly happy with the critic-silencing win, Chavez Jr. let it be known that the contest could have been finished sooner.
“I saw he didn’t have any anything and that’s when I came on. He never hurt me,” said Junior in his post-fight interview. “I’m going to knock out Martinez and shut his mouth!”
Lee, who trains with recognized middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, said Martinez would have problems with Chavez Jr.’s size but declined to pick a winner.
The win is Junior’s third defense of the WBC title and sets up an anticipated showdown with Sergio Martinez that’s tentatively scheduled for September 15.
Kudos to Junior; I definitely didn’t expect him to run through Lee in that fashion. The Martinez fight just got more intriguing. That scrap could end up looking like a better version of Martinez’s title-winning bout against Kelly Pavlik (and that was a good fight). Since the fight is being talked about in Vegas, I now have a tough choice; go check out Canelo-Ortiz or Martinez-Chavez Jr.?
For the record, I’m still picking Martinez. I feel he adjusts well late and knows when he needs to turn it on. Still, the X factor to me is Junior’s body shots. If he gets enough of them in early, Martinez may not have anything in the tank for those late knockouts that have become his calling card.