My thoughts on this past week’s boxing stories:
*This past weekend many of us witnessed a part of boxing history when Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was crowned the first Mexican born middleweight in history. Chavez Jr. defeated German Sebastian Zbik via a close majority decision last Saturday night at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. As I sat ringside, I had Chavez Jr. up seven rounds to five by the end of the match. Zbik controlled the early part of the bout with combination punches but by the halfway point it was noticeable that Chavez Jr.’s constant body work was taking its toll and it was interesting to watch Zbik go back to his corner round after round with a dejected grimace on his face. Many at ringside were torn between Zbik’s laser-like precision punching and Chavez Jr. harder power punches.
Zbik clearly landed more punches but Chavez Jr. was the one that landed the more effective ones especially to the body. By the end of the night, Chavez Jr. was crowned the most recent green and gold belt holder in a move that many believe was preordained by the WBC’s Jose Sulaiman, Top Rank’s Bob Arum and Zanfer’s Fernando Beltran. We all know that Chavez Jr. is not the most skillful boxer out there. He is not even the most skill full active fighter out of Culiacan, MX. Many believe that his younger brother, Omar, is the better of the two but the younger Chavez has his own set of issues.
Regardless of his skill set, the Chavez Jr.-Zbik fight was an entertaining affair with its fair share of drama and action. Why watch guys like Chad Dawson who is light years away in skills but fights with out passion? Or mis matches that have been broadcast on HBO from the days of Roy Jones Jr. up to Andre Berto vs. Freddie Hernandez? Give me Chavez Jr. vs. B level opposition once a day and twice on Sunday.
*As soon as I was informed that Chavez Jr. was going to challenge for the WBC middleweight title, I was anxious to see what kind of event Top Rank put together compared to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s coronation which occurred earlier this year when he defeated Matthew Hatton for the WBC super welterweight title. I consider Top Rank the best promoter in the business with the way they have been able to create genuine stars from scratch or plucking them from obscurity and putting them in front of a world wide audience. Cotto, Pavlik, Margarito, Pacquiao, Rios and Juan Manuel Lopez are some of the recent names that Bob Arum has made into house hold names, at least in the homes of those who are more than casual boxing fans. Despite of that and their state of the art over head score board, I have to admit that Golden Boy’s presentation of the Alvarez-Hatton championship fight was much better. Not only did Alvarez seemed to out draw Chavez Jr. by at least five thousand fans, the atmosphere at the “Canelo” coming out party was unlike anything I had ever seen at a boxing match.
Even though my seat was better in the Chavez Jr. press section, having Golden Boy set me up in the way back of the floor area turned out to be a blessing in disguise when i was front row for the Banda and Norteño bands that played through out the night. The crowd was a rowdy one that reacted to everything inside the ring even if Alvarez-Hatton did not have as much action as Chavez Jr.-Zbik.
Top Rank did have a better undercard.
*It seems now that for Chavez Jr. all roads lead to Cotto in October. In typical Top Rank fashion, Arum will pit two of his fighters against each other. The championship fight is shock full of story lines. As it has been since two men got bare-chested and began to punch each other in the face, the long in the tooth champion will be fed to the young lion on the rise. Cotto, who in his own right has been an exceptional fighter as he has captured titles in the light welter, welter and super welter divisions, will try to climb to his fourth weight division and attempt to capture yet another title. The twenty-five year old Chavez Jr. will face with out a doubt the toughest challenge of his career even if he will undoubtedly be the much bigger man in the ring and of course, the ever present Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry. That alone is enough to make it a PPV block buster which Arum is vying for.
With a win over Cotto, Chavez Jr. might be able to some what legitimize a career that has been critiqued from the beginning for in a sense riding the coattails of his legendary father. For Cotto, a loss might mean the end of his career but a win adds another title to his collection but not much more since he is widely considered the much better and more accomplished fighter.
*Chavez Jr’s mandatory challenger is the former title challenger Marco Antonio “Veneno” Rubio. Before Rubio, I am sure that the WBC will afford the “Son of a Legend” a voluntary defense or two and that is where Cotto steps in. Eventually we would have to presume that Chavez Jr. will have to face Rubio. That can very easily turn into a very long night for “Julito” since Rubio, although not that much better than Chavez Jr. in the skills department, does hit hard, can take a lot of punishment and has way more experience than the still green Julio Cesar Junior. I hope that fight happens early in 2012 since I think it will be a barn burner for as long as it lasts.
*One thing that I did notice during the post fight presser after the Chavez Jr.-Zbik fight is that many of the media weren’t calling for an Alvarez-Chavez Jr. match up. Now, the name that the majority of the media wanted to see Chavez Jr. face was Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez. Many believe that Martinez should be the mandatory for Chavez Jr. since the WBC in a sense stripped him of the title when HBO denied Zbik as an opponent for the Argentinean earlier this year. The WBC then named Martinez an “Emeritus” champion at middleweight. According to the rules of the WBC, it states that an “Emeritus” champion can challenge for a title at any time. Does that mean that Martinez can challenge for the title before Rubio who is the #1 mandatory challenger? It seems as it does but if you would to judge it by the history of the WBC, I would expect for the Mr. Sulaiman to do what pleases him the most as well as what fills the coffers of the World Boxing Council.
*Earlier this week it was reported that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is coming back to the ring after a thirteen month hiatus to face off against the newly minted WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz on September 17th. More likely the bout will take place in Las Vegas. For as long as I can remember, the Saturday closes to September 16th is usually reserved for a huge Mexican Independence fight card held in the city of sin. Does Golden Boy Promotions really expect for the Mexican fight fan to get behind Victor Ortiz? Despite his brown skin as his south of the border last name, I have never considered Ortiz a “Mexican” fighter. It is rumored that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will also be included on the fight card. Ironically, Alvarez, who looks like an Irish lad with his freckled face and red head, is actually considered more Mexican being from a small town in Jalisco than the brown skinned Ortiz who grew up in Kansas.
*In closing, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the friends and family of two time world champion Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez who passed away earlier this week at the young age of forty-five after a long battle with cancer. I never had the pleasure to formerly meeting Hernandez or speaking to him although I had seen him plenty of times at various fight cards through out southern California. I regret never getting to speak to him. One story that I remember about Hernandez is when Antonio Margarito once told me that the great Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez was the one that anointed Hernandez with the nick name of “Chicanito”. How much truth that story holds, I don’t know, but I would like to think that it really happened that way.