Chavez is ready to move up but isn’t really a prospect
After 40 professional fights, it looks as if it’s finally time to advance Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to meaningful fights.
How meaningful depends on how serious Chavez’s promoter Bob Arum is when he says he’d like to see his Mexican cash cow face the likes of Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao.
Chavez, who won a unanimous decision against Luciano Cuello in Tijuana on Saturday, would love to face either superstar.
“I’m looking forward to those challenges,” Chavez (39-0-1, 29 knockouts) said after winning the competitive 10-rounder by scores of 98-92, 96-94 and 96-95.
Either fight would do huge numbers in terms of ticket sales and pay-per-view buys. De La Hoya might be shot and he could announce his retirement any day but he remains the best-known boxer in the U.S. Pacquiao is probably the world’s most popular fighter.
And Chavez Jr.? Well, he has his father’s last name and with it the legion of Mexican fans who followed Chavez Sr.’s hall-of-fame career.
But just because the 23 year old has a built-in fan base doesn’t mean he’s a completely built-up prize fighter.
True, he’s been carefully matched and developed by Arum and Co., but Chavez has more than just a famous last name.
“Junior” has solid technique, balance and footwork.
He doesn’t possess one-shot knockout power but he’s an accurate puncher who delivers damaging blows with maximum leverage.
He throws a textbook left hook, cross and uppercut. His left to the body reminds many of his old man’s signature punch.
He has a good chin and he stays relaxed before and during the fight, as well as between rounds.
He’s not a bad fighter
However, despite his youth and impressive record, Chavez shouldn’t even be considered a real prospect.
Alfred Angulo, Deandre Lattimore and Vanes Martirosyan are real junior middleweight prospects.
If you think Chavez is a prospect, ask yourself how he would fare against anyone of those three.
The young man had his hands full with Cuello, an undefeated, but unheralded fighter from Argentina.
Cuello (23-1, nine KOs) didn’t have much power and he was so undersized next to his 6-foot foe that he looked like a junior welterweight.
And yet, after dropping the first two rounds, the little guy held his own with Chavez for eight straight rounds of bloody phone-booth infighting.
The 96-94 and 96-95 scorecards were a better indication of Saturday’s fight than the 98-92 tally, which highlights Chavez’s many shortcomings.
The young man is not a defensive wizard.
He has average hand and foot speed.
He doesn’t have much physical strength.
He can be out-jabbed, outworked and outmaneuvered by moderately talented boxers.
As bad as De La Hoya looked against Pacquiao, the 36-year-old veteran would have his way with Chavez.
To suggest a Pacquiao-Chavez fight is almost disrespectful to the Filipino icon.
So is there anyone who Chavez can step up against who would want to take the fight and would make for a competitive, high-profile ticket-selling event?
Ronald Hearns, who was knocked out by Harry Joe Yorgey Saturday night, was just eliminated from the mix.
But there was one other fighter who Arum mentioned as a potential Chavez opponent: John Duddy.
The popular Irish middleweight, rated No. 10 by THE RING, is bright, affable, undefeated and under-talented. He has better legs, slightly faster hands and a harder left hook than Chavez but he eats more punches and is prone to cuts.
It would be an entertaining, toss-up fight that could pack ’em in at Madison Square Garden on St. Patrick Day weekend or at Staples Center on Cinco De Mayo weekend.
No more Cuellos are necessary. Chavez is as good as he’s going to get.
Stay away from Yorgey, and go straight to Duddy.
It would be a Chavez Jr. fight worth watching.
Doug Fischer can be reached at [email protected]