By Kirk Jackson
Last Saturday at the Staple Center in Los Angeles, thousands of fans cheered to the punches of rising star Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Accompanied by his legendary father Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., and lead by hall of fame trainer Freddie Roach, Chavez accomplished what many thought he would do since the beginning of his career.
Chavez captured championship gold, in the form of the WBC Middleweight Championship.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
This can be perceived in many ways depending on who you ask or from which angle you are looking at.
A championship should be celebrated and recognized as a great accomplishment, especially at the highest level of competitive pugilism. But as HBO analyst Max Kellerman points out, “A championship belt is more so used as a promotional tool nowadays”.
Basically stating, Chavez hasn’t really done anything out of the ordinary, and many people including myself, agrees with Kellerman’s opinion.
Not to take anything away from Sebastian Zbik or Chavez, but this event is apart of something that has been in the making since the beginning of Chavez’s career.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has carefully guided the young star, bringing him along slowly and matching him against questionably soft opposition. This past weekend was the icing on the cake.
Zbik is actually a good fighter, but not good enough to be a threat and is not necessarily a dangerous opponent.
From the weigh in, up to the actual night of the fight, Zbik was the smaller man even being outweighed by at least fifth teen pounds by Chavez on fight night who came into the ring weighing 180 pounds. That’s five pounds over the light heavy limit by the way.
Zbik although having a stellar amateur background, is not a powerful puncher. Coming into the fight he was undefeated with 30 wins, with only ten of his victories coming by way of knock out.
Zbik also has a recent history of fading late in fights, as he did against one of his last opponents Domenico Spada.
As for the fight itself, it was an entertaining affair. It was the fast hands and seasoning of Zbik vs. the determination and body punching of Chavez.
There were some close rounds, and some were difficult to score. Throughout the fight, Chavez would land the more authoritative punches and Zbik threw more and landed more punches. Zbik out landed Chavez ten out of the twelve rounds.
A fight that was even extending into the championship rounds, Chavez gained momentum and pulled away towards the end.
It was the will, body punching, and weight advantage that pulled through for Chavez. He forced Zbik into fighting a bar room styled fight, and made life difficult for Zbik.
It was essentially a war of attrition, with the stronger, larger, determined Chavez prevailing in the end.
Going forward, if I was a fan of Chavez I would not be too optimistic. There is much room for improvement, and with three fights under Freddie Roach and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, I haven’t seen much progress.
There were many moments in the fight, were Chavez looked like he was in limbo. He didn’t know whether he wanted to fight on the inside, or fight from the outside.
Ineffective from the outside, he eventually just settled with trying to make a it a war on the inside. The only problem is standing at 6’1” his height makes it difficult for him at time on the inside.
Foot work is another issue and something to work on in the future. It sets up offense and defense and will be a key component for Chavez going forward as he looked awkward at times in the ring.
Defensively Chavez appears to be very easy to hit, and is fortunate Zbik lacks punching power, because he caught Chavez with clean effective punches quite often.
Perhaps it is good fortune, or even better promotion and match making.
Going forward, many fans would love to see a match with Chavez and the lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.
The fight would be a huge event and a major step up in class for Chavez. As mentioned earlier many fans and boxing critics would love to see this fight happen, but I have a feeling Arum has other plans.