By Jackie Kallen
El Paso is all geared up for the showdown this weekend between Julio Cesar Chavez, jr. and Andy Lee. It’s obvious who the favorite is in this one. The Texans are solidly behind the son of one of boxing iconic legends. Many of them have no idea who the 28 year old Irish-born puncher is.
Photo: Chris Farina/ Top Rank
The truth is that I give Lee a chance here. He lives in Detroit now and is a tall southpaw middleweight. He has KOed almost 70% of his opponents and has a strong Chicago syndicate behind him. He is not a man to be overlooked or taken lightly. Not to mention the number of boxing upsets lately and the fact that Lee really, really wants (and needs) this win.
The WBC middleweight crown is something worth fighting for. In the past, Lee captured the NABA and NABF belts, but nothing compares to a world title. Beating Alex Bunema in a shut-out for the lesser belts was not quite the task that beating Chavez jr, will be. Bunema had already suffered seven losses. Chavez, jr. is undefeated in 45 fights.
The only other undefeated fighter that Lee has taken on was then 19-0 Craig McEwan last year. Lee wore him down, had him off his feet in the 9th and 10th rounds, and finished him in the final round. admittedly, McEwan is not on the level of Chavez, jr., but Lee came through in that one with no nerves or apprehension.
The only blemish on Lee’s record is a 2008 loss to Brian Vera at Mohegan Sun. Lee had Vera down in the first round, but got caught in the 7th and was stopped for the only time in his career. He managed to coax Vera back into the ring seven months ago in Atlantic City and gave him a solid beating to avenge the only loss on his record.
Now Emanuel Steward’s pride and joy will face his toughest test to date. Chavez, jr. is two years younger, nearly as tall and has a KO percentage to rival Lee’s. He has beaten guys like John Duddy, Marco Antonio Rubio and Peter Manfredo, jr. with ease. Sebastian Zbik gave him a decent fight last year and so did Luciano Cuello in 2009. But no one has of yet unlocked the secret of how to beat the undefeated slugger.
Bettors should take a look at the 4-1 odds and remember the Bradley “victory” the other night. Anything can happen in boxing. Some feel that Chavez jr is looking past Lee to the alleged fight with Sergio Martinez in September. That could be a tactical mistake.
I believe the expected 40,000 fans on hand will boost Chavez jr.’s confidence. It’s going to be difficult to locate an Andy Lee supporter in that crowd. It is totally a “home town” advantage for Chavez, jr., even though he actually lives in Mexico. El Paso is the next best thing.
I kind of wish I could be there this weekend to see if Andy Lee will rise to the occasion. He is a good kid who has been working hard at his craft since he turned pro six years ago. Is he capable of beating the middleweight division’s top star? Hard to say. On paper–no. But if you happened to see Mike Jones get pummled by 37-year old Randall Bailey last weekend, you know that it can happen.
Let the best man win.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen