by Hans Olson
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
WBC Middleweight Champion
Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank
Key Wins: Peter Manfredo Jr. (TKO5); Sebastian Zbik (W12); John Duddy (W12)
Key Losses: None
Note: Although Chavez defeated Troy Rowland in a 2009 bout, it was later changed to a “No-Contest” after Chavez tested positive for having used an illegal diuretic. Chavez took the banned substance Furosemide while cutting weight.
Strengths: Chavez Jr. made great strides in his most recent TKO stoppage win over Peter Manfredo Jr.; he boxed effectively from the outside showing improved ring generalship and poise throughout the contest. Chavez looked superb physically; his conditioning looking better than it has looked in a while. These key elements are to the credit of trainer Freddie Roach and strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza. Chavez’ best weapon is his bludgeoning left-hook to the body, a punch that can be an ender to any fight, at any time. Overall, he doesn’t possess otherworldly power, but he is a strong puncher. Chavez also has a great chin, but one that is sure to be tested against Marco Antonio Rubio, who will be without a doubt his toughest opposition(and hardest puncher) he’s faced.
Weaknesses: Chavez has only over the last year or so faced a good level of competition. The good thing? He has adjusted properly with each progressive fight. Against Rubio, we’ll see how much he has improved since Manfredo. Additionally, Chavez gets hit way more than he should. These defensive lapses will hurt as time moves forward.
This could hurt as early as Saturday night.
What He Needs to do to Win: Chavez needs to fight a perfect fight against Marco Antonio Rubio. He needs to do so, because Marco Antonio Rubio can, as he showed against David Lemieux, turn a fight around in an instant. If Rubio gets Chavez in trouble the way did with Lemieux…we’ll see a similar ending. By fighting what I call a “perfect” fight, Chavez will need to do the opposite of what Lemieux did. He’ll have to fight the fight that Kelly Pavlik did back in February of 2009 when he defeated Rubio. He has to be patient and break Rubio down. It’s not easy to do, but if Chavez fights said perfect fight—and doesn’t let his lack of defense become too much of a liability—he can get a decision victory.
Marco Antonio Rubio
Key Wins: David Lemieux (TKO7); Jose Luis Zertuche (TKO6); Enrique Ornelas (W12);
Key Losses: Kelly Pavlik (TKO9); Kassim Ouma (L12)
Strengths: Marco Antonio Rubio is a certified fighter’s fighter in every aspect of the phrase. He’s tough, gritty, and has will for days with underrated boxing ability. Against David Lemieux, he was able to weather the storm and eventually break the young powerhouse with his counters and power punching ability. Rubio is very heavy handed, possessing what many refer to as “long power.” His build and ability to fight tall, along with his counter-punching ability can be destructive for pressure fighters. Although Chavez isn’t necessarily a balls-to-the-wall pressure fighter, he does do most of his best work punching in volume to win rounds. Rubio has shown that he can withstand said pressure, and this bodes well for him in this fight. He’s also a tried and true, experienced pugilist. Against a younger fighter like Chavez, that could be key.
Weaknesses: Rubio doesn’t have the fastest hands in the world, and although Chavez isn’t necessarily a speed demon, he will one-up Marco in that department. As much as Marco can dictate the pace of a fight, he can at times be too inactive when it comes to letting his hands go. There have also been issues in the past weight-wise (he failed to make weight in his last fight against Matt Vanda).
What He Needs to do to Win: If he comes into the fight in shape and matches Chavez’ activity rate…his chances of winning will rise considerably. Basically, Rubio just needs to be himself. He can’t let Jr. get comfortable at any point. He needs to control the ring, set the pace, and let Julio fall into the traps he’ll set up. If he fights as well as he has in recent fights, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Prediction: Marco Antonio Rubio TKO8 in a career defining performance.
Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @hansolson