By: William Holmes
Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. and Nonito Donaire are the two biggest names under contract with Top Rank Promotions not named Manny Pacquiao, and have the potential to be major PPV draws in the near future. They are also two stars who have opponents in their weight class that fans would love to see fight, but at the time appears unlikely due to perceived issues between promoters. Fans would love to see Chavez take on Sergio Martinez and Donaire take on Guillermo Rigondeaux, those fights aren’t likely to happen anytime soon. Instead Chavez will take on the tough and underrated Marco Antonio Rubio and Donaire will take on Wilfredo Vasquez Jr.
A preview of Saturday’s HBO card follows below.
Nonito Donaire, Jr. (27-1) vs. Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. (21-1); Super Bantamweight
Donaire and Vazquez both come from boxing families. Donaire’s brother, Glenn, was also a professional boxer and Donaire was previously trained by his father Nonito Donaire, Sr. Vazquez’s father was a former world champion as Bantamweight, Super Bantamweight, and Featherweight.
Vazquez is an oddity, in that he was the first ever world champion to hold a belt despite never competing in an amateur bout, and was the third father-son duo to ever be capture world championships. He first won the WBO Super Bantamweight title in February of 2010 against the then undefeated Filipino boxer Marvin Sonsona. He successfully defended the title twice before running into the ultra tough and legendary Jorge Arce. Vazquez was winning the earlier rounds again Arce, but faded late in the fight and was unable to handle Arce’s onslaught. His last fight was an easy 3rd round KO over Roberto Carlos Levya in October of 2011.
Vazquez has considerable power, only three have his fights have failed to go to the distance. He has the boxing pedigree and family name, but his heart and ability to go the distance is still questionable. Vazquez was a heavy 10-1 favorite over Jorge Arce and many thought he would steamroll the legend. Vazquez took a heavy beating towards the later rounds, and his father was forced to throw in the towel to save his son.
Nonito Donaire is in the top five on many pound for pound lists in the sport of boxing. Donaire has uncanny speed, footwork, and accuracy in his punches, and is exciting to watch. Donaire is the same height as Vazquez, but will have a two inch reach advantage on Saturday night. Saturday will be Donaire’s first fight as a Super Bantamweight, and he has steadily climbed up the weight divisions since he was a champion in the flyweight division. Donaire’s lone loss was his second professional bout in 2001, and he’s been undefeated since. Donaire’s first major victory was over the then undefeated Vic Darchinyan in July of 2007. Since then he has blasted every opponent he’s faced.
Donaire won the WBC and WBO bantamweight title with a highlight reel knockout of Fernando Montiel in February of 2011, but was unimpressive in his victory over the smaller and super flyweight champion Omar Andres Narvaez in October of 2011.
Donaire is the heavy favorite, and deservedly so, but don’t sleep on Vazquez. Prior to his loss to Arce Vazquez had a lot of hype, and his stock has taken a considerable hit since then. This will be by far Vazquez’s biggest fight to date, and a loss will severely hinder his chances for challenging for a title in the future. Donaire should win, but the early rounds will be close.
Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (44-0-1) vs. Marco Antonio Rubio (53-5-1); Middleweight
No current boxer has a bigger name and legend to live up to than Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. Many accuse Chavez of fighting easy competition, but the criticism isn’t fair. Going undefeated in forty four fights is impressive, even if you’ve been fighting tomato cans. While Chavez has yet to face middleweight kingpin Sergio Martinez, his list of recent opponents does not reveal any pushovers. Chavez won the middleweight title from the undefeated Sebastian Zbik in June of 2011. He beat the tough veteran Peter Manfredo Jr. by decision in November of 2011. The combined record of Chavez’s last ten opponents is 288-31-2. Hard to argue that all ten of his past opponents are tomato cans or pushovers.
Thirty one of Chavez’s fights have ended in KO or TKO, but only three of his last ten have ended by KO or TKO. Chavez doesn’t have overwhelming power or speed, but his overall ability as a boxer is unquestionably world class. The most interesting thing to watch with Chavez is to see how he looks when he weighs in on Friday. He has had problems making weight before, even having a prior victory declared a no contest because of use of a diuretic. The harder it is for Chavez to make weight, the harder it will be for him to win on Saturday.
Marco Antonio Rubio is best known for his upset victory over the then undefeated David Lemieux in Montreal, Canada in April of 2011. The last time Rubio fought for a world title he lost to Kelly Pavlik in February of 2009. Since then he has gone 10-0, with only one of those victories going the full distance. The longer the fight goes, the less the chances of Rubio pulling off another upset victory becomes.
Rubio will be no easy victory for Chavez. He was losing to Lemieux before coming back in the seventh round and scoring the TKO victory. Rubio has heart, and knockout power, and can end Chavez’s title reign with one punch. Chavez should win, especially since a majority of the fans in Texas will be supporting him. However, Rubio defeated Lemieux in his hometown of Montreal, so he’s used to the fans being against him. Chavez would be wise to not look past this fight.