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HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Andy Lee

By: William Holmes

With a record of 45-0, it’s fair to say Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is no longer fighting under his father’s shadow and has made a name for himself in the sport of boxing.

But until he’s fights Sergio Martinez, it’s also fair to say that Chavez might be a title holder, but he is not the true champion of the middleweight division.

On Saturday, Top Rank Promotions and Lou Dibella Promotions will match up two of their two fighters for Chavez’s WBC Middleweight title.

HBO will be showing a replay of last week’s controversial fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley before Saturday’s title fight.

The following is a preview of Andy Lee vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Andy Lee (28-1) vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (45-0); WBC Middleweight Title

It’s certainly refreshing to see two fighters who fight under different promoters fight for a world title. It’s even more refreshing when you realize one of those fighters is promoted by Top Rank.

Chavez is one of Top Rank’s prized fighters, and that’s certainly no surprised considering his father’s famous legacy.

Chavez did not have a lengthy amateur career, he only fought two amateur bouts. He has constantly been around boxing, and could be seen inside the ring before his father’s fights as a child. He started boxing professionally at the age of 17, and started in the super featherweight division.

He’s only 26, and has already fought in 47 fights. With that many fights under his belt, he is surely a veteran inside the ring.

Out of his 45 victories, 31 have come by KO or TKO. However, that statistic should be taken with a grain of salt. Only two of his past ten victories have come by way of KO or TKO, and one of them includes a questionable early stoppage against Peter Manfredo Jr.

Many claim that Chavez Jr. has had an easy path to the WBC title, and has not fought legitimate competition. That’s only half true, as he has fought tough competition since 2009. He beat and defeated a then undefeated Luciano Cuello in 2009, easily defeated John Duddy in 2010, squeaked out a majority decision against the undefeated Sebastian Zbik for the WBC Middleweight title in June of 2011, and most recently beat a very tough and game Marco Antonio Rubio in February of this year.

However, Chavez Jr. has never really impressed boxing aficionados to the point where they say he’s a truly elite fighter.

A victory over Andy Lee could change that perception.

Irish Andy Lee is trained by the legendary Emanuel Steward, and unlike Chavez Jr., has a length amateur background. He participated in the 2004 Summer Olympics and defeated Alfredo Angulo, but was unable to win a medal.

When Lee turned professional, he had a lot of hype, and many considered Lee to be the next great middleweight star. He’s a 6’2 southpaw, and physically presents a tough challenge for any opponent in the ring.

His ascent to the top was derailed in 2008 when he suffered a TKO defeat to Brian Vera in the seventh round. He was able to avenge that defeat with a decision victory over Brian Vera in October of 2011. Andy Lee’s other notable victories include a 10th round TKO victory over Willie Gibbs in 2008 and a 10th round TKO victory over Craig McEwan in 2011.

Of Lee’s 28 victories, 20 have come by way of KO or TKO. Six of his last ten victories have come by way of KO or TKO.

Observers may say Chavez Jr. had handpicked opponents so far in his career, but the same could be said of Lee.

If Chavez Jr. can apply the pressure and get past the jab of Andy Lee while fighting inside, he should have the advantage on Saturday. If Lee can use his jab to keep Chavez at bay, and pick his shots with accuracy and effectively, he will have the edge.

Both Chavez Jr. and Andy Lee will have well respected trainers in their corner in Freddie Roach and Emanuel Stewart. Saturday will likely play out like a chess match, and should be enjoyed by true fans of boxing.

It likely won’t end in a knockout, and since they’ll be fighting in Texas Chavez Jr. will have the crowd cheering him on. It’s no secret that the fans in attendance can often affect the way judges score a fight, and Saturday will be no different.

If Chavez Jr. doesn’t make any fatal mistakes on Saturday, he should win by decision, and hopefully fight Sergio Martinez next.

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