by Hans Olson
Saturday’s WBC Middleweight Championship bout in Texas should prove to be an exciting dustup. Both Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Peter Manfredo Jr. are routinely in exciting fights; what they may lack in world class skill is usually offset by their ability to thrill. Let’s take a closer look at each fighter, starting with “The Son of a Legend.”
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
WBC Middleweight Champion
Key Wins: Sebastian Zbik (W12), John Duddy (W12), Luciano Leonel Cuello (W10)
Key Losses: None, although his 2009 win against Troy Rowland was later ruled a “No-Contest” after Chavez tested positive for having used an illegal diuretic. Chavez had taken the banned substance Furosemide to help make weight.
Strengths: Chavez Jr. possesses the same will and desire as his father, the great Julio Cesar Chavez. Though he many never be the fighter his father was, he does have some underrated ability. Chavez has a destructive left-hook to the body, without a doubt the best punch he throws. His power is decent, having knocked out 30 of 45 opponents. His greatest asset though, may be his chin—which has proven to be a key factor in his style of fighting. Having world class trainer Freddie Roach, along with strength and conditioning guru Alex Ariza in his corner has also a big advantage for Chavez Jr.
Weaknesses: One issue with Chavez is his tendency to fight unnecessarily on the inside. If Chavez used his height more, he would be much less likely to take the punishment he so willingly embraces. As he moves up in class, he’ll no doubt need to make this adjustment. We’ll see what he does against Manfredo on Saturday.
What He Needs to do to Win: Chavez needs to fight behind his jab, boxing as cleanly and effectively as he can control himself to. Manfredo without a doubt wants to make it an ugly slugfest. Although Chavez would certainly welcome it, it would be in his best interest not to. If he’s able to break Manfredo down, he could end the fight with a body shot late. He’ll have the fans on his side as well, so going the distance can’t hurt him so long as he dictates the fight.
Peter Manfredo Jr.
Key Wins: Miguel Angel Espino (W5), Alfonso Gomez (W7), David Banks (W10), Matt Vanda (W10), Daniel Edouard (W10).
Key Losses: Joe Calzaghe (TKO3), Jeff Lacy (L10), Sakio Bika (TKO3)
Strengths: Manfredo is an all-action fighter who’ll take 2 to give 1. No matter the circumstance, he’ll always keep fighting. He does have under appreciated boxing ability, as well as a keen boxing mind. He does many little things that can frustrate opponents during a fight, and he has a unique ability to control the pace between the ropes.
Weaknesses: Manfredo is an old 30, having boxed 247 rounds in 43 fights. He’s been stopped early, he’s come up short late. When he’s stepped up against better opposition, he’s fallen short. The question Saturday, is if Chavez is another step up in class—or if Manfredo himself is the step up.
What He Needs to Do to Win: Manfredo needs to make it a brawl—and he needs to hurt Chavez in the process. In Houston, TX, Manfredo will not get a decision—even if the fight is close. He’ll need to dominate Chavez from the outset using his volume punching and body attack to wear down the young champ. If he can frustrate Chavez enough—and not take as badly as he gives—he’ll have a chance to pull the mild upset.
Prediction: Chavez Jr. W12 in a close, competetive (and mildy controversial) majority decision.
Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @hansolson