By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California will be the host site to a Showtime Championship Boxing card featuring the often controversial and highly scrutinized Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Chavez has recently split with Top Rank Promotions after signing with the elusive boxing advisor Al Haymon. Chavez has since claimed that he is recommitted to the sport of boxing, and his new trainer, Joe Goossen, has reiterated Chavez’s claims that his fighter is now fully committed to training.
Junior welterweight prospect Amir Imam will also be fighting on Saturday’s card as he puts his undefeated record on the line against the two loss Walter Castillo.
The following is a preview of both of the televised bouts.
Amir Imam (16-0) vs. Walter Castillo (25-2); Junior Welterweights
The first matchup is between two junior welterweights with impressive records, but one prospect is the real deal and the other is a pretender.
Amir Imam and Walter Castillo are in their athletic primes, twenty-four and twenty-six years old respectively. Imam will have close to a three- inch height advantage over Castillo, and will also have the power and hand speed advantage. Imam also has a reach of seventy-four inches, which is very long for the junior welterweight division. Castillo has eighteen knockouts, including four of his past five fights, while Imam has fourteen knockouts, including four of his past five fights.
Imam had a successful amateur career and was close to making it to the US Olympic Team. However, he lost to Errol Spence in the US Olympic boxing trials and failed to qualify. Spence is considered by most boxing experts to have the highest ceiling of all the members of the 2012 US Olympic boxing team.
A close look at their records reveals that neither boxer has faced the top echelon of the junior welterweight division, but Castillo’s record is the less impressive of the two.
Castillo has only fought outside of South America one time, and that was in his last fight, in which he faced an opponent with a record of 14-18-3.
His two losses have come by split decision. One was to Vicente Mosquera, who is probably the best boxer that Castillo has faced in his career. The other loss was to Eligio Palacios in his pro debut. Palacios now has a record of 6-20. Castillo has no notable wins against a well-known opponent.
Imam’s record is also lacking the big victory over a well-known opponent, but he does have some decent wins on his resume. He has defeated the likes of Fidel Maldonado Jr., Yordenis Ugas, and Jared Robinson. His best wins were against Ugas, who had a good amateur career and Maldonado Jr.
Imam did taste the canvas for the first time in his career against Maldonado, but he was able to dig deep and score four knockdowns and win the bout.
Castillo would seem to have little to no chance of beating Imam, but he also appears to have the power to shock many and score an upset knockout.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (48-1-1) vs. Andrzej Fonfara (26-3); Light Heavyweights
The main event of the evening will be between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Andrzej Fonfara in the light heavyweight division.
It has been over a year since Chavez last fought and he has only fought two times in two-and-a-half years. Fonfara, however, has been very active, and has had five fights in the same time span.
Fonfara will have an inch-and-a-half height advantage over Chavez, and also a three-inch reach advantage. He is also two years younger than Chavez, but both are still in their athletic prime.
Fonfara also has an edge in amateur experience over Chavez. Fonfara had a successful amateur career that includes a gold medal in the Polish Junior Championships. Chavez only had two amateur fights, but he does come from the most famous and popular boxing family in Mexico and has been around the sport of boxing for his entire life.
Chavez has a history with trouble making weight and a lack of dedication to training. He now claims that has changed and he is re-dedicated to the sport with new trainer Joe Goossen, but Chavez started his career as a super featherweight and the light heavyweight division is the heaviest he has ever fought at.
Chavez’s lone loss came to Sergio Martinez and he has defeated the likes of Brian Vera, Andy Lee, Marco Antonio Rubio, Peter Manfredo Jr., Sebastian Zbik, Billy Lyell, and John Duddy. However, Chavez is not known for his knockout power, as he only has one stoppage victory in his past five fights, and it’s unlikely he will become more powerful in the highest weight class he has ever fought at.
Fonfara has three losses on his record, and they have come to Adonis “Superman” Stevenson in a close and action-packed bout, as well as to Derrick Findley and Eberto Medina early on in his career. His notable wins include Doudou Ngumbu, Samuel Miler, Gabriel Campillo, Tommy Karpency, and Glen Johnson. Fonfara is also better suited for the light heavyweight division and is the naturally bigger man in the ring.
Very few boxers can get away with only fighting once a year, and they are usually the elite boxers. Chavez is a good boxer, but he isn’t elite and he certainly shouldn’t be considered an elite boxer in the light heavyweight division.
The time off might hurt Chavez, and he will now be in the ring against a formidable foe with a good chin. If the fight goes the distance, it’s quite possible Chavez gets the nod based on name value only, but he will need to be at his best if he wants to defeat Fonfara.
But this writer thinks Chavez has taken too much time off from the sport in the past two years, and that the active Fonfara will therefore win by a close decision.