BAD COMPANY: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Marco Antonio Rubio Preview


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Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., AKA “The Thing That Should Not Be,” returns to San Antonio tonight, perhaps in a stretch limo, to face veteran powerpuncher Marco Antonio Rubio in a scheduled 12 at the Alamodome for the UNICEF middleweight championship of the world.

Since his disastrous no-contest against Troy Rowland in 2009—as boring as an Andre Ward bout, perhaps—Chavez has delivered nothing but the goods in his last four starts, including shootouts against John Duddy and Sebastian Zbik. Despite his honest efforts in the ring, however, Chavez continues to suffer the barbs of fantasists all over the world who would rather see a P-4-P juggernaut trample 15-1 underdogs.

This atmosphere of knowing boxing snobbery overshadows the fact that Chavez is not nearly as bad as advertised. Ditto his competition. Sebastian Zbik, whom Chavez squeaked by last summer to earn his dubious title, is, in fact, on par with the latest string of Sergio Martinez opponents: Sergei Dzinziruk, Darren Barker, and, scheduled for a public flogging in March, Matthew Macklin.

Certainly Chavez, Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, elicits some strange emotions. Sergio Martinez, for example, has been pining over Chavez like an obsessed lover from a Victorian novel, Wuthering Heights, say, and this brand of Chavez hysteria is only slightly less ghastly than the Fantasy League crew who have yet to figure out that most “world championships” are fugazi, most fights are predetermined through cynical matchmaking, and most of what happens in boxing happens because of economic considerations.

As for this bout, if Chavez, whose training camp seemed a bit more disordered than usual, underestimates Rubio, he could be in for a surprise. Because Marco Antonio Rubio, 53-5-1 (46), is an honest-to-goodness professional prizefighter, one who has never been allowed to sashay along the crooked corridors of power. Does this mean that he is the fastest, strongest, or most talented boxer in North America? No. But Rubio, 31, has sharpened his craft over the years to the point where he can make the most out of his attributes. Over the course of his career, Rubio has swapped punches with clubfighters, no-hopers, journeymen, trialhorses, fringe contenders, titleholders, circuit fighters, perennials, prospects, and world-class operators. If a man can somehow forestall or avoid one of the strangest paradoxes in boxing—the fact that a fighter diminishes steadily over time while simultaneously honing his technique—then he can wake up one day after dozens of bouts with a certain command in the ring.

Take, for example, how composed Rubio was during his KO victory over former “Prospect Watch” mainstay David Lemieux last April. Poor Lemieux looked like he ought to be baling hay in Saskatchewan after four or five rounds. When Rubio finally lowered the boom in the seventh—after riding out a few rough spots—it underlined the importance of experience in the ring. Rubio never panicked, conserved his energy, and picked his spots. But Rubio, who lost two previous title shots–against Kassim Ouma and Kelly Pavlik—is nowhere near elite. Among his most exploitable flaws are iffy defense, a tendency to drop his left after jabbing, and a dangerous habit of retreating in a straight line. Against Kelly Pavlik in 2009, this last shortcoming almost saw him get decapitated early. Rubio, Torreon, Coahuila de Zaragoza, Mexico, seemed unable to judge distance properly against Pavlik, a hardpunching workhorse in the ring, and was caught repeatedly by long power shots while backing into the ropes.

Chavez is faster, younger, and more athletic. His defense, however, is sloppy, and his balance still needs some work. Slinking along the perimeter of the ring against Manfredo last November, Chavez, 25, showed he can be more than just a clumsy pressure fighter with a neat left hook to the body. How much more than that who can say? But he will likely benefit from using the same tactics against Rubio, who prefers to wait for openings against an aggressive opponent. In addition, Rubio is also the first puncher Chavez has ever faced, and if the two decide to meet in ring center, heads-up, to mill in the trenches, Chavez might come out second best.

Beyond the ring, Chavez, 44-0-1-1 (31), may be a dilettante or a bourgeois slumming it out in the beak-busting business, but between the ropes, he works as hard as anybody, and, in fact, harder than many who have mastered the strange knack of generating fanfare without fans. If Chavez brings his silver spoon to the Alamodome, Rubio will try his best to knock it out of his mouth and into the third row. He will get his chance–perhaps more than one– tonight.

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SEE ALSO:

Problem Child: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Peter Manfredo Jr. Preview

Ordinary Heroes: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr W12 Sebastian Zbik

Delivering The Goods: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. W12 John Duddy

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Tags: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Marco Antonio Rubio MIDDLEWEIGHTS Sebastian Zbik SERGIO MARTINEZ

  • JohnPaulFutbol

    CA,

    what a return! Great preview, some good stuff in there. Zoolander certainly has been pining over my boy Chavez, and for good reason. Chavez is badass! Almost. He’s fun to watch more often than not and he’s even funner to root for. If I’m honest, I don’t know who to pick in this one. But, I’m rolling with Chavez. Hell if he took training serious and didn’t struggle with his weight all his fights would be 15-1 squash matches. Anyway, I need to get back to Njal’s Saga….it’s great to have you back CA, I was worried.

  • JohnPaulFutbol

    CA,

    what a return! Great preview, some good stuff in there. Zoolander certainly has been pining over my boy Chavez, and for good reason. Chavez is badass! Almost. He’s fun to watch more often than not and he’s even funner to root for. If I’m honest, I don’t know who to pick in this one. But, I’m rolling with Chavez. Hell if he took training serious and didn’t struggle with his weight all his fights would be 15-1 squash matches. Anyway, I need to get back to Njal’s Saga….it’s great to have you back CA, I was worried.

  • safesideOTR

    ah you’re back — where’ve you been man? Don’t do that to us, we were all worried…..tut tut…..

    I haven’t seen Chavez fight for years – I wrote him off back when he was a going through the motions against club fighters. If he’s improved, fair play to him. Doesn’t seem to have done so via the “conditioner” route, which usually marks vast improvement thes days.

    I give Macklin a chance at Martinez, too. He’s a strong boy.

  • safesideOTR

    explains vast improvement even…..

  • safesideOTR

    ah you’re back — where’ve you been man? Don’t do that to us, we were all worried…..tut tut…..

    I haven’t seen Chavez fight for years – I wrote him off back when he was a going through the motions against club fighters. If he’s improved, fair play to him. Doesn’t seem to have done so via the “conditioner” route, which usually marks vast improvement thes days.

    I give Macklin a chance at Martinez, too. He’s a strong boy.

  • safesideOTR

    explains vast improvement even…..

  • Michael Nelson

    I’m not sure what to think about this one, CA. Sink or swim time, I guess. Rubio’s definitely the stiffest test Jr.’s faced since Molina – difference is, Rubio can punch.

    Looking forward to it.

  • dennis wise

    Great to read your work again. I was afraid Gary Shaw and Lou Dibella put a hit out on you or something.

    If Chavez trained I’ll take him over Rubio. But who knows how well prepared his is?

  • Michael Nelson

    I’m not sure what to think about this one, CA. Sink or swim time, I guess. Rubio’s definitely the stiffest test Jr.’s faced since Molina – difference is, Rubio can punch.

    Looking forward to it.

  • dennis wise

    Great to read your work again. I was afraid Gary Shaw and Lou Dibella put a hit out on you or something.

    If Chavez trained I’ll take him over Rubio. But who knows how well prepared his is?

  • jet79

    Hi CA,

    You touched on something here that puzzles me: why would anybody, outside of those with a vested financial interest, clamour for the Zoolander fight? It’s not competitive, tells us what we know already; and while perhaps Zoolander gets back his belt, he was naive enough to take Suliaman at his word and lose it in the first place. I’m all for those rare moments of justice in boxing, but getting a kid whooped on because he fought for a title isn’t justice. Let’s just enjoy the kid’s fights, and respect that he’s earned just a little bit of the successes he’s achieved.

    Welcome back.

  • jet79

    Hi CA,

    You touched on something here that puzzles me: why would anybody, outside of those with a vested financial interest, clamour for the Zoolander fight? It’s not competitive, tells us what we know already; and while perhaps Zoolander gets back his belt, he was naive enough to take Suliaman at his word and lose it in the first place. I’m all for those rare moments of justice in boxing, but getting a kid whooped on because he fought for a title isn’t justice. Let’s just enjoy the kid’s fights, and respect that he’s earned just a little bit of the successes he’s achieved.

    Welcome back.

  • thenonpareil

    @JohnPaulFutbol

    Hi JPF,

    thanks…this piece isn’t very good, I don’t think, but I’m rusty after not having written anything since December 18th….

    I don’t know what everyone else is watching–re: Chavez–but I see a guy who seems very much aware of putting on a good show most of the time. Moderately talented, yes, and a product of the “Build ‘em Up School,” naturally, but guess what? That describes 99% of all fighters today. I guess some people are only happy if Norberto Bravo, Harry Yorgey, and Brina Minto are getting put into comas by special talents as chosen by HBO. It took Chavez 40+ fights to get on HBO and he drew, reportedly, 14,000 people to the Alamodome. That is more than every Andre Berto-headlined card put together combined. Again, this is a question of “branding,” affirmation, and boxing snobbery…whatever that means.

    Is Njal’s Saga a rap album?

  • thenonpareil

    @safesideOTR

    Hi Harrison,

    technical difficulties have kept me out of action for a bit, but I’m back, I guess, for a little while at least. Although I have to admit that not having a computer for over a month was sort of refreshing. I got to read more and I didn’t have to suffer the torments of the boxing media…two big pluses in my book.

    Chavez, I admit, fascinates me to no end and has been the generator for many good one-liners. (I highly recommend that you read the links in the piece above to see me at my venomous best. Or is that worst?) He’s also allowed me to riff on the absurd “starmaking” obsession of the U.S. pseudo-press who insist, idiotically, that guys like Andre Ward are stars despite the fact that few people want to see them.

    By the way, I’ve watched (and paid for those independent p-p-vs) just about every Chavez bout of the last four or five years. But I didn’t bother watching Dawson-Hopkins live…..

    Macklin put up a good fight against Felix Sturm, but I think Sturm is on the slide. I don’t see Macklin doing much against Martinez, whose a little too improvisatory, I think, for him. But I hope for a good fight and if Macklin can pull it off, I’d be very happy for the underdog.

  • thenonpareil

    @safesideOTR

    Oh, and if anybody needs a conditioner, it’s definitely Chavez!

  • thenonpareil

    @Michael Nelson

    Hi MN,

    not a bad fight at all, I would say, although I guess some people would still rather see Ward put someone in a triangle armbar…I expected Chavez to box, but he decided to go for the strange “6’1″ Guy Bending Over to Infight” strategy. I guess to keep Rubio from extending his right hand from the outside. At this point, reading anything about Chavez in the press is hopeless, since he is now the irrational hobbyhorse of all ring geniuses.

  • thenonpareil

    @dennis wise

    Hi Dennis,

    thanks, man, I’ve definitely been out of the loop for a while. I can’t say I’ve missed very much, though, over the last month. To be honest, I think my “Real Steel” giveaway is still the biggest thing to happen in boxing in 2012.

    Anyway, Rubio showed some know-how, but Chavez came to grind him down and it worked for the most part. From what I can gather, Chavez is a fraud who didn’t get on HBO until his 44th fight and who can draw 14,000 fans and who beat the guy (Rubio) who beat the next big thing in middleweight boxing (Lemieux) and who actually tries to put on a show in the ring and who is not an obnoxious prick. I’m going to have to find my madstone to figure it all out.

  • thenonpareil

    @jet79

    Hi JT,

    Thanks for the welcome back.

    Not only did Martinez give up his dumb belt willingly (and, as you note, trust Sillyman to give it back to him), but he had nothing but warm and fuzzy things to say about Sillyman a few months ago. Martinez wants to fight Chavez because Martinez has no promoter and must piggyback on bigger names to get any kind of attention from people other than P-4-P mongers.

    Why anyone wants Martinez, the greatest middleweight since Ketchel, to face Chavez is anybody’s guess. A fake, fraud, spoiled clubfighter should be the last person Martinez targets, but, hey, this is boxing–why should anything make any sense?

    Chavez has played the game just like almost everybody else: build a resume on a bunch of ham n’ eggers and fight for some Ghost Adventures championship. It’s amazing how shocked and surprised people are about his route to limited success….as if 99% of fighters have done anything different. The difference between him and some of the superstars today is that people actually want to see him fight and will pay good money for tickets to his events. His name is only part of the reason people come out to see him, despite what Boxing Caliban types will misspell. He also works hard in the ring, is well-spoken, is a good-looking, and tries to make fights exciting most of the time. As I pointed out here before–no one gave a damn about Roberto Duran Jr. or Hector Camacho Jr.

  • thenonpareil

    @JohnPaulFutbol

    Hi JPF,

    thanks…this piece isn’t very good, I don’t think, but I’m rusty after not having written anything since December 18th….

    I don’t know what everyone else is watching–re: Chavez–but I see a guy who seems very much aware of putting on a good show most of the time. Moderately talented, yes, and a product of the “Build ‘em Up School,” naturally, but guess what? That describes 99% of all fighters today. I guess some people are only happy if Norberto Bravo, Harry Yorgey, and Brina Minto are getting put into comas by special talents as chosen by HBO. It took Chavez 40+ fights to get on HBO and he drew, reportedly, 14,000 people to the Alamodome. That is more than every Andre Berto-headlined card put together combined. Again, this is a question of “branding,” affirmation, and boxing snobbery…whatever that means.

    Is Njal’s Saga a rap album?

  • thenonpareil

    @safesideOTR

    Hi Harrison,

    technical difficulties have kept me out of action for a bit, but I’m back, I guess, for a little while at least. Although I have to admit that not having a computer for over a month was sort of refreshing. I got to read more and I didn’t have to suffer the torments of the boxing media…two big pluses in my book.

    Chavez, I admit, fascinates me to no end and has been the generator for many good one-liners. (I highly recommend that you read the links in the piece above to see me at my venomous best. Or is that worst?) He’s also allowed me to riff on the absurd “starmaking” obsession of the U.S. pseudo-press who insist, idiotically, that guys like Andre Ward are stars despite the fact that few people want to see them.

    By the way, I’ve watched (and paid for those independent p-p-vs) just about every Chavez bout of the last four or five years. But I didn’t bother watching Dawson-Hopkins live…..

    Macklin put up a good fight against Felix Sturm, but I think Sturm is on the slide. I don’t see Macklin doing much against Martinez, whose a little too improvisatory, I think, for him. But I hope for a good fight and if Macklin can pull it off, I’d be very happy for the underdog.

  • thenonpareil

    @safesideOTR

    Oh, and if anybody needs a conditioner, it’s definitely Chavez!

  • thenonpareil

    @Michael Nelson

    Hi MN,

    not a bad fight at all, I would say, although I guess some people would still rather see Ward put someone in a triangle armbar…I expected Chavez to box, but he decided to go for the strange “6’1″ Guy Bending Over to Infight” strategy. I guess to keep Rubio from extending his right hand from the outside. At this point, reading anything about Chavez in the press is hopeless, since he is now the irrational hobbyhorse of all ring geniuses.

  • thenonpareil

    @dennis wise

    Hi Dennis,

    thanks, man, I’ve definitely been out of the loop for a while. I can’t say I’ve missed very much, though, over the last month. To be honest, I think my “Real Steel” giveaway is still the biggest thing to happen in boxing in 2012.

    Anyway, Rubio showed some know-how, but Chavez came to grind him down and it worked for the most part. From what I can gather, Chavez is a fraud who didn’t get on HBO until his 44th fight and who can draw 14,000 fans and who beat the guy (Rubio) who beat the next big thing in middleweight boxing (Lemieux) and who actually tries to put on a show in the ring and who is not an obnoxious prick. I’m going to have to find my madstone to figure it all out.

  • thenonpareil

    @jet79

    Hi JT,

    Thanks for the welcome back.

    Not only did Martinez give up his dumb belt willingly (and, as you note, trust Sillyman to give it back to him), but he had nothing but warm and fuzzy things to say about Sillyman a few months ago. Martinez wants to fight Chavez because Martinez has no promoter and must piggyback on bigger names to get any kind of attention from people other than P-4-P mongers.

    Why anyone wants Martinez, the greatest middleweight since Ketchel, to face Chavez is anybody’s guess. A fake, fraud, spoiled clubfighter should be the last person Martinez targets, but, hey, this is boxing–why should anything make any sense?

    Chavez has played the game just like almost everybody else: build a resume on a bunch of ham n’ eggers and fight for some Ghost Adventures championship. It’s amazing how shocked and surprised people are about his route to limited success….as if 99% of fighters have done anything different. The difference between him and some of the superstars today is that people actually want to see him fight and will pay good money for tickets to his events. His name is only part of the reason people come out to see him, despite what Boxing Caliban types will misspell. He also works hard in the ring, is well-spoken, is a good-looking, and tries to make fights exciting most of the time. As I pointed out here before–no one gave a damn about Roberto Duran Jr. or Hector Camacho Jr.