You Got to Work to Get Your Pay: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr-Andy Lee Preview


Who can forget the days when Emanuel Steward used to hype Andy Lee as a future heavyweight champion? Lee, 28, takes his first step toward that unlikely goal tonight when he faces mucho-maligned Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, for the Sweet-N-Kickin BBQ Sauce middleweight title.

The winner of this bout—by decree of a WBC contract—is supposed to face Sergio Martinez. That slip of paper, however, is probably worth as much as a Confederate dollar. Only a Lee victory, it seems, will make that proviso a reality.

Having been blamed for everything from cow mutilations to the Rockefeller Drug Laws to the current plight of the Euro Zone, Chavez, 26, returns to the ring and to the jibes of those who like to see pound-for-pound stalwarts pound 15-1 longshots into gory submission. This preference, in 2012, makes you an expert, a hardcore fan, or a dyslexic Comments Creature. Often, it is a combination of all three.

After establishing a solid reputation as a dilly-dallier and a gadfly, Chavez, who did not get a seat on the HBO gravy train until his 45th fight, claims to have gotten down to business in training for Lee. If so, then the Sun Bowl may be host to a solid scrap.

This fight, despite the baying of the usual hounds, is not a walkover. It will—gasp!—likely have action, which is a good thing, since thousands will be in attendance, and a crowd of that size usually gathers to be entertained. And Chavez is nearly always entertaining. Maybe Nielsen ratings prove it: according to Kevin Iole, Chavez has averaged 1.63 million viewers for HBO over his last three fights. (Sergio Martinez, on the other hand, has averaged 1.09 million over his last three fights. Still, try getting some to admit that Martinez is not a “star.” Before you know it, they will tear themselves away from their LCD monitors and hurl themselves onto their beds, where they will bury their begrimed noses in the matted fur of oversized P-4-P teddy bears.) Finally, Chavez, 45-0-1-1 (31), will be making his fifth start in less than a year-and-a-half. In other words, Chavez—and this bout—is everything the hardcore fan seems to abhor. Instead, it is a perverse badge of honor to endure the bore and snore routine of Andre Ward and Chad Dawson.

In the meantime, while Chavez remains busy as the hardest-working fraud in the beak-busting business, Gennady Golovkin and Dmirty Pirog will soon swap punches. Felix Sturm and Daniel Geale are planning to do the same. Through it all, Sergio Martinez sits on his crooked throne, beneath his schlock crown, raving like a mad Roman emperor during his last reigning days—Elagabalus, maybe, or Domitian. And Chavez, his beleaguered nemesis? Lee will be his third competent opponent in a year, a trio—also featuring veteran banger Marco Antonio Rubio and former amateur standout Sebastian Zbik—similar in class to recent Martinez victims. Not better than or equal to, but of a similar class. After all, Dzinziruk was a career junior middleweight who had only one fight in over two years before facing “Maravilla;” Darren Barker was undisputed king of York Hall, perhaps; and Matthew Macklin, in a frightening scene, was removed from the ring on a stretcher after being pole-axed by Jamie Moore, a fighter who had never even vied for one of a half-dozen world titles available in the modern boxing 99¢ Belt Bazaar.

If you think this immortal crew is light years ahead of Rubio, Zbik, and Lee, then you probably think a prerequisite for being a world-class fighter is to get stretched in the late rounds by Sergio Martinez. All of the aforementioned fighters reside within the same solid journeyman-fringe contender-anonymous titleholder range, separated, naturally, by varying degrees of talent, connections, and luck. But to hear the Martinez contingent babble, Dzinziruk, Barker, and Macklin were all members of The Forever People at one time or another.

Of course, Martinez did spectacularly flatten the once most-feared welterweight in the world—Paul Williams—and he did score a clean decision over Kelly Pavlik, whose minor league team penny pinched on a cutman and allowed Pavlik to become the Hobgoblin of hemoglobin over twelve rounds in Atlantic City. From press row, Pavlik, with his sallow skin and wide eyes, resembled a statue of the Virgin Mary weeping blood. And it is true that the Chavez braintrust is avoiding Martinez. But since Chavez is a walking phony, who cares?

Lee, 28-1 (20), may not be Marvin Hagler—hell, he may not even be Tony Sibson—but he has as good a shot as anyone does to topple Chavez, Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, from his silver-plated plinth. Junior is simply not good enough for any outing to be considered a mismatch. Even Peter Manfredo, Jr., was getting to Chavez before the Prodigal Son finally lowered the boom in the fifth round. Chavez is fair game for just about any top-20 middleweight, Lee included.

Although Lee has not improved markedly over the last few years, he no longer carries his right by his thigh as often as he used to; this, no doubt, was a lesson taught to him by Brian Vera in 2008. Nor does he make those strange semaphores any longer; Lee used to wave his right hand around like a warlock conjuring up some imp of the perverse. Still, keeping his right up did not stop Craig McEwan from pummeling Lee at will at Foxwoods last year. Lee rallied to stop McEwan in the tenth, but looked more like a drunk stevedore than a boxer with an Olympic pedigree in the process. Because of his pylon-straight style and his wayward right, Lee gets hit often and he gets hit hard. But he does have some counterpunching skill and he is particularly adept at whipping left uppercuts at an onrushing target. In addition, Lee, fighting out of Detroit, Michigan, also possesses a crack straight left, one he often tries getting opponents to walk into.

At 6’2” Lee also has slight pulls in both reach and height over Chavez. Nor will Chavez have the comical weight advantage he had on Marco Antonio Rubio a few months ago, when JCC entered the ring as a cruiserweight; Lee is a big middleweight and will likely rehydrate to within 10 pounds of his opponent come fight time.

For his part, Chavez, who showed some boxing ability against a weathered Peter Manfredo, Jr., should be looking to crowd Lee and bang to the body in close quarters as he did against Rubio. Like many fighters today, Lee is as helpless as a foal in the trenches. Grinding it out will also help neutralize the portside advantage Lee holds. In 2007 Chavez was farcically slapped around by the best southpaw he ever faced, talented but brittle Jose Celaya. A few months later, Ray Sanchez bounced shots off of his head with the regularity of a tennis ball machine. Clearly, lefties are not his best friends. Even so, unless Lee can drop the hammer on Chavez in the early-to-middle rounds, he runs the risk of fading down the stretch.

In that case, go with the chalk, and look for Chavez and Lee to mix it up freely, with Chavez getting enough of an edge to earn a unanimous decision. Of course, since the fight is being held in Texas, anything and everything can happen. Regardless of the outcome, however, expect Sergio Martinez to pop up somewhere soon, shouting commands and making demands of his many serfs. Everyone else, it seems, is just working for a good dollar.


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  • JohnPaulFutbol

    great, great preview. There is some good stuff in here, still giggling. Maybe it’s the “radioactive orange?” But, I gotta go with my guy Chavez, he’s # 3 on P-4-P list for a reason. Andy Lee will be killed by death and it will be Chavez’ fault. Lee is easy to hit, and Chavez is used to it….plus Lee used to wave his right like a warlock, that’s a huge force multiplier.  Zoolander will have his will ransacked by this performance. 

  • thenonpareil

     @JohnPaulFutbol Hi JPF, 
    If I don’t get a BARNEY AWARD nomination for the “hobgoblin of hemoglobin” you know that whole process if fixed!  
    I had some dunderhead accuse me of “shilling” over at Bad Left Hook and try to tell me that there was no comparison between Macklin, Barker, Dzinziruk–THE IMMORTAL THREE–and Zbik, Lee, and Rubio.   What a tool; he doesn’t even know what a “fact” is.  Anyway, I had to publicly  flog him.  This will probably outrage him and all the “Martinez is a Superstar God” crew even more.  They are p-4-p #3 the most idiotic contingent after Mayweather and Pacquiao zealots.  
    Lee is the epitome of wasted movement in the ring, but he hits pretty hard and can counterpunch a bit when his head isn’t wobbling around because of the blows landing on it.  He’s also big and a southpaw.  But you’re probably right.  Chavez has been WAGING WAR for years now and he is ready to nail both Martinez and Lee to THE TREE OF WOE. 

  • safesideOTR

    “Lee, 28-1 (20), may not be Marvin Hagler—hell, he may not even be Tony Sibson”
    He’s not and “Sibbo” would have cracked him, as long as it wasn’t on TV or a headline act (he was terrible with the jitters).

  • thenonpareil

     @safesideOTR Harrison, don’t get me in trouble by getting me to state publicly that Sibbo would have played whack-a-mole with Jermain Taylor, Kelly Pavlik, JCC Jr. and 90% of all current middleweights and junior middleweights!  
    They used to show his fights in America (unlike the current premium network philosophy of plucking some fella from the Midlands and dropping him into a 15-1 no-win situation and then sending him back never to be heard from again) and I remember when he knocked Irish John Collins into smithereens in less than a round!   I also saw his fights with Hagler, Lee, and Tate–the infamous bomb threat fight.  What a left hook…

  • dennis wise

    “Hobgoblin of hemoglobin”  you should trademark that before some blogger steals it.  
    I’m with you on the Chavez Martinez comparisons. And I am a Martinez fan.  Martinez is clearly a better fighter, he’s won more conclusively. But that only makes the point more emphatic: what sense does it make to hold Chavez to a higher standard than Martinez?

  • thenonpareil

     @dennis wise Hi Dennis, 
    There are some Barney Award nominees–and their friends–who spend an awful lot of time reading TCS, but they won’t acknowledge me publicly.  Of course, they say some nice things about fellers who can’t even string together two worthwhile sentences.  That’s a special kind of arrogance.  But, I’m glad to have helped them learn to write with a little more flair and color.  And, since I’m an altruist at heart, I give them permission to swipe “Hobgoblin of Hemoglobin.”  
    I like Martinez in the ring.  He’s actually one of my favorite fighters, but his entitlement whining is too much for me.  Every time you turn around, there’s some article about Martinez calling Pacquiao a fraud and Chavez a coward.  A guy that talented and charismatic (and well-dressed) doesn’t need that sort of low-class howling.  
    And his hardcore fanbase is comprised mostly of blithering idiots who cannot see the asterisks in his record.  Everybody has asterisks in their records–even top P-4-P-4-EVER fighters.  
    We both seem to agree that we’ve come to a point in boxing where fighters are no longer made by fans, but  by networks and super bloggers/clueless hacks/journos, and Martinez is sort of an example of that.  Not completely, because Martinez puts on a good show and has beaten some good solid fighters over the last few years, but mostly it’s a lot of echo chamber hype that allows a fighter (and his promoter) to make absurd demands and partake in a grand illusion of superstardom.  
    Chavez has a fake belt just like 85% of all boxers with a belt.  Chavez has out-of-the-ring problems just like many boxers do.  Chavez has fought opposition that some feel is limited–just like almost every fighter does.  The difference is that Chavez has generated his own fanfare by fighting hard and being entertaining (I know, I know, the only reason people watch him is because of his father….like people were enamored with Hector Camacho Jr. and Dyah Davis.)   Until the last 10-12 years, fighting hard, being entertaining, drawing ratings, and pulling in crowds was, for the most part, the essence of prizefighting as a sport.  There is something wrong with boxing (other than what’s often wrong with it) when people champion dull fighters who have drawn 550,000 live television viewers for big fights or fewer than 2,000 paying customers for two title defenses-combined!  Every time a casual sports fan flips on the TV and sees one guy race across the ring, head down, and wrap his arms around his opponent’s waist or sees another superstar fight with all the urgency of a sleep clinic volunteer, he’s going to change the fucking channel.   But he will always be ragged on by those “in the know,” who have all the secrets of boxing in their possession, having first discovered it in 2007 or 2008.  Whatever.  I’m rambling.  

  • HitDog

    Sergio Martinez isn’t one of my favorite fighters because I think he’s been wronged, because he thinks he’s been wronged, because Lou talks up his late discovery a lot, because he’s avoided, because he’s not avoided, because he’s made efforts to fight smaller men because the money was there while refusing opportunities available 12 pounds above his ideal weight, or because he’s a star, which of course he’s not: that’s strictly a numerical distinction.
    But I do find Sergio’s method and execution in the ring exciting as hell, and definitely don’t feel the same for fighters like JCCJr, where I can’t see the method even if I see the courage (albeit usually against significantly smaller, often run-of-the-mill fighters, like the sort he built 45 wins on, as though he was trying to match his father’s win total before even taking a title shot). Tonight, at least in size, things will be different.
    It’s easy to overrate Martinez and underrate Chavez. We can’t safely say how things would be if their reliative power roles were reversed either, but I imagine the Favored Son would be about as loud, with even less reason.

  • thenonpareil

     @MartinSchatz Hi Martin, 
    welcome back!   
    Thanks much.  Can you imagine that after over five years of writing, the only people who can overcome their fear and cliquey nepotism rituals are Maxboxing, Undisputed Fight Magazine, and a startup magazine in Mexico?  Hmmph!  
    For me, Andre Ward is everything you want in a boxer: a young, articulate, intelligent, dedicated family man with a cute wife, adorable kids and an Olympic pedigree.  Absolutely the Poster Boy for boxing.  Until the bell rings.  And then, it all goes wrong.  Ward is insufferably boring.  It’s his right to be so, but when the greasy–and greased–boxing machine  wants to tell us that a guy whose fight with Allan Green was almost cancelled because of a lack of tickets sales and whose Super Six (revolutionary! groundbreaking!) win was seen by 550,000 viewers is some sort of star, things have got to come to a halt.  
    I have to respectfully disagree–what Ward does is not infighting, it’s spoiling, and back in the day he would have a hard time getting a gig, much less becoming a “star.” Promoters would have dashed across the street if they saw Ward coming down the block.  Now, because what matters is what a network hype machine tells us–and the media hype machine in its wake–we have to swallow this Ward stuff like castor oil.  Even Showtime decided to let him walk over to HBO after all the money they invested in him.  That’s not to say that he doesn’t have talent–he has tons of it.  But unless you can dramatize that in the ring, it doesn’t matter.  The public at large has had its say about Ward, Dawson, Berto, etc.–they don’t want to see them.  But he is, as you say, mentally tough and versatile.  He just prefers to maul and clinch a lot, and that’s not a style I can appreciate.  Neither do most television viewers and ticket buyers, it seems.   Still, he’s a good guy and in many ways a credit to boxing. 
    Nothing else going on out here in cyberland, alas.  Take care. 

  • thenonpareil

     @HitDog Hi JD, 
    I agree with most of what you say, except the last paragraph.  The power role Martinez has is a figment…otherwise he wouldn’t be yelping all the time.  Chavez wouldn’t have to yelp, because he is a money guy and has built his career (mediocre or otherwise, Child of a Legend or otherwise) entirely without the help of the fellows who shoved Chad Dawson and Andre Berto down everybody’s craw.  Attractions always get leeway in this sport: that’s the way it should be and it’s been a tradition since the days when stakes were gathered and publicans backed their favorite fighters with hard coin and people boarded mystery trains to secluded spots or to barges in order to avoid the law and see their heroes fight.   What’s strange is the guys few care about who get leeway. THAT is mind-boggling.  
    I should also say that I have seen just about every Chavez fight going back to 2005 or so and even bought all of those Latin Fury pay-per-views because I knew what I would get: action.  And the fights were fun and pretty evenly matched (because Chavez is not good enough to steamroll many guys).   
    Now, to be fair, Martinez SHOULD be a star.  The ladies love him, he’s well-spoken, charismatic, and, most important, he’s aware that what he does is a sort of performance art.  But he hasn’t caught on.  And that’s a shame.  Chavez would never have caught on even with his name if he fought like Camacho Jr. or Dyah Davis. That’s a silly meme perpetrated by folks who are too lazy to think.  The 15,000 people who are going to pay to see him tonight are doing so partly because he is the son of Chavez, but also because he’s an action fighter, and also has intangibles like personality, intelligence, etc. 
    The 45 wins you scoff at are in line with what fighters used to do all the time years ago, fight often, build a following, and learn their trade–especially if they only had a handful of amateur fights like he did. (Check the early record of a Hall of Famer like Billy Graham for comparison; you’d be surprised at how he built his undefeated streak.)   I’m not a Chavez booster, per se, although I’ve been accused of it by people with limited reading comprehension, but I’ll always back a guy who insist on action in the ring. (This includes Martinez as well.)  Boxing is an action sport, after all, and aren’t some of us tired of seeing the same huggers, barkers, and disinterested jabbers taking up slots and millions of dollars that could go to someone who moves the spectator in some way?  

  • jet79

    Hi CA,

    Playing the twitter antagonist to the circle-jerk of Martinez fans, I booked a seat on the Chavez bandwagon a few years ago.

  • Andrew Fruman

    Hi CA,
    I just tried to comment and it didn’t go through, so I’m trying again!
    I’m excited about tonight’s fight.  It’s nice to have a main-event, where the outcome is not a foregone conclusion.  I’m a little worried over a potential head clash, as Chavez likes to really lean in and he’s facing a southpaw tonight – but hopefully no such downer will befell the night’s action, like it did in the UK today.
    Chavez is a busy worker, and he’s going to have the crowd on his side, so one has to figure Lee will need to do some real damage to win.  Maybe he can, maybe he can’t – should be fun finding out.

  • thenonpareil

     @jet79 Hi JT, 
    that must be a wild ride to be on.  Especially when you upset the homoerotic contingent and the pig-tailed girls.  

  • thenonpareil

     @AirdrawnDagger Hi airdrawndagger, 
    the trend lately seems to be admire spoilers and maulers and call them boxers and infighters.  Alexander and Ward are the two biggest  offenders.  Ward has more talent and doesn’t need to do all that grappling and clinching, but for some reason, he does.  It’s terrible for fans and that’s why so few fighters tuned in to the Super Six finals, probably.  People don’t seem to remember or understand what a standup boxing match is anymore.  When I was researching my Holmes article, I watched his fight with Carl Williams–hardly a clinch between the two for 15 rounds and these were heavyweights! 
    Anyway, about a year ago, I tried to come up with a top -10 list of the best infighters in boxing.  I came up with three names and gave up.  

  • thenonpareil

     @Andrew Fruman Hi AF, 
    persistence is good!  
    Yes, it should be a pretty good fight…not what we’ve seen very often of the premium cable networks this year.  Two young fighters, neither of them world-beaters, with the kind of flaws that should make for some excitement.  And that’s what we look for as fight aficionados, no?  

  • Rantcatrat

    I don’t have a problem with Junior ducking Martinez while he developed his skill set. I don’t hold a grudge against him for receiving preferential treatment because heis the son of a legend.  The issue I have with Junior is the lack of transparency regarding drug tests.  The last time he fought in Nevada was against Troy Rowland.  The result of that fight was changed to a no-contest because Junior failed the post-fight drug test: he has not fought in Nevada since.  In two of six of his following fights, he didn’t receive drug tets for some reason, or the other.  With the recent unmasking of the pervasiveness of illegal drugs in boxing, that type of behavior is nothing, if not highly suspect. 
    Therefore, as much as I am a fan of CA-he is one of the best boxing writers in the game today, hands down- I’m not sure Junior is the guy to get behind in his anti-Dibella crusade. 

  • thenonpareil

     @Rantcatrat Hi rantcatrat, 
    thanks for checking in.  I am working on something re: Chavez that should run tomorrow, so maybe some of your points will be answered there.  
    As far as DiBella goes, I’m not sure where you’re coming from here.  I haven’t mentioned DiBella in a negative way since February–and that was just an aside.  I’d say it’s been eight months or so since I’ve ragged on him.  
    I’ve ragged on every major promoter in the U.S.,  with the exception of Main Events, who I think does a good job.  However, if I had the time or interest, I’d dropkick them, too, for showing Doel Carrasquillo on TV.  
    I’ve shit on–ruthlessly , at times–Top Rank, GBP, Goosen, and Gary Shaw.   So DiBella, whom I always say is a nice guy, is not some special target.  If I’ve paid any special attention to him, maybe it’s because he’s local and I shelled out hundreds and hundreds of dollars to see his cards over the years.  (You won’t find many writers and super bloggers who’ve actually ever paid to see a fight!)  So, I’m not on any crusade and I don’t have any special beef with DiBella.  I also don’t appreciate anyone conjuring up phony feuds on my behalf  and insinuating that my opinions of Chavez have something to do with some  vendetta I have against a particular promoter.  

  • Rantcatrat

     @thenonpareil I didn’t intend on conjuring up a phony feud between you and Dibella.  I believe that the Cruelest Sport has ran critical posts about Sergio Martinez in the past.  I think what may have happened is that for some reason I incorrectly imputed that to criticism about Dibella, when it was just criticism of Maravilla.  In any event, I apologize.  No mal-intent.  I find most of your criticism of boxing promoters generally refreshing.
    Keep up the good work. Thanks for running a great boxing blog.  I look forward to reading your posts in the future.
     I have a question about boxing writing. Who are your favorites past or present boxing writers? Do you have any recommendations of great boxing essays, columns, or books?

  • HitDog

     @thenonpareil Fair points, all. Pernell Whitaker is my all-time favorite fighter although I’ve never enjoyed another fighter in my style range, so I’m pickier about my action, but I definitely cannot fault anyone for seeking it in the ring, whether we root for rain, the ability to skillfully dance around it (holds don’t count), or, best of all, both.