For Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico. (44-0-1, 33 KOs), this would be the first title defense of his WBC Middleweight World Championship that he won this past June via Majority Decision against the then undefeated Sebastian Zbik. His opponent, “The pride of Providence.” Peter Manfredo Jr (37-7, 20 KOs) is a pugilist that has gotten a lot of fame in the boxing world despite never winning “The big one.” Due to his “The Contender.” fame, as well as having a very likable personality. As Manfredo Jr stated himself, “I know this is my last shot, here on HBO.”
Having lost his previous high profile match ups on the network, including a questionable stoppage in round 3 via TKO in April of 2007, against then undefeated Super Middleweight Champion of the World, Joe Calzaghe. Chavez Jr himself has gotten a lot of exposure as well, due to being the son of all time great Mexican ring legend, Julio Cesar Chavez or “J.C. Superstar.” However, Chavez Jr is now beginning to escape the shadow of his father more and more now, having captured a World Championship, as well as remaining undefeated through his first forty five professional bouts.
After dispatching the experienced Manfredo Jr within five rounds via TKO, and with veteran, all time great trainer, Freddie Roach now in Chavez Jr’s corner. A progression of Chavez Jr’s skills has become apparent after each bout he’s had with Roach running the show in his preparation. On this night in Houston, in front of an adoring Chavez Jr crowd, Chavez Jr was able to take his skills to another level than previously shown from the 25 old. As he put on a display and showed the adjustments in his style that would leave some fight fans that were expecting a clone of Chavez Sr through Jr’s development left with something new to behold. Chavez Jr is a boxer that can give you fireworks just like his father, and he has a crunching left hook to the body, (His father’s signature punch throughout his tenure at the top of the sport.)
So unmistakably, there are some similarities between Jr and Sr. However, Chavez Sr’s best days were from Super Featherweight to Junior Welterweight (130 Lbs to 140 Lbs) Where he successfully captured World Championships at each division. His son however, is a Middleweight as of right now (160 Lbs) and against Manfredo Jr, Chavez Jr came into the ring weighing in almost 180 pounds. Standing at six feet tall, Chavez jr also has some weapons in his repertoire that are much different than what his father used to be effective. Due to the difference in their body types, Chavez Jr fights in a much different style than his father. Chavez Sr was never much of a jabber, though it wasn’t a glaring weakness by any means, it wasn’t one of his main sources of offense. Chavez Sr’s bread and butter was his intelligently applied pressure, using great body work and heavy blows to eventually wear his opponent down throughout twelve rounds. Junior on the other hand, appears to have some tools he can put to use that’d separate him from his father, rather than being a carbon copy of what made his father successful.
For starters, with his blessings in length and size, he showed against Manfredo Jr in spurts that he can release a stiff, accurate jab that can help him dominate in controlling the range. Chavez Jr and trainer Freddie Roach will have to find ways for him to utilize his potentially highly effective jab to it’s maximum abilities. Manfredo Jr, to his credit did indeed come to fight with his all, as he’s shown before in his career, but as he stated himself, he always comes up short in his biggest opportunities. Through the five rounds it lasted, Peter Manfredo Jr had his best moments in an action packed fourth round, as he was able to lure Chavez Jr into being lackadaisical with his defense, and compel him to slug it out with Manfredo Jr, while having his back to the ropes.
Other than that moment for Manfredo Jr, and a competitive first round between the two combatants, it was a one sided good showing for Chavez Jr. Although Manfredo Jr is not considered an elite fighter, this could still be seen as something of a break out performance for Chavez Jr. For years boxing experts and fans alike have criticized Chavez Jr for not taking on quality opponents, and essentially having a easy path towards stardom due to the supposed easy opponents, and banking off of his father name. With this showing from Chavez Jr, a transition feels as though is taking place.
From “Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, son of Julio Cesar Chavez.” to “Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.”. So while Chavez Jr still has a lot of accomplishments, and challenges he must overcome to be considered a worthy Jr to his father, he is beginning to show that he may just able to do just that, and create his own identity as a Championship level prize fighter. Within Chavez Jr’s arsenal, he showcased the jab mentioned earlier, which looks like coupled with his length can be quite a weapon for Chavez Jr going forward. Chavez Jr’s temperament seems to be fabulous when it comes to how he responds to a slugfest, despite having a baby face, Chavez Jr hasn’t showed any hesitance in mixing it up, toe-to-toe.
The question for him in the future would be how would he respond to a fleet footed fighter that’d be on the move often? Defensively Chavez Jr held his hands in good defensive positions, and although his slickness needs improvement, and upper body movement, he still showed the ability to hold his hands in good positioning to parry off shots. Chavez Jr got hit, and has gotten hit in a lot of his fights, but he’s getting hit less and less, little by little as he’s climbing the ladder of competition and thats a good sign. Chavez Jr was able to take whatever Manfredo Jr could cleanly land with ease, and almost had an arrogance in the way he was able to absorb Manfredo Jr’s blows. Not only can Chavez Jr take a good shot thus far, he’s also showcased some tremendous left hooks, as he places them very accurately with good hand speed. He also throws a good sweeping right hand, and cross, all of his shots are thrown with conviction and good, though not blazing hand speed.
Chavez Jr will have to continue to progress and utilities his advantages to the best he possibly can, and he has the perfect corner man to do the job. Also, it seemed as though his right crosses, stiff left jab, and the his two winging hooks with each hand are indeed good shots, that he places well. However, Chavez Jr didn’t show any adept ability at throwing the uppercut, it’s a punch that if brought up to par with his other shots, would assuredly improve Chavez Jr as a fighter, and help him on his inside fighting capabilities. As for Manfredo Jr, the fighter stated he’d seriously consider retirement should he not be able to pull off a victory against Chavez Jr. With the Providence, Rhode Island, native now dropping his record to (37-7, 20 KOs).
It’s not necessary that Manfredo Jr would have to retire, although it’s possible he wouldn’t bet too excited about being a gate keeper at Middleweight and Super Middleweight, it’s a job he’s highly qualified for, and there are good pay days to be made taking such fights. Manfredo Jr dropped to 0-2 in Championship fights, his other loss against former Undisputed Super Middleweight Champion, Joe Calzaghe. Moving forward for Chavez Jr, a fight with Middleweight kingpin (and Champion of course) Sergio Martinez should be placed on the back burner for the improving Chavez Jr. There are good fights that can bring him along to that level around his weight class. Fighters such as Middleweights: Dimitri Pirog and Felix Strum. Or Junior Middleweights, Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto, James Kirkland, or possibly “Canelo” Alvarez making a move up to Middleweight.
Further Down the line, that fight would put the most money in peoples pockets, if the two can remain successful, it would be Chavez Jr squaring off against fellow undefeated countrymen and emerging superstar, twenty one year old Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. What was once looked at worst as a side show to grab some dough, is now beginning to look like the start of a Championship caliber career, for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. With the continued progression of the young Chavez Jr, boxing may have a new superstar added to it’s roster in the coming years, only time will tell, but more people will be paying closer attention from here on out it seems.