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Atlas: Chavez Jr. is too limited, can’t punch and needs to be matched carefully

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.By Dan Ambrose: ESPN2 analyst Teddy Atlas made a brutal assessment of WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr’s ability last night on Friday Night Fights and Atlas, as usual, pulled no punches about his thoughts on Chavez’s ability and future outlook.

Here’s what Atlas had to say about Chavez Jr:

“Chavez Jr. is trying to find the right identity for himself. He’s trying to take a page out of the playbook of his father, and he’s not his father. But he’s a game guy; he’s a real fighter. He has that Mexican pride and he has that pride that comes through the bloodlines of his father. And he wants to fight on the inside; he wants to be an inside fighter, and he can get away with it with [Marco Antonio] Rubio. Weight or not weight, he can get away with it with a 31-year-old Rubio, and he’s 25, and a guy that’s not physical like Rubio. He’s not going to get away with I with the top guys; the guys that know how to fight on the inside; the guys that won’t let him push them around, even if it’s an excess of 20 pounds. If its water weight, kind of late weight it was. It’s not going to matter. He’s not going to be able to do that. He’s too easy to find, he’s too easy to hit. They’re [Chavez’s management] going to have to be very careful with the matchmaking. They better give those matchmakers a nice bonus to make sure they continue to put him in the right fights. I’m not taking nothing away from him. He’s a game son of a gun. He behaves like a fighter in the ring, but he’s limited; he’s too easy to hit; he’s not a real big puncher. He couldn’t fit in there with a guy like [Sergio] Martinez and guys like that. And if he’s going to continue with the weight program he’s on, and I don’t think it’s a Jenny Craig weight program, I don’t know where the heck he’s getting that from. But if he’s to continue to go up in weight like that, where’s he going to go? 168? He’ll be dead. He’s not going to beat Andre Ward. There’s [Lucian] Bute, there’s Andre Ward there, there’s Carl Froch there, there’s Arthur Abraham there. That’s a tough neighborhood.”

I’m in full agreement with Teddy on everything he said. Chavez Jr. is hurting himself by trying to fight on the inside like his famous father Julio Cesar Chavez, because he’s only going to be able to fight like that against the limited opposition that his promoter Bob Arum is putting him in with. Once Chavez Jr. is forced to fight someone good like Sergio Martinez, Dmitry Pirog or Andy Lee, he’s going to have a lot of problems because he won’t be able to fight like that against them. Chavez Jr. doesn’t punch hard enough to compete against guys like that from the outside and his huge cruiserweight-like frame will be useless unless those kinds of fighters willingly decide to fight him in close.

I can’t see that happening. Rubio fought like that because he has a bad habit of retreating to the ropes when he fights, but Lee, Pirog and Martinez are guys that use the entire ring and would never fight with their back against the ropes so that Chavez Jr. could fight in close. I don’t know what’s happen with Chavez Jr. and his trainer Freddie Roach. If Chavez Jr. is still fighting like this after two years of being with Roach, then it’s time to cut Roach loose and find a trainer that can teach Chavez Jr. how to fight on the outside because he’s going to need to learn how to do this if he’s to have any chance of hanging with the better fighters. I don’t think Chavez Jr. can hang with those guys, to tell you the truth. He’s too slow and huge to fight on the outside, and the power just isn’t there for some reason. He weighs as much as a cruiserweight but he punches like a welterweight. He can punch a little to the body if he’s got a stationary target that just stands there so he can throw those shots, but against a normal fighter with skills, no way will Chavez Jr. be able to land his body shots.

Bob Arum has done an incredible job of building the guy up with his soft matchmaking. It’s incredible that you can have a champion as limited as Chavez Jr. You got to give Arum credit for having Chavez Jr. maneuvered around Sergio Martinez over and over again. But I don’t think it’s something that can go on forever without it making the World Boxing Council look silly for not forcing Chavez Jr. to fight his mandatory challenger fight after fight. Arum really should have had Chavez Jr. pick up one of the WBC’s recently created belts, like the WBC Silver strap instead of a real world title belt. If Arum had done that, Chavez Jr. could dodge opposition probably for many years without anyone making a big production about it. But as a world champion, there are expectations that come with it, and the pressure is on Arum, Chavez Jr. and the WBC to fight Martinez. The thing is once Chavez Jr. fights him, Chavez Jr. will lose and lose badly. He’s not in the same league as Martinez or is he in the same class as some of the other top middleweights like Gennady Golovkin, Lee, or Dmitry Pirog. Those guys can all punch and they’re not going to stand there and let Chavez Jr. shove them around like Rubio did in Chavez’s recent 12 round decision win at the Alamodome on February 4th.

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