Lee won’t be bullied so easily by Chavez Jr.
By Jordan Capobianco: When Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. entered the ring to fight Marco Antonio Rubio, it was clear that Rubio was the lighter man. Chavez Jr. allegedly lost up to 5 pounds on the day prior to the weigh-in to make weight, and then gained as much as 20 pounds in the subsequent 24 hours, showing up for the fight perhaps not even able to make the light heavyweight cutoff of 175.
Chavez Jr. was then able to bully Rubio in the ring with his superior inside game, pushing Rubio around and choosing the distance at which the fight was to be fought. And Rubio couldn’t keep it to the outside. Rubio is only 5’10. Chavez Jr. is 6’1. Rubio and Chavez Jr.’s reach are approximately the same. Rubio lost because he fought the fight that Chavez Jr. presented him with, and that fight was an inside brawl, where Chavez Jr. was able to use his ability to get leverage on the inside, and lean his pounds onto Rubio’s smaller, shorter frame, essentially bullying him physically around the ring.
In my opinion, Lee will not be bullied so easily.
Lee will be the slightly taller man, with an inch height advantage over Chavez. The Irishman will also bring a strong outside game featuring a devastating left hook, as well as the jab needed to create sufficient distance between himself and Chavez Jr. to throw that left hook. Lee is a disciple of Emanuel Steward. Wladimir Klitschko, Lennox Lewis, Tommy Hearns: All Steward disciples. All able to dominate opponents with legendary jabs. Lee will have the skills. But what he might not have is the weight. Too much weight, and Lee might not be able to move efficiently on the outside. Too little weight, and Lee might find himself fighting (and losing) the same fight that Rubio fought and lost before him.
We do know that Lee is perfectly aware of how important his weight will be. The only fight Lee ever lost was to Brian Vera on March 21, 2008, a stunning turnaround which featured Lee winning 6 rounds prior to a stoppage in the 7th with Lee still on his feet. Lee blamed his weight for the loss, citing that he came in at 158, and saying he was unable to rehydrate sufficiently. If Lee comes in well-hydrated, nourished, throwing good jabs and keeping the distance he needs to throw his crushing left, Chavez Jr. might have a nice big hug from the ref in his future, except not one of affection: A hug to keep him from falling flat on his face.
Maybe it’s all wishful thinking. Maybe it’s just more pleasant to think Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will lose his belt and move into cruiserweight where he obviously belongs. Maybe it’s just more pleasant to think that after a loss to Lee, Larry Merchant will start treating Chavez Jr. like every other fighter, and ask things he would ask of any other fighter: Questions about DUI charges, questions about why a middleweight champion’s legs would feel shaky in the 8th round of a match against Rubio which he won by unanimous decision, and perhaps…perhaps…questions about Sergio Martinez.
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