Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Look At The Potential Future For Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Leading up to the rematch between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Bryan Vera this observer stated that when it came to rematches Chavez had shown the ability to improve the second time around. When Chavez and Vera met for their rematch on March 1st in San Antonio, Texas, Chavez proved to be true to form as it was evident from the beginning that this would be a much different fight than the first encounter.

The primary difference between the first fight and the rematch was in large part Chavez’ ability to be more active and to somewhat reverse the tempo of the first fight in that he was the one who applied consistent pressure while using good lateral movement to set up his offense. The first fight in contrast, was completely opposite as Vera was consistently aggressive, applying pressure and never seemed to stop throwing punches.

It was Chavez’ thudding punches and considerably increased offensive output that set the pace of the rematch. Although the always “Game” Bryan Vera remained active throughout the fight in out throwing Chavez by over four hundred punches (961 to 526) during the course of the twelve round bout, he just could not seem to find an answer for Chavez’ pressure attack as Chavez out landed Vera by fifty-one punches (256 to 205), a direct reversal of the first fight, where Vera out landed Chavez by fifty-one punches. This time Chavez left no doubts earning a convincing twelve round unanimous decision.

Sometimes coming out of a fight there is not too much analysis that one can give other than to simply say one man was able to do a little more than his opponent. Much like the first encounter, Chavez landed the harder punches of the two fighters. The difference between that fight and the rematch however, was Chavez was simply more active in comparison to his performance in the first fight in addition to taking the role of being the effective aggressor throughout. Bryan Vera however, never took a backward step and never stopped trying to turn the tide in his favor. As he has done throughout his career, Vera showed his mettle by taking significant punishment from Chavez and continuing to come forward. It was just a case of Chavez being better prepared this time around and that was really what the story was of the rematch in my opinion.

Coming out of this rematch I feel that there are similarities between Chavez’ two fights with Bryan Vera and his two fights against Matt Vanda in 2008. In particular, how both men seemed to get to Chavez in the first encounter, leaving a consensus among both fans and experts that they had won the fight against Chavez in convincing fashion only to see Chavez turn the tables on both in the rematch.  The commonality between the two? Leading up to each rematch Chavez was better prepared and able to correct tactical flaws from the first fight.

Questions however, do remain in regard to Chavez. It is important to remember that although Chavez looked good in his rematch with Bryan Vera, that some might still question his overall commitment to the sport. In addition, there also remains the question of just where Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will choose to campaign at this stage of his career.

Chavez, who successfully defended the WBC World Middleweight Championship three times before losing his title to Sergio Martinez in September 2012 has fought his last two fights above the 160lb. Middleweight limit since that fight. Chavez also had difficulty making weight for his first fight with Bryan Vera and after adjustments as to at which weight the fight would take place eventually the fight took place just under the 175lb. Light-Heavyweight limit.

One name that surfaced after Chavez’ second victory over Bryan Vera as a potential opponent was the undefeated current unified WBA/IBO Middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin. Stylistically a potential fight between Golovkin and Chavez does have fan friendly fight written all over it. An obvious storyline that would accompany such a battle would be whether or not Chavez could do what no top Middleweight contender has been able to do, withstand the constant pressure, seek and destroy style that has made Gennady Golovkin a household name.

By the same token, a question that some might ask as the potential fight approached might be whether or not Golovkin could take Chavez’ punch. After all, despite as destructive as Gennady Golovkin has been since emerging as one of Boxing’s hottest rising stars, no one has been able to really hurt him thus far. Chavez does have the punching power that would certainly draw attention if a fight between the two is signed.

An interesting question however, regarding such a fight would be where it would take place in terms of weight. Given Chavez’ recent difficulty in making weight and fighting as high as thirteen pounds above the Middleweight limit as recently as two fights ago, could Chavez go back down to 160lbs. and do so without compromising his strength or stamina? Would Gennady Golovkin, who has successfully defended his title ten times since becoming champion in 2010 be willing to fight Chavez above the Middleweight limit and potentially risk his standing not only as a world champion in the Middleweight division, but also his standing in terms of the sport’s pound for pound debates.

Even though technically a fight above the Middleweight limit would be a non-title fight for Golovkin, there is always a possibility of the various political elements in the sport potentially playing a role in that if Golovkin were to lose, he could potentially risk being stripped of his title, despite the potential loss taking place in a different weight class. It certainly would not be the first time that the politics of the sport could potentially play a role regardless of whether a world championship is officially at stake.

These are indeed interesting questions should a Golovkin-Chavez fight be signed in the near future. This observer however, believes that it could be more likely that Chavez chooses to remain either in the 168lb. Super-Middleweight division or to potentially venture into the 175lb. Light-Heavyweight division.

There are certainly several viable options that could be on the table for Chavez at Super-Middleweight. One such option that I can see is for Chavez to face the winner of the upcoming rematch between IBF Super-Middleweight champion Carl Froch and George Groves, which is scheduled to take place May 31st in London, England. Froch is a legitimate star of the division and has earned his marquee status. The significant interest in the rematch with Groves will only increase his marquee value and depending on the outcome of that fight, could be a significant pay-per-view draw. George Groves meanwhile gave an excellent account himself in defeat in the first fight with Froch and thus has established himself as a player in the division. Should Groves be successful in the rematch, I believe he would welcome a chance to fight another star of the sport with open arms.

Other options however, do also exist for Chavez in the division. Of course one option that I briefly discussed in the build up to Chavez’ rematch with Bryan Vera would be a fight with undefeated WBA champion Andre Ward, the man widely considered the number one fighter in the division. There is no doubt in my mind that a potential fight between Ward and Chavez would be a pay-per-view draw in it’s own right. In my opinion, Chavez could be more likely to take a fight against WBC champion Sakio Bika as Chavez is currently rated number one in the WBC Super-Middleweight ratings if a fight with the winner of Froch-Groves II or a fight with Gennady Golovkin does not materialize.

Although it is not hard to envision or expect Andre Ward to be in the future plans for Chavez at some point in the future, the fight could be an even bigger draw from a business standpoint if it were a potential unification fight. This scenario of course is under the assumption that Chavez would be successful against whomever he should fight next. If there is one thing the sport of Boxing has taught all of us is that nothing is a sure thing when it comes to not only what may happen inside the ring, but also what may happen outside the ring.

If Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. can remain in top form in between fights and avoid any problems with weight, the near future could turn out to be very lucrative for him. If however, he does not remain consistent and ends up securing a fight with any of the aforementioned stars, he could be setting himself up for a disappointment. There are certainly plenty of fighters out there throughout the entire sport who are looking to either establish themselves or raise their marquee value by adding a marquee name to their resume.

Chavez is a marquee name and it will be up to him to remain on top of his game.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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