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Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Andy Lee Pick

Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. vs. Andy Lee Preview and Pick to Win

When: June 16, 2012

Where: Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas

TV: HBO at 10:00 p.m. EST

Weight Class: WBC Middleweight Championship: 12 Rounds

By Scotty L,

Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr,, 45-0-1 (31 KOs), Culiacan, Mexico, WBC Middleweight Champion Vs. Andy Lee, 28-1 (20 KOs), Detroit, Michigan/London, England

Fight Odds: Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (-400), Andy Lee (+300)

Over/Under: Over 10.5 (-160), Under 10.5 (+120)

Fight Analysis: Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. defends his belt against Andy Lee on June 16 in El Paso. The son of the legendary Mexican idol receives resounding support in the southwest and will be the decisive crowd favorite fighting in Texas. He can use every edge he can receive against talented Lee. Though an underdog, he is arguably Chavez’ most talented foe.

One can debate the true championship status of Chavez, Jr. or his quality of opponents. At this point, it only serves to distract from the high level of improvement to his game. There was a time several years ago when he looked to be a flattened-out prospect. Those who said he was living off his father’s name and favorable relationship with the WBC might have been at least partially correct. But in the last few years, he proved his mettle and has rounded into quite a nice little fighter. Capable of beating the absolute elite? Maybe not, but a formidable package nonetheless.

Chavez, Jr. had no amateur fighting experience, so his uneven development as a pro is understandable. And after 47 fights with no losses, a few years working with Freddie Roach, and the benefit of fighting some better opposition, he is now one of the better middleweights on the planet.

Lee, 27, is a year older than Chavez, Jr. and two inches taller. He lost one fight as a pro, but avenged that in his next to last fight. Lee has also flowered under the tutelage of another whiz trainer in Emanuel Steward. He moved to Detroit to dedicate himself fully and has looked sharp in recent outings. His lone loss, to tough Brian Vera, in now over four years in the past. Lee is a crisp puncher, a big middleweight, and a tough customer.

This is a nice meshing of styles. Both Chavez and Lee are middleweights of large stature with a lot “on the ball.” They have each added nuances to their repertoire--little tricks that come with being a long serving pro fighter. They are both more adept at using their legs than what was once the case, but neither are runners.

One potential cause for concern lies with lifestyle and weight. Just 2 weeks before the biggest fight of his life, Chavez, Jr. was picked up for DUI. He clearly beat Rubio and deserves credit for a nice win. But then you also look at how hard he struggles to make weight, often putting on over 20 pounds between the weigh-in and the fight. When do those things start catching up with Chavez, Jr?

If Chavez, Jr. thinks this is another test on par to the one he received against Rubio, he might be mistaken. Lee brings a lot to the table that Rubio didn’t bring. Rubio was making excuses the entire time, suggesting that he was already priming himself to handle a loss. Lee will have a more positive outlook, rather than become preoccupied with officials, drug testing, and the like. The former Olympian had a nice amateur career and figures to trouble Chavez, Jr. with his southpaw stance. And he might even have an edge in speed.

Pick to Win: I think Emanuel Steward’s faith in Lee pays off here. For several years, we’ve heard Steward talk about this guy and raised eyebrows of skepticism have disappeared for those who have seen Lee progress. I think this fight is a toss-up. Lee has a heck of a chance. But he will need to beat more than just Chavez, Jr. He will need to beat the WBC. He will need to beat Texas, where some strange things have been happening lately. Let’s assume the monkey business is kept to a minimum, especially with Texas already on a short leash due to recent shenanigans in the ring. At a nice underdog price, I’m taking Lee to win, fully aware that beating Chavez, Jr. in  a WBC bout in Texas is no easy task. Take the +300 on Andy Lee to win.

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