A bit of a screw-up at TQBR Headquarters yesterday in writing up last night’s HBO middleweight main event, so let’s keep this brief: Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., he showed that he CAN box, some. Maybe even pretty well. He dodged punches for the first time ever, countered effectively, fought going backward, and so forth. That was in the first three rounds. In the 4th, Peter Manfredo, Jr. forced Chavez into a back-and-forth brawl, and it was more like the old Chavez — maybe he can box, but he decided he didn’t want to. He emerged from that sizzling round of slugging with a bloody nose, but closed the show the next round. The stoppage was borderline, sure, but for once I can’t argue with referee Laurence Cole’s call; Manfredo wasn’t doing much, and he was getting hit with pretty flush shots.
Manfredo retired after the fight, and in one of the quotes of the year, said he was no longer interested in the sport, basically: “I don’t want to promote or be part of boxing. I just wanna (eat) a sandwich.” Admittedly, Manfredo was there to make Chavez look pretty, and almost certainly the slow and still-hittable Chavez couldn’t do some of the things he did to Manfredo to legitimate middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. But Chavez’ career arc, for me, is mimicking that of his popular Mexican rival Saul Alvarez. I started a skeptic of his talent. I was slowly won over by Alvarez. I’m on my way to being won over by Chavez. Chavez is going to be fun no matter what. But if he can fight like he did Saturday, the universe of appetizing match-ups open up for him with fighters previously thought to be in a much higher skill bracket. Here’s a good start, a fight that already was appetizing even before Saturday: Should Alvarez get past Kermit Cintron next week, let’s see these two Mexican youngsters go at it next.
(I now return to my writing vacation. Don’t forget to stop back by during the week and check out what the rest of the staff is up to, though. You have read some of these guys, right? They are GOOD.)