Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. And Nonito Donaire Win One-Sided Fights

Nonito Donaire (28-1, 18 KOs) and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (44-0-1, 31 KOs) both won one-sided fights in San Antonio Saturday night on HBO. The undercard really ought to have been the main event, though, given Nonito Donaire’s pound-for-pound status, and his incredible record over the past ten years. And he kept the record clean this time, as well, dominating Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. (21-1-1, 18 KOs) through most of their junior featherweight fight, landing something on the order of 68 more punches, at a 42 percent connect rate, and 91 more power punches. And, who knows, had he had two hands to work with it might have ended sooner. After the fight it was clear he had injured his right hand badly. It looked as if Vazquez may have had a nail between his teeth during the fight, judging by the amount of blood on Donaire’s wraps post-fight.

As for the main event, Chavez seemed to invoke his father’s style through most of his middleweight fight versus Marco Antonio Rubio (53-6-1), acting like a bull chasing a Shetland pony around a bathroom. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t scintillating (until the last two rounds) but Chavez landed bigger, harder punches, controlled the ring against a guy whose punches seemed, by comparison, to land with the authority of wet matzo, and closed it with enough authority to make it unanimous.

On the undercard Vazquez was game throughout the fight, and frankly it was remarkable to see the Puerto Rican actually pick up steam in the closing rounds against a fighter who should have shut him down, psychologically, by the 5th. Maybe it was a pity vote, but one judge actually gave it to Vazquez, even though Donaire scored a knockdown in the 9th round, the first time Vazquez has hit the canvas. Who’d have thunk something like that could happen in boxing. In the post fight, Donaire said his hand injury happened somewhere between the 2nd to 4th rounds. And he admitted he wasn’t happy with his performance. No surprise. Before the fight he said this was the rare fight in which he wanted vengeance after the contretemps between him and Vazquez having to do with tweeting wives, and a game of sartorial whack-a-mole at the final press conference, where the two fighters toyed with each other’s hats. Never reverse Donaire’s hat.

And if the question is whether Donaire can punch his way up through the higher weight divisions, well, this fight didn’t actually answer it, though it might have been more conclusive had he had two fists to work with. But it also showed that the extra four pounds make a difference, as Donaire has lately fought at bantamweight. Clearly his punches don’t wreak the same havoc at junior feather that they do at the lighter classes.

In the first few rounds it certainly seemed as if a Donaire-induced force majeur of Vazquez consciousness would be the likely outcome as the former out-punched, out-danced, out-slipped Vazquez, keeping him completely in his shell with the unreal whiplash counters and uppercuts whenever Vazquez ventured anything more audacious than the left jab. Actually the left jab was, through most of the fight, Vazquez’ most effective tool, swelling Donaire’s right eye, and giving him more visible damage than he has suffered through several of his last fights combined.

Donaire tried something unusual (for Donaire) in the 2nd round: huge body shots, which he pretty much quit using after the 4th. Vazquez found his way in with maybe one right hook, which proved to be effective when he used it without getting slammed for his troubles, which happened constantly, with Donaire punctuating the round with a huge left. Donaire landed 20 to Vazquez’ nine punches in the round, per CompuBox. By the 3rd round it really looked as if the fight would be a short one, as Donaire, after dropping his arms and mocking Vazquez, lunged in and wobbled Vazquez even though it didn’t land clean, and nearly dropped him.

Donaire dominated the 4th, and 5th, holding up his right glove as if it were a mitt, and he was offering Vazquez something to punch. But Vazquez began to find rhythm in this round, landing a hard right hand, a jab. Donaire rolled with a Vazquez right and counters. Still, the 5th was Vazquez’ best round so far, even though he paid for it. Somehow Vazquez was finding a comfort zone, if that were possible to find against someone who punches like a sewing machine bobbin, from all angles.

But Vazquez picked it up in the 6th, even though Donaire landed a big uppercut. The former connected with two right hooks, which seem to have found a way to Donaire’s mug without the usual lightning reprisal. It was a good round for Vazquez, though, as he connected with jabs and right hooks several more times. In fact, by official numbers Vazquez landed 11 more punches in the 6th round than Donaire. Things changed again in the 7th round, with the two going toe to toe, until a hard left hook wobbles Vazquez, but the fight, remarkably, seemed to be evening out at this point. And by the 8th round, Donaire’s face looked as bad as Vazquez’, who has a big mouse over the left eye.

In the 9th round it was a hard right by Donaire, an uppercut and left hook that dropped Vazquez for the first and only time, both in the fight and in Vazquez’ career (heretofore). But Vazquez got up fast and even grinned as if it had been his fault for making a defensive mistake, which is what, basically, he told his father/trainer between rounds. In the 10th, Vazquez had Donaire on the ropes, though the latter got the better of it and skiped out. Both connected, but Donaire was all over him at round’s end. It seemed as if Vazquez might have been ready to go in the 11th, as Donaire was all over him, dancing from one corner of the ring to the other, swiping at Vazquez pretty much at will, but the latter got out of the round, and the 12th closes with both fighters connected well. It was, for most of the fight, one-sided, but Vazquez won a Pyrrhic victory.

You could look at the Julio Cesar Chavez vs Marco Antonio Rubio middleweight fight a couple of ways. Way one: Chavez showed utter brilliance. Not in his boxing, but in his handlers’ ability to be spot-on in choosing appointments for the young heir apparent. Rubio’s style seemed tailor made for Chavez. Way two: Rubio fought the wrong fight against a guy who isn’t all that fast, but wins with body punches and a come-forward style. Still, it was impressive to see Chavez looking strong through the fight. After all, he came into the ring having had a hell of a time making weight. Oh, and he was arrested on a DWI two weeks ago. Rubio is a tad taller than Chavez, but it’s the mass that matters (no pun intended): Chavez outweighed Rubio by something like 10 pounds coming into the ring. Rubio had nothing for Chavez. “Lets go for everything bitch, let’s go” were his trainer’s words before he stepped in for round 9.

In the 1st round, well, you could see that these guys were BIG. Before the bell rang, HBO’s Larry Merchant asked, “Is youth wasted on the young or will youth outrun its mistakes?”  I was trying to figure that out as the bell rang. Yes, these two guys looked a lot bigger than middleweights. By the 3ird round, it was clear that the head-to-head wasn’t going to work for Rubio, as Chavez was landing the only meaningful punches, forcing Rubio onto the ropes and carving into him with body shots. The inside fighting definitely favored Chavez, who, throughout the fight, muscled Rubio to the ropes often, where he shook his foundations and cut notches in his rafters.

In the 4th, Chavez again pressured , pushing Rubio into the ropes, but Rubio countered effectively in the middle this time and managed at round’s end to get Chavez on his heels with a pair of effective punches. Rubio, though, seemed almost to be waiting for Chavez to tire out.

In the 5th round, Chavez’ full body assault seemed to begin to wear Rubio down, though it must have been Rubio’s idea to wait until Chavez got worn out. Surely, having problems making weight would tire him out? Didn’t happen. Chavez was even more aggressive in the late rounds, controlling the space and pace, with Rubio simply lacking the gunpowder to take the doors off Chavez.

The middle rounds were boring, though, and Larry Merchant pointed out that the fact that the fans were doing the wave means they concurred. Finally, in the 11th round Chavez laid into Rubio, landing the kitchen sink, but Rubio stayed in, and hammered back. And in those last two rounds the crowd was on its feet as both fighters hammered at each other right up to the bell. I don’t think Chavez is an interesting fighter, and I’m not convinced he’s as good as he’s being groomed to be. But he showed moxie in this fight against a guy who — as Rubio proved stopping David Lemieux — is not prone to roll over. Whatever Chavez was drinking that night two weeks ago? Maybe he should drink it more often.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.