Julio Cesar Chavez Jr trains for John Duddy
‘Son of the legend’ – as ring nicknames go it’s perhaps not the catchiest moniker in boxing, but for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, treading in the footsteps of his father was never going to be easy.
Let us not forget the fighting pedigree Jr is following – Julio Cesar Chavez is a living legend – a god amongst men in his native Mexico, a force of nature and quite possible one of the greatest fighters in history.
So Julio Cesar Chavez Jr had some intense level of expectation on his shoulders when he emerged as a pro boxer. With a career carefully managed and promoted by Top Rank he quickly racked up a seemingly amazing record of 40 straight wins and 1 draw, becoming the mainstay of their Latin Fury boxing cards. Things are never that simple in boxing though and the level of his opposition was more often than not made up of journeymen and has-beens.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Freddie Roach
He was regarded by the wider boxing fraternity as a sideshow, a celebrity boxer perhaps. His work ethic was widely reported to be less than perfect and there were no big name challenges or a true fight that hinted at real talent beyond going through the motions.
That has all started to change of late though…starting with a move to famed trainer Freddie Roach and his first ‘live’ opponent last weekend in Ireland’s John Duddy. Chavez seemed to come of age in this fight and glimpses of a real talent shone through. With Roach’s tutelage and conditioning, Top Rank’s mentorship of his career, and Chavez Snr on hand to give out a lifetimes hard learnt lessons in the ring, the future is suddenly looking more than rosy big name fights await him. At 24-year-old he has the world at his feet – as long as he keeps winning!
It seems a lifetime ago since the Puerto Rico boxer Miguel Angel Cotto campaigned at light-welterweight. There has been many a tough fight for Cotto since then, Cotto has consistently been in the most exciting, brutal and most competitive fights in boxing’s hardest divisions. His roll call of opponents is second to none – Manny Pacquiao, Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito and Zab Judah to name but a few. There have been brutal wars, fights with controversy, fights with drama, bloodshed, but at all times its been exciting.
Cotto had a lot to live up to right from the start – for a boxer hailing from Puerto Rico you have to not only face your opponent across the ring, you have to face the legends that have gone before you – Wilfredo Gomez and Felix Trinidad and many more are icons of the fight game in Puerto Rico, where boxing is the national sport. Trinidad’s departure from the limelight just as Cotto began to emerge as a force on the world stage didn’t make it easy for this future 2 time world champion to shine. Cotto could be awkward at times – not always effusive in interviews, here was a fighter that truly preferred to let his fists do the talking. For a public used to the quick smile of Trinidad, that was a slow journey to take Cotto into their hearts in the same way. Cotto has only really emerged as a superstar from his appearances in HBO’s wonderful 24/7 documentary for his fight with Pacquiao.
Despite his later popularity Cotto has often found himself in tough spots throughout his career. Antonio Margarito inflicted a terrible beating on Cotto in their fight – this at the time seemed to shatter the image of the indestructible Cotto. However in his next fight Margarito was caught with illegal padding (plaster of paris lumps) on his hands, suddenly Cotto’s loss was forgiven. In that fight Cotto had led the scorecards in the first half of the fight, before Margarito’s seemingly enormous strength disfigured Cotto to the point where he took a knee in submission. Taking that knee in submission is a damaging thing in boxing. Suddenly Cotto found himself vindicated – if muted – Top Rank his promotional company also promote Margarito so he was unlikely to publically discredit his stablemate even after Margarito was suspended for a year.
Enter in the era of Cotto the wronged fighter, tainted after Margarito’s beating, excussed but still potentially damaged goods. Cotto did what he’s done all along – take another tough fight and keep on keeping on. Enter fighters like Shane Mosley, fighters still at a peak of sorts and universally avoided by most other fighters. Cotto took him on, walked through fire and came out with a decision victory. It wasnt a walk in the park though. He took easier nights later against trumped-up Contender winner Alfredo Gomez and others but he kept on fighting. Then came Pacquiao.
Cotto at the weigh in for his fight with Manny Pacquiao
Pacquiao brings the mega-fight. He brings HBO money too. Cotto was competitive at first despite being robbed of raining champions right to have the fight at his weight and having his belt on the line. It was clear that Pacquiao was calling the shots – demands of $1 million for every pound that Cotto came in over the agreed weight was publicied when the deal was signed. Boiled down to 145 pounds (welterweight being 147) Cotto somehow looked the smaller man to Pacquiao and as the rounds went by he began to be broken down by the sheer aggressive brilliance of Pacquiao. On the way to be stopped on a TKO defeat in the 12th round Cotto showed plenty of guts, he didn’t quit but he took a beating.
His next fight against Yuri Foreman is up a weight at 154 pounds – super welterweight, so the assumption inside the Cotto camp must be that he can’t boil down to the same fighter at welterweight or below. Foreman is a WBA world champion and regarded as an awkward customer. He has never been in a war though, doesn’t have a career of competitive tough fights against him. Will years of the experience be Cotto’s edge or his undoing? We will find out on June 6th when Cotto Foreman collide at Yankee Stadium.
Antonio Margarito training for his comeback fight
Former world champion Antonio Margarito returns to ring in Aguascalientes, Mexico this coming weekend, after a crushing technical knockout defeat and a years suspension respectively. Margarito was once the man to be avoided in the welterweight division – a massive brawling, Mexican tough guy that broke his opponents down with seemingly endless brute strength. Margarito was dodged shamefully by the ruling elite in the welterweight division – you never heard Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao calling him out for a fight.
Handwraps changed everything though – a few months after his astonishing, violent beat down of Miguel Cotto, Margarito faced off against modern legend Sugar Shane Mosley. Once again Mosley seemed willing to fight just about anyone for a pay-day, there were few pundits or fans alike that were picking him to be anything other than cannon fodder for Margarito though. Before the fight however, in Margarito’s dressing room, Shane Mosley’s trainer Nasim Richardson noticed something was wrong. It was the handwraps. More accurately its was what fell out of the handwraps onto the floor that caused concern – lumps of hardening plaster. Furore broke out – the plaster lumps were seized by the boxing commission, and Margarito entered the ring after having his hands re-wrapped three times.
The rest as they say is history. The man who entered the ring against Mosley was a shell of his former ring self. He was battered in brutal fashion, and knocked out in nine rounds. Mosley had vindicated himself as a reborn fighter and Margarito’s myth was shattered. That was just the start of it. Margarito was eventually banned from boxing for a year – a paltry sentence to my mind as the beating Cotto took and the disfigured, swollen face he was left with at the end of that fight pointed strongly to the likelihood of Margarito using illegal padding in his previous fights. Illegal padding of gloves is about as reprehensible as its gets – the risk fighters undertake entering the ring is bad enough without loaded gloves being added into the mix.
The questions around Margarito’s comeback abound – should be allowed to return so soon if at all? How much talent and skill does he really have without loaded gloves? Should he be allowed to return so easily into world championship level in potentially big fights in the future?
If he wins on Saturday I am not convinced we will have any of the answers – the ten round fight is nothing more than a trumped-up warm up to bigger things down the line. The Mexican fans have welcomed their countryman back with open arms, but whether mainstream American fans and TV networks will do the same remains to be seen.
It’s often lamented by fans and pundits alike that there is not enough talent coming through the ranks in boxing. Luckily the hotbed of boxing that is Puerto Rico that has produced fighters like Felix Trinidad, Miguel Cotto and Wilfred Benítez has also given birth to another potential great – Juan Manuel Lopez.
Already a world champion at super bantamweight and now reigning WBO featherweight champion, Juanma is starting to show the signs of greatness that transform a contender to that elite pantheon of great fighters.
His current record stands at 28 wins, 25 by way of knockout and no losses. There have been some coming of age fights along the way though – most notably in his fight with Rogers Mtagwa, where he was forced to fight and tough out a twelve round unanimous decision. That was the kind of fight that can take a young champion out of their winning ways – as things start to go into the later round against an opponent who takes all your shots and doesn’t roll over, but Lopez got through some very shaky moments and kept his cool to do what was necessary to win the fight. Those kind of smarts tend to come in handy in a boxing career.
His conquering of Daniel Ponce De Leon was an early indicator of greatness too – this tough Mexican is well-known for his power and ability to take an opponent out with either hand. Juanma handled the fight brilliantly – have a look at some highlights below:
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Tagged bantamweight, bob arum, Daniel Ponce De Leon, edwin valero, featherweight, felix trinidad, Juanma, miguel cotto, Puerto Rico, Rogers Mtagwa, top rank, WBO, Wilfred Benítez
My personal favorite punch in boxing – the left hook to the body. Sometimes known as the left to the liver this is a punch that if applied correctly is a show stopper.
Ricky Hatton delivers a left hook to the liver
Pioneered by latin fighters who favour body punches – that weaken and drain an opponent, the left hook to the body is a classic but a hard punch to land to perfection as it relies on pin point accuracy, foot work and power all combined in an instant.
Ricky Hatton delivered such a punch in his fight with Mexican Jose Luis Castillo. The Hitman Hatton – known as the Manchester Mexican for his love of body punches destroyed Castillo in the 4th round of their Vegas fight on June 23, 2007 with the left hook to the liver – the perfect punch as it was called afterwards.
Hatton's Perfect Punch
Bob Arum the legendary boxing promoter said after the fight “In 42 years of boxing, I’ve seen that punch land maybe 5 times”.
This punch is a show stopper, Castillo said he was unable to breath after it. One look at his face tells you just how potent the effect is.
Watch for yourselves the full 4th round of Hatton Castillo and see the work that goes into positioning the punch – its no lucky shot!
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Tagged Best Boxing News Sites Around!, bob arum, boxing, fighter, hatton, hitman, jose luis castillo, left hook, mexican, perfect punch, promoter, ricky hatton, sugar ray robinson, top rank, vegas