Julio Cesar Chavez Jr may take a step up in 2012, but how big of a step will it be? (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
After his fifth round TKO win over Peter Manfredo Jr tonight in Houston, televised by HBO, WBC middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr's next fight is, of course, being discussed by all manner of folks, from media to fans to promoters -- both his and those of his potential rivals.
Here are a few names being bandied about tonight.
Lou DiBella, who promoted Manfredo tonight, promotes legit middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, and promotes Andy Lee, said after the fight, "Would love to see Chavez Jr. and Andy Lee. Would be a war and, probably, a new champ."
Lee (27-1, 19 KO) has won fights on HBO this year over Craig McEwan and Brian Vera, both entertaining bouts where Lee improved his standing in the eyes of the network and TV boxing fans. He's entertaining, and I agree with DiBella that it would most likely be a very good fight. Neither Chavez nor Lee are afraid to mix it up. They're also not on drastically different talent levels, and the fight would serve as a step up for both, really, as they try to make their marks on the middleweight division. I actually quite like this fight, and it may be the most realistic idea out there.
When DiBella made the above statement about Chavez vs Lee, I asked him if he'd given up on Sergio getting his promised shot at Chavez's WBC title. Lou responded, "Yes, and if I promoted Chavez, I wouldn't let him (fight Sergio)." (Though of course this was all in CAPS LOCK.)
Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KO) is, as said before and is well-known, the real champion of the division. The politics behind his having to give up the WBC belt earlier this year were absurd, but I've long felt that there's no real need to see him face Chavez. What's the point? At the very, very, very best, Chavez is a back-end top 10 guy in the division right now. There are many fights out there for Martinez that are superior challenges. If Sergio took it for the money -- and, more importantly, if Top Rank would allow it to happen -- then I'd understand that, but from a competitive standpoint, there's just no need.
Freddie Roach, Chavez's trainer, said after the fight that he does believe Martinez is overrated and that he'd like to see Chavez fight him. And Chavez said he's ready for Martinez. And Bob Arum said he hopes to see Chavez vs Martinez by the end of 2012. But it's all just talk for a fight that has little chance, as it stands, of happening.
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez
Chavez and Alvarez's promoters at Top Rank and Golden Boy have both expressed serious interest in the fight. Oscar De La Hoya says he'd love to do the fight with a 156-pound catchweight, and the weight would be just one of three big snags in making the fight happen. The three biggest reasons it will be hard to make this fight happen are:
- Top Rank and Golden Boy working together to make the fight. They say they're willing to co-promote right now, but both sides have been firing off a lot of shots in the press lately.
- The weight. Chavez fights at 160 and has rehydrated to 185 and 179 in his last two fights. Alvarez fights at 154. Can Chavez boil down any further than he has been? Can he really get to 156, a weight he hasn't made since 2009, especially considering reports that he lets himself get out of shape between fights?
- A big one: They have deals with rival TV networks in Mexico. Chavez fights on Azteca, while Canelo fights on Televisa.
I think the fighters really might be willing, and the promoters may be willing to make what is basically a very rich fight where neither man can lose much public support. It's just a fight Mexican fight fans, especially, want to see. There's a lot of money in it. There are also a lot of possible roadblocks.