Dan Rafael of ESPN tweeted a couple of developments regarding Julio Cesar Chavez Jr's next fight today. Chavez is expected to return in the spring, possibly in March, following his November 19 stoppage of Peter Manfredo Jr in Houston.
[ Related: Chavez Stops Manfredo in Five ]
One name who appears out is Andy Lee, the Irish southpaw promoted by DiBella Entertainment, because Top Rank doesn't want to put Chavez in with a left-handed fighter. Lee (27-1, 19 KO) is far from a flawless fighter, and in fact is in some ways a lot like Chavez himself: He can punch, he's fun to watch fight, and he makes mistakes defensively. Chavez vs Lee would be a very good fighter from a style matchup standpoint, but apparently at 25 (turning 26 in February) and crowned as "world champion," Chavez is not yet ready for a left-handed fighter.
Lou DiBella was pretty quick to respond, calling Chavez a "paper champ" and "a joke." Of course, DiBella was the promoter behind Manfredo on the 19th, and it's not like that fight being an HBO feature was great shakes, so...
Rafael says the leading candidate appears to be Britain's Darren Barker (23-1, 14 KO). Barker, 29, is coming off of a mildly competitive October 1 stoppage loss to legit division champion Sergio Martinez in Atlantic City. I'm not sure what the reaction to Barker getting another title shot would be, but I would expect many to balk at Barker getting the fight off of a clear loss to Martinez. As much as I think Darren is good enough to test Chavez -- who is no Sergio Martinez -- and that the fight is a step up from Manfredo (and a big one), there are still other, better fights that can be made.
[ Related: Cotto vs Margarito Winner Could Face Chavez ]
One thing is pretty obvious: Chavez will not fight Martinez next, and the WBC is going to have to put itself to the test thanks to their own guarantee that Chavez has to fight Martinez or be stripped. Top Rank's Bob Arum has also expressed serious interest in matching Chavez with the Cotto vs Margarito winner. Those two meet on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.