Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Andy Lee again look headed for a showdown on June 16. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Andy Lee have reportedly been close to a fight a few times in the last six months or so, and once again it's being reported that the bout is being targeted, this time for Chavez's return on June 16, live on HBO, in the valuable "week after" spot following Manny Pacquiao's next fight.
Rick Reeno reports that Bob Arum "likes the fight," and Lou DiBella (Lee's promoter) believes the deal will be done soon. Lee was reportedly the targeted opponent right after Chavez beat Marco Antonio Rubio on February 4 in San Antonio, and days later the fight was said to be close.
But then things changed, and Martin Murray entered the picture. Reports were that Lee wasn't desired by Team Chavez because he's a southpaw -- the same reason that he was turned down for a Chavez fight in November 2011, which instead went to Peter Manfredo Jr -- and Murray, a righty from England, looked favored to land the bout. The day after that news became known, Lee called out Chavez publicly, but it seemed pointless.
On March 20, though, another turn was taken: Murray's visa issues, stemming from some jail time served years back, prevent him from coming to the U.S. for the fight, so he was ruled out as an opponent. With few viable options right now, Lee is back in the saddle as the front-runner for the fight.
Chavez (45-0-1, 31 KO) has also had continuing talks to fight another DiBella-promoted name, middleweight world champion Sergio Martinez, but no one really seems serious about making that fight, and I include the Sergio side there. If they were really serious, they'd do more than whine and then concede to letting Chavez carry on as usual. I think they want the fight, of course, but they're going to let it come whenever it comes. They already get a PR bump and some extra attention just from the chatter, and then Sergio does his thing a couple times a year against someone else for fine money.
Lee (28-1, 20 KO) is a good opponent for Chavez. He may, in fact, be tailor-made for the Mexican brawler, because of his straight up stance and habit of leaving himself open for power shots, but I think they're well-matched and the fight makes sense. Here's hoping it happens.