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Know Your PPV Undercard, Pt. 3: Chris John v. Rocky Juarez II


The final part of the Mayweather-Marquez undercard preview discusses the biggest and most important fight of the preliminaries, and is a bout featuring the world's best featherweight, who only can't be called "champion" just because.

Chris John and Rocky Juarez first met on February 28, a disputed 114-114 draw across the board in Juarez's hometown of Houston, a fight city whose reputation plummeted last month after building nicely with one of 2009's best cards on that February night. I scored the bout 115-113 for John, but Juarez made an impressive late run and nearly stole a win. It was a good, back-and-forth fight, and most importantly, it finally brought Indonesian Chris John to American soil.

Featherweights, 12 Rounds - For John's WBA Featherweight Title

The Skinny On Chris John: John is a class boxer, a technician and a tactician who has few peers when it comes to "thinking man's boxing." He lives on being smarter than most of the guys he faces. In fact, he's probably smarter than he is good, and he's pretty damn good as it is.

He's never been beaten, and his most famous bout for years has been his win in Indonesia over Juan Manuel Marquez, a fight that has been debated plenty. (We just might have a feature on that fight very soon, in fact.)

He's not that powerful (42-0-2, 22 KO), not terribly fast, but he's slick, a "cutie," and he showed a strong chin against Juarez in February. Juarez is a pretty strong guy when he's fighting at 126, and he hit John with just about all he had in him. You could even say it wasn't really among John's best performances, though it was against one of the best opponents he's ever faced and is one of his very highest-profile fights. John flew under the radar to some degree for a long time, and was chided by American diehards for never fighting in the States (or outside of Indonesia much at all). I think he made some fans with his American debut, because he showed he's the genuine article.

Here's part of the conclusion of the John-Juarez bout, starting with the final minute of round 10 and going into an excellent round for Juarez in the 11th:

The Skinny On Rocky Juarez: Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, so to speak. Juarez was a super hot prospect, unbeaten headed into a 2005 fight with Humberto Soto, who hadn't lost in years but was just 36-5-2 at the time. It figured to be a tougher fight than normal for Rocky, but surely he would win. Instead, Soto eked out a decision win, the first time Rocky lost when fighting for a major title (interim WBC feather strap). Since then, it's been up and down for Rocky.

He was a late substitute against Marco Antonio Barrera in 2006, his second major title shot, for which he moved up to 130 pounds. He lost a highly-competitive, somewhat controversial split decision to Barrera and was granted a well-earned rematch. The second time, though, Barrera took Juarez to school and won decisively. He won two fights after that (including one on the Oscar-Floyd undercard), and then got a shot at Juan Manuel Marquez, the man who eventually did take Barrera's title. Marquez demolished Juarez in November 2007, but to Rocky's credit, he never quit in that fight, taking a beating that would make some good fighters throw in the towel.

His September '08 stoppage of Jorge Barrios on a gruesome lip cut got him a title shot at John, and though he started somewhat slow, he seemed to be aware of it this time. It was, I think, the best Juarez has ever fought, and the rematch is deserved again.

Scott's Pick: This is what I said in the post-fight analysis for the February show:

I had John winning 115-113, and I truly feel he won the bout. He vastly outlanded Juarez, who snuck in some rounds on good power punching, particularly late in the fight when the drama got high and it felt like the Houston crowd might will Juarez into a stunning knockout of John.

Rocky also fought arguably his best fight ever, maybe even better than the first go-'round with Barrera. But it was clear at most points that John is simply a better boxer than he is. If they rematched, I think John would probably win wide. This was a good, competitive fight. But so, too, was Barrera-Juarez. The rematch saw Barrera pick Rocky apart for 12 rounds.

I stand by it. Rocky won't have the hometown advantage this time, John has seen basically the best he can offer, and like I said, that wasn't the best Chris John. I think the best Chris John shows up this time and wins a wide decision. If it goes that way, Juarez will be 0-5-1 in title shots, and his manager said before the first fight with John that they weren't sure he'd ever really get over the hump, which is an odd thing for managers to say in public. I like Rocky a lot, but I just don't think he's good enough to beat Chris John.

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