Julio Cesar Chavez Jr picked up the first major belt of his professional boxing career with a decision win over Sebastian Zbik tonight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, winning a majority decision on scores of 116-112, 115-113 and 114-114. Bad Left Hook scored the fight 116-112 for Zbik. In the co-feature, Mikey Garcia knocked out Rafael Guzman in four.
I'd give you the nuts and bolts of the main event, but you probably already know. For years, HBO didn't get into the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr business, and a lot of that was or is because he's not a very good fighter. He draws fans, and he's not embarrassing, and he's a tough kid who seems to try his very best. As someone in the live thread said, it's not Jr's fault that he's basically a pawn in the business game of boxing. He's popular. He's going to be put into positions where either a win is a given, or he can win without much terrible controversy.
There probably won't be much outrage over this. I can't muster up much, either. And to be fair to Chavez (43-0-1, 30 KO), he closed the fight strong, and he won the last two rounds clear and clean. He did some good work in the fight, wearing Zbik (30-1, 10 KO) down with body shots over the course of the fight. He did his job, fighting the man in front of him to the best of his ability.
And as much as I understand that the gate receipts and the huge fanbase will make the world go 'round, we're talking about a genuinely mediocre fighter who has been protected and will continue to be protected. Do you think Top Rank puts him in the ring with someone like Marco Antonio Rubio? They'll look for the right matchups, so he can keep winning, and keep pulling in all that money. He's a cash cow. I accept it.
But it doesn't mean I have to like it, either. Yes, I'll point out that Timothy Bradley can't draw flies to shit, but I don't do so with glee or anything. Bradley is a good fighter who has fought and beaten other good fighters. It's a shame that the general indifference to boxing means that Timothy Bradley has an uphill climb to be a "star."
Chavez, on the other hand, was born into this, and basically unless he was truly, almost unnaturally bad, this was going to be his life. The green belt and the afterglow of the "big win" and eventually, inevitably, the biggest TV network in the U.S. boxing land having to tout him as a second coming.
So I sort of come to a point where I have to wonder what disappoints me more -- a good fighter who can't draw for whatever reason, or a mediocrity who can and will always be treated like royalty, until he can no longer pack the house?
I said before the fight that I couldn't think of an HBO main event where I thought less of the skill level of two main eventers. I stand by that after we've seen them fight. This happened because the United States is not overcrowded with popular boxers.
It's not that I'm disappointed or upset or anything. Actually it's the opposite -- I have no emotional reaction to this at all. It was predictable. I completely disagree with the decision on who won the fight, but I expected I would disagree once we got past the fifth round or so.
The cash cow got his green belt, and now can celebrate, and everyone involved can toast champagne into the wee hours, and they can all get together in a week and figure out how to accentuate the positives and hide, if not eliminate, the negatives. It will carry on as it has.
I'm sure some will think I'm being harsh, and that's fine. It's not that I hate Chavez's fights, or really have anything against him. Again, he's just doing his job. It's just that every once in a while, the reality of a situation like this one just sort of gives me that big, empty feeling. I shouldn't have watched, maybe. It's not like I had to to know what would happen.
He is what he is, and he will almost certainly never be more. He's not good enough. But he is popular enough, and he's got the right name and the right fanbase. And he fights hard, and with real pride. It's not all bad. But it's sure as hell not truly good.
And life goes on.