A fight between WBC middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Andy Lee is being worked on for June 2 on HBO, according to MaxBoxing's Steve Kim. The fight, if it takes place as being currently discussed, would be Chavez's third straight bout in Texas.
Chavez (45-0-1, 31 KO) is coming off of a grueling 12-round win over Marco Antonio Rubio on Saturday in San Antonio. Most of the chatter since the fight has centered on Texas' lack of post-fight drug testing, with neither Chavez nor Rubio tested, something Rubio's team is planning to formally protest.
On the drug testing front, the WBC was the early target, but they blamed the Texas commission. The Texas commission is attempting to take that blame, claiming they simply forgot all about the testing, which was what the WBC had said before about themselves, according to Rubio's team -- that they "forgot."
Lee (27-1, 19 KO) won a pair of fights on HBO in 2011, beating Craig McEwan in March and then Brian Vera in October. He was scheduled to fight on the March 17 Martinez vs Macklin card on HBO, but dropped out to pursue a fight with WBA titlist Felix Sturm, a fight that ultimately wound up going to Sebastian Zbik.
The Irishman was named as a potential Chavez opponent not even hours after the Rubio fight, and it's something that serves a few purposes, really:
- It's a solid fight for Chavez. Lee is pretty much right on the same level as Chavez is these days. For those who say Lee once lost to Brian Vera, yes, he did -- but Chavez has arguably deserved losses against the likes of Matt Vanda, Zbik, and Luciano Cuello in the past. It's not like he's totally dominated that level of opposition.
- It's a lot better than a fight between Chavez and Antonio Margarito, so we win out in that respect, anyway. The WBC seems highly reluctant to sanction Chavez vs Margarito, too.
- Lee is promoted by Lou DiBella -- the same Lou DiBella who promotes Sergio Martinez. With the whole "Chavez must fight Martinez OR ELSE!" thing constantly floating around to the point that the WBC really does have to enforce it or just admit they're playing favorites, this could be a backdoor option to extend the "or else!" part of that. If DiBella (and Martinez by proxy if not by true choice) work out a deal to not lose his mandatory status but allow Chavez to fight Andy Lee, DiBella has the chance of Lee beating Chavez and ending that headache. Truth is there's very little DiBella can do to force Martinez vs Chavez. If the WBC won't make it happen, it won't happen. This is DiBella's chance to lift that belt from Chavez without Martinez even in the ring, and then a Martinez vs Lee fight would be a snap of the fingers for him to make happen after that, assuming the WBC doesn't threaten to strip Lee for not immediately rematching Chavez, which I guess could happen but would really look bad.
Like I've said a few times, including back before Top Rank rejected Chavez vs Lee late last year due to Lee being a southpaw, I think this is a really good fight for both, and should make for a good TV fight, too. I honestly can't imagine these two putting on a dull fight. Lee likes to fight, so does Chavez, and it could turn into a hell of a battle.
The June 2 date makes sense for various reasons. First of all, it's obviously plenty of time to get Julio back in the ring, Lee isn't busy, and it would help serve as a week-before lead-in for both HBO and Top Rank to further promote Manny Pacquiao's June 9 pay-per-view fight with Timothy Bradley. Chavez in that role makes a ton of sense, as he brings in viewers as well as anyone in the current HBO stable of regular fighters.