On Saturday, June 16th, at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX, the boxing world recognized three very important details after watching the WBC Middleweight Championship contest between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and "Irish" Andy Lee:
1) Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has one of the best chins in boxing
2) Chavez Jr. is a much tougher fighter than most realized
3) To avoid a controversial decision, knock your opponent out
Throughout the first three rounds, Lee peppered Chavez with a healthy dose of jabs, solid right hooks, straight lefts, and uppercuts. While Junior attempted to close the distance on his 6'2" opponent, Lee displayed his skillful footwork and ring intelligence by either tying up the relentless aggressor or stepping around Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
For the majority of the first three stanzas, Lee was able to keep the incumbent title holder at the end of his punches and at a relatively safe distance.
To begin the seventh and final round, Lee was pushing his punches and threw nothing to detour the aggressive champion's pursuit. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr pushed Andy Lee against the ropes and landed a perfect right hook to the jaw while Andy was about to throw a counter of his own.
Sensing that his opponent was badly hurt, Junior continued to throw hard shots to the body and head of a very foggy Andy Lee against the ropes. While Lee was being hammered by the reigning champ, the third man in the ring, Lawrence Cole, stepped in and called a halt to the bout at the 2:21 mark of round number seven.
Although the stoppage seemed just to most, some at ringside believed Lawrence Cole pulled the trigger on the bout too quickly.
When asked if the stoppage was justified, Lee's legendary trainer had mixed emotions.
"Andy's never going to complain about the referee's call," explained Manny Steward. "That's just the way he is. Even though Andy had shown a history of being able to fight through adversity, he was hurt when the ref jumped in."
Chavez Jr. entered as the #3 middleweight contender in the world according to The Ring Magazine. Lee, a 3/1 betting underdog, was unranked by the same publication.
Lee was ahead on two scorecards 58-56 at the time of the stoppage. The third judge had the bout even.
The winner will meet Ring/Lineal middleweight champion and Top 10 pound-for-pound fighter Sergio Martinez later this year.
3rd defense by Chavez Jr.
The bout saw a heavier presence by security including pat downs, bag checks, helicopters, and snipers as there was thought to be the potential for violence from Mexican drug cartels. The fight was canceled for less than a week in April when a Homeland Security Investigations intelligence report, given to the University of Texas System, said leaders from both the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels might be in attendance.