Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Andy Lee: An Expert Trainer's AnalysisWritten by Joseph Herron
On April 24th, at UTEP's Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX, Top Rank, Inc, kicked off their official promotion for the upcoming HBO televised event featuring WBC Middleweight Champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (45-0-1, 31 KOs) and 160 pound title contender Irish Andy Lee (28-1, 20 KOs).
The epic battle has been slated to take place on June 16th, 2012, with the eventual winner scheduled to face universally recognized Middleweight Champion Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez on September 15th.
Now that the countdown for this highly anticipated match-up has formally commenced, expert trainer James Gogue analyzes this intriguing Middleweight contest.
"This is a very big fight for both combatants," professes the experienced boxing mentor. "This is not only the toughest test to date for both fighters, but a golden opportunity for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Andy Lee to prove their worth on the biggest stage of boxing, HBO."
"An opportunity like this doesn't grow on trees, and I'm expecting the best version of both boxers to show up on June 16th."
While both men have been featured on the premium cable network previously, this highly publicized match-up should serve as a signature fight for both pugilists at this stage in their respective careers; especially for the 6'2" southpaw from Ireland. June 16th will commemorate the first world title opportunity for the Kronk Gym fighter.
Courtesy, Chris Farina, Top Rank
"Andy Lee has experienced difficulty in the past trying to get the big title fights. Now that he's received his big marquee bout, you'd better believe he's going to be ready and focused for Chavez Jr."
While Gogue expects Manny Steward's Middleweight protégé to be at his best on June 16th, the 28 year experienced trainer dissects the Irish fighter's strengths and weaknesses.
"Andy Lee has a lot of strengths and very few weaknesses. He is a fighter who has great range in the ring. He's 6'2" southpaw puncher. This is automatically going to create a lot of problems for Chavez Jr. throughout the contest."
"Anytime a southpaw fighter faces a right handed opponent, he always has the advantage because he is already predominately accustomed to facing right handed fighters in the gym. Most orthodox fighters rarely get their sparring from southpaws. When a right hander is finally scheduled to meet a southpaw in the ring, he is usually forced to take a crash course in preparation for the eventual bout. Most southpaw fighters I know don't even like to face other left handed fighters for this reason."
"But in order for Lee to take advantage of his southpaw stance he must keep Julio Cesar Chavez Jr at a distance. There is no southpaw advantage when a fighter is at close range. A fighter's body and head is there to be hit when an opponent is inside, regardless of stance and position."
"Andy is long, rangy, and he has very good footwork. He also works behind the jab extremely well and likes to set up his entire arsenal of punches after occupying his opponent with the effective jab."
"Lee likes to touch his opponents with the long jab and use it like a measuring stick, and then 'Boom'; he'll drill them with the powerful straight left hand down the middle. To most orthodox fighters, that straight left hand comes in at a very odd angle. Unless a right handed fighter has grown accustomed to seeing it regularly, it usually causes a lot of problems."
"Andy also has a tremendous right hook that he uses in conjunction with the jab, and it is very effective. If his opponent is able to get into mid range, Andy has a very good uppercut that he can use as well. He rarely throws body shots and likes to fight tall while using his reach to his advantage."
"His jab and his footwork is the foundation of his defense. He uses both extremely well to keep his opponents at a safe distance. Most fighters who have tried to get inside of Andy Lee's defense find that it is quite difficult; especially after they've eaten a couple of hard shots while trying to move in."
"But when a fighter is successful in getting inside of Lee's defense, Andy likes to tie up his opponents and hasn't shown a proficiency to fight on the inside. This is one of his weaknesses. Andy isn't a very effective fighter at close range. Most of the damage that he inflicts on his opposition is from mid to long range."
Courtesy Chris Farina, Top Rank
"His most effective weapons are his long jab, straight left hand, and his counter right hook. Andy fights effectively with a straight-up, European style. Most fighters with this style have trouble with tough pressure fighters who have good chins."
"But, Andy Lee has shown great improvement and intelligence since suffering his first loss to a tough pressure fighter who had a good chin. He learned from his first fight with Brian Vera back in 2008, and seems to handle pressure a lot better now. Under the tutelage of Emanuel Steward, he has learned not to panic and not to simply stand in the pocket and trade with a pressure fighter. Lee ties up his opponents effectively on the inside or steps to the side and uses his jab to create distance between him and his opposition now."
After sizing up the big punching southpaw, James Gogue breaks down Chavez Jr's positive and negative attributes.
"Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is in your face the moment that bell rings. Yes, trainer Freddie Roach has taught him how to box more effectively from the outside, but Chavez would be unwise to try and outbox a taller opponent who uses his height and reach as well as Andy Lee does."
"Chavez is an excellent pressure fighter who likes to make things physical. He his proficient at grinding and pounding his opponents at short range while using short hooks and uppercuts on the inside. He is also proficient at throwing those short hooks to the body on the inside just like his Dad. This will be a key factor in this fight if Julio Cesar Chavez Jr plans to have any kind of success against a fighter like Lee."
"One of Chavez's biggest assets going into this fight is his sturdy chin. He'll need one against Lee to take those hard shots Andy will throw at him while he's trying to work his way inside of his opponent's defense. Although Lee is a couple of inches taller than Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Junior's size will also be huge attribute going into this fight. If he comes into the fight weighing 185 pounds like he did for his last fight against Rubio, it's going to be hard for Lee to tie Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. up effectively on the inside."
"Chavez's style is nothing fancy. But, it you have a great chin, can cut off the ring effectively while applying great pressure, and can throw short, compact hooks on the inside to the body and head, it's always a very difficult style for any boxer/puncher that depends on creating distance to handle. A fighter like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr is very hard to defeat."
"The biggest weakness Chavez possesses is his occasional lack of discipline and lack of preparation. On the day of the weigh in for the Rubio bout in San Antonio, TX, he was heavy and had to work extremely hard to get the weight off. His lack of conditioning could drastically affect his chances against a tall, rangy fighter who knows how to use the entire ring effectively."
"Two weeks before that bout, Chavez was also arrested for a DUI in California. Against an opponent like Andy Lee, he cannot afford to have those lapses in focus or he could get knocked out. He has to be at his mental and physical best against a very dangerous puncher like Lee."
While Gogue believes Andy Lee possesses all of the tools to have a successful night on June 16th, the experienced trainer feels the title challenger will have to score a knock-out to take the title from the incumbent champion.
"Although the venue and crowd shouldn't make a difference in scoring a fight, it unfortunately does. This fight is going to take place in front of a pro-Chavez crowd. With every effective or ineffective punch thrown by Chavez Jr, you will hear the crowd erupt even if the punch doesn't land cleanly. Couple that with Chavez's aggressive fight style and it spells disaster for the visiting boxer/puncher."
"Many ringside judges favor the fighter who is pressing the action and pursuing their opponent, and I believe Andy Lee will have to score a knock-out to win the WBC Middleweight Championship. If he thinks he can win a decision by boxing a more aggressive opponent in front of a predominately pro-Chavez crowd, Lee is living in dreamland."
"Lee must think about the idea that Chavez is on the verge of becoming a big pay-per-view star with a very large Hispanic fan base. The winner of this fight will more than likely face Sergio Martinez in a big pay-per-view event. How many fighters out there are legitimate pay-per-view stars?"
"Chavez Jr. is on the verge of becoming a big time earner for Top Rank and a true pay-per-view attraction. Lee must knock him out to in order to play spoiler on a Top Rank fight card in Texas."
After careful consideration, trainer James Gogue sees two possible scenarios playing out in Texas on June 16th.
"If Chavez comes into the fight conditioned properly and is prepared to go twelve rounds hard rounds with Andy Lee, I think Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will be able to cut off the ring effectively and work his way inside of Lee's defense. But, Chavez has to be properly conditioned because he'll have to cover a lot of ground against a tall, rangy fighter who can move."
"If Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. doesn't come into the fight conditioned to work for all three minutes of every round, I can see Andy Lee using his jab to control the distance efficiently while shooting straight left hand bombs as Chavez is trying to come inside."
"Although I think Chavez will have trouble with Lee, I don't know if the visiting challenger can stop the defending champion. Unfortunately for Andy Lee, I don't think he'll be able to win a decision and I don't think he can knock Chavez out."
"My final prediction is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will win a close but unanimous decision over Andy Lee to retain his WBC Middleweight title."