Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Earns Respect with Victory Versus John Duddy
Is it time to start taking Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on his own merits as a legitimate world title contender? That certainly hasn’t been the narrative in Chavez Jr.’s career as he’s been oft-maligned in the past as someone who has reached an elevated position within the sport thanks to a record padded by plenty of fights against a poor level of opponent and his famous name. His father is legendary former world champion Julio Cesar Chavez.
For the son, it’s been a hard road to carve his own path within the sport. Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio gave him an opportunity to significantly enhance his reputation in the sport when he took on Irishman John Duddy for the WBC Silver middleweight title. The belt was not as important as the fact that the bout was a chance for Chavez Jr. to prove himself against a tough, veteran fighter and put himself into position for a major title fight in the near future.
Chavez Jr. made the most of his opportunity. Working for the first time with top trainer Freddie Roach, Chavez Jr. (41-0-1, 30 KOs) overcame being hurt midway through the contest to control the fight and win a unanimous decision victory over the game but overmatched Duddy (29-2, 18 KOs). While promoter Bob Arum’s declaration that “a new star” was born on Saturday night might be a bit of classic boxing hyperbole, it’s true that Chavez Jr. showed more in this fight than ever before and proved that he at least has the potential to be a championship-level fighter.
Many people thought that the fight could turn into a total war from the opening bell, but Chavez Jr. had different ideas. He controlled the action from the outside in the opening round, using his reach advantage and jab to keep Duddy from coming forward. Chavez Jr. looked crisp early as he was able to catch Duddy several times with left-right combinations and left hooks to the body.
However, Duddy was able to turn the fight into more of an inside battle starting in the fourth round. Duddy found success early in the round but Chavez Jr. was able to take control back by establishing his jab later in the round. This continued through the middle of the sixth round, when Duddy caught Chavez Jr. flush with a right hand in the centre of the ring that staggered his opponent and had him wobbly. However, Duddy was unable to dish out any more punishment and appeared to throw himself out trying for a knockout in the round.
The sixth round was a classic “gut check” moment for Chavez Jr. as he needed to rely on intelligence and grit in order to avoid taking a big knockdown in a fight that he was winning easily up until that point. Chavez Jr. responded by taking control of the fight from the seventh round on. He hurt Duddy with a big right hand that staggered Duddy at the end of the eighth round and he was able to continue the pressure to punish Duddy – who was on rubbery legs by this point – throughout the ninth round.
The only fault that you could have with Chavez Jr.’s performance was that he wasn’t able to put away Duddy after he was hurt. However, it’s a small knock on what otherwise was a fine performance by Chavez Jr. that went a long way to establishing his credibility within the sport. Duddy is a tough, spirited fighter, and many other fighters would have wilted when faced with Chavez Jr.’s repeated assaults late in the fight. But the same could be said for Chavez Jr. after he was rocked in the sixth round. The fact that the was able to regain his composure and finish the job will help to earn him points within the sport.