Mark your calendars for February 4th when boxing’s first big card kicks off the new year in old San Antone at the Alamodome when Nonito Donaire battles Wilfredo Vazquez Jr for the vacated WBO superbanty title that Vazquez used to own.
WBC middleweight belt holder and Son of the Legend, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr may or may not be sanctioned to defend against the extremely dangerous Marco Antonio Rubio, but the fight seems to be on regardless. Basically WBC El Jefe Jose Sulaiman is in a feud with Bob Arum over some such silly comments each has made about the other recently, so we’ll have to see if these two old frogs can kiss each other into princes again for the belt to be officially on the line.
The Donaire/Vazquez fight is the intriguing one since Donaire is a Ring ranked P4Per moving up to his superbanty debut after a spectacular 2011, knocking out Ring P4Per Fernando Montiel and shutting out undefeated Argentinean legend Omar Narvaez.
Vazquez Jr was the amazing son of a Puerto Rican legend making his 3rd defense of his title when upset by the even more amazing Jorge Arce last year, so 2012 is his comeback year. Punching is his signature, winning all his title fights by spectacular KO until being knocked out in the last round by Arce who made their encounter into a dogfight. Vazquez had his moments and now knows what to expect from this elite level. While I expect Donaire to prevail, he better be at his best for this or else.
I am truly astounded that Bob Arum is risking a future projected superbout and Chavez Jr’s undefeated record against a dangerous puncher in Rubio. It takes the size, strength and chin of a Kelly Pavlik to take the fight to Rubio without being knocked out. Rubio can also be outboxed by a wary quality boxer, none of the above the sort of traits the much maligned Chavez is known for.
Junior is as game a fighter in boxing today, fighting hard against prospects and fringe contenders as he was slowly rounding into championship shape. While he hits hard enough for respect, the knockout is not his specialty any more than sublime boxing skills are. His dedication to his craft and conditioning have been suspect in the past, but moving up to the middleweight division seems to have suited him perfectly. His trainer Freddie Roach must see a quality gemstone in this rough diamond to have tutored him all these years, so Rubio is the next step in the development.
David Lemieux was an up and coming knockout artist and contender being fast tracked to a title shot before he was mistakenly matched with Rubio last year. Rubio took some wicked shots and didn’t seem long for this world, but Lemieux’s weakness was his youth, 23 years, and lack of rounds, only 65 rounds in the bank due to his ferocious early round stopping power. When the steam ran out and he had to start moving in reverse, the wily ring veteran walked him down and finally got him with a right behind the ear that took his legs out and crashed the back of his noggin into the turnbuckle. Ricky Hatton couldn’t come back from his heading of the turnbuckle in the Floyd Mayweather Jr fight either, so perhaps Lemieux can get back into the mix once he gets his training issues sorted.
Chavez seemingly does have his training issues sorted with a solid 211 rounds in the boxing bank and having stepped up his recent competition. His biggest unknown will be the same as Lemieux’s though, never having faced a big puncher. Additionally he gets hit much more than Lemieux who has quick feet and defensive moves to go with his power.
At any rate, it’s a quality set of action style match ups to kick off the new year, so catch it if you can.