Commentary

Improved Chavez drills through Duddy

Originally Published: June 28, 2010
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:

Saturday at San Antonio
Middleweight
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. W12 John Duddy
Wins a vacant interim middleweight title
Scores: 120-108, 117-111, 116-112
Records: Chavez Jr., 41-0-1, 30 KOs; Duddy, 29-2, 18 KOs

Rafael's remark: What looked like a toss-up fight on paper quickly turned one-sided because Chavez looked as good as he ever has in the action-packed headliner of Top Rank's "Latin Fury 15" pay-per-view card. He was fighting in the Alamodome, where he had overwhelming support from the crowd of 8,172 and where his legendary father, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., was led into the ring by his then 7-year-old son Julio Jr. for what became the all-time controversial draw against Pernell Whitaker in a 1993 welterweight championship fight. This time it was father leading son into the ring for his most significant fight to date.

In his last fight, Chavez Jr. claimed a decision in November in a woeful performance against Troy Rowland, after which Chavez tested positive for a diuretic, had the victory changed to a no-decision by Nevada regulators and was suspended seven months. In preparing for his return, Chavez, 24, made the mature decision to get himself a real trainer and seek discipline, so he turned to the great Freddie Roach. Even though they were together in Roach's Hollywood, Calif., gym getting ready for the fight for less than five weeks, whatever work they did obviously made a difference. Chavez looked to be in tremendous shape and looked very good against his best opponent, Duddy, the 30-year-old Irishman with a big following in his adopted hometown of New York.

For the first three rounds, it was obvious that Chavez was following Roach's instructions to a tee as he stayed outside and used his underrated jab. Eventually, Duddy dragged Chavez into an inside slugfest, which was exactly the kind of fight Duddy needed to win. But it didn't work. Chavez was getting the better of him, although Duddy had a big moment in the sixth round when he nailed Chavez with a right hand and buckled his knees. Chavez recovered, bloodied Duddy's nose in the seventh, and began to raise swelling around his left eye because he could not get out of the way of Chavez's overhand right, which he got cracked with throughout the fight (but Duddy showed a tremendous chin). Chavez hammered Duddy throughout the ninth round, one that could have been scored 10-8 without a knockdown because it was so lopsided. At least Duddy's corner was realistic, telling him after the 10th round that he needed a knockout to win. But Duddy never could come close as Chavez cleaned up on him again in the 11th and cruised to the clear decision in a rousing, although one-sided, fight.

It was a big step up for Chavez, who had faced mostly woeful competition since turning pro in 2003, which is why so many have not regarded him as a serious contender despite the glossy record. While it was a nice win for Chavez, he still obviously has a lot of work to do and still probably isn't a threat to the top middleweights and junior middleweights. But who knows what a full training camp with Roach could do? Afterward, Top Rank's Bob Arum talked about a possible fight with junior middleweight titlist Miguel Cotto, which might be biting off more than Chavez can chew at this point, although Roach is on board with it. Arum also talked about matching Duddy with former junior middleweight titlist Yuri Foreman, after Foreman's injured right knee heals. Foreman-Duddy would be a big fight in New York.

With the win, Chavez picked up the miserable WBC's junky silver title, which is how the organization renamed its interim titles. But if it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck … you know. So now Sergio Martinez is the champion (and the legitimate, lineal champ to boot) and Chavez has the interim/silver nonsense. But the nasty WBC also recognizes Sebastian Zbik as an interim titleholder. Oh, what fun! The WBC can join the hideous WBA now in that it will have some divisions with three so-called champions. And let the sanctioning fees flow.

Junior welterweight
Marco Antonio Barrera W10 Adailton De Jesus
Scores: 100-90, 99-91, 98-92
Records: Barrera, 66-7, 43 KOs; De Jesus, 25-5, 20 KOs

Rafael's remark: Looking to become the first Mexican to win titles in four divisions, Barrera began the final push in his legendary career as he fought for Top Rank, his longtime rival promoter, for the first time. Barrera weighed a career-high 141 pounds, but he hopes to fight for a lightweight belt within the next couple of fights after returning from a 15-month layoff. The time off followed a bloody five-round technical decision loss to Amir Khan in a lightweight fight in England in which Barrera suffered a gruesome gash. With the heavily Mexican crowd cheering him on, Barrera dominated Brazil's De Jesus, 31, whose four-fight winning streak came to an end. Although Barrera won easily, this was not a pleasing fight. Barrera, 36, is fighting -- believe it or not -- in his fourth decade (he turned pro in 1989). Against De Jesus, Barrera looked a bit slow and rusty. Of course, that is understandable given his layoff and all the hard fights he has had. Barrera played it mostly safe while turning in a workmanlike effort against a taller opponent; he dominated De Jesus and occasionally hurt him with left hands to the body. A former junior featherweight, featherweight and junior lightweight champion, Barrera said he would work to get down to 135 pounds and promoter Bob Arum intends to give him a lightweight title shot against one of two beltholders he promotes in the division, Humberto Soto or Miguel Acosta. Of course, Barrera's old rival, Erik Morales, is also on the comeback trail, so it would not come as a shock if we someday saw Barrera-Morales IV.

Junior bantamweight
Raul Martinez TKO7 Gabriel Elizondo
Records: Martinez, 27-1, 16 KOs; Elizondo, 22-4-1, 10 KOs

Rafael's remark: Martinez, 28, was a top contender with a perfect record when he challenged Nonito Donaire for a flyweight title in April 2009 and got crushed in four rounds. Now on the comeback trail, the San Antonio native won his third in a row and did it in dominant fashion in his city against his rival and friend, the 30-year-old Elizondo. This one was all Martinez, who buckled Elizondo numerous times. Martinez rocked Elizondo twice in the third but didn't score a knockdown, despite torturing him with right hands. In the fifth round, an accidental head butt opened a cut over Elizondo's left eye and the night never got better. Later in the fifth, Elizondo walked into a right hand and went down. A left to the chin dumped Elizondo again near the end of the sixth round. And in the seventh, Martinez drilled Elizondo with yet another right hand, dropping him to his backside, prompting referee Rafael Ramos to call it off with a minute to go in the round. It was an excellent performance from Martinez, who still has a chance to win a title if he gets the opportunity. Elizondo, who dropped to 0-3-1 in his past four bouts, was classy in defeat, telling his friendly rival he would root for him to win a world title.

Featherweight
Tomas Villa W8 Salvador Sanchez
Scores: 79-73, 78-74, 77-75
Records: Villa, 23-7-4, 14 KOs; Sanchez, 19-4-2, 9 KOs

Rafael's remark: In March, on the Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey undercard at Cowboys Stadium, Sanchez scored a sixth-round knockout of Jaime Villa. Sanchez didn't have the same kind of good night against Villa's older brother. Tomas Villa, 26, of Midland, Texas, got a little family revenge as he pulled the mild upset against Sanchez, who is the spitting image of his legendary uncle, the late Hall of Famer with the same name. They may look alike, but they sure don't fight alike. The younger Sanchez, 24, is very green and has a lot to learn. Villa was thought to have been the perfect opponent for him because he's an experienced guy, but he looked like he was done after suffering a first-round knockout to Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia in April. It turned out that Villa still has something left, because he did a very nice job against Sanchez and clearly won the fight, despite the 77-75 scorecard. Villa pressured Sanchez throughout the fight and worked very well on the inside, and Sanchez looked a little clueless about how to deal with it. So Sanchez's nine-fight winning streak comes to an end.

Junior welterweight
Jose Benavidez KO1 Josh Beeman
Records: Benavidez, 7-0, 7 KOs; Beeman, 4-7-2, 2 KOs

Rafael's remark: An 18-year-old former amateur standout from Phoenix, Benavidez continues to roll through his early opponents since turning professional in January. The Freddie Roach-trained Benavidez scored his third consecutive first-round knockout, dispatching Beeman, 28, of Providence, R.I., in a mere 80 seconds. Although it was a quick fight, Benavidez showed poise and patience for such a young fighter. He doesn't force the action and concentrates on a long, effective jab, using his 5-foot-11 frame to his advantage. He ended Beeman's night with a swift left-right combination to the body, cracking both flanks and sending Beeman to the mat face-first in agony. Beeman lost his fifth fight in a row. Top Rank has Benavidez penciled in for his next fight July 31 on a "Top Rank Live" card in Mexico.

Junior middleweight
Omar Henry W4 Hilario Lopez
Scores: 40-34 (three times)
Records: Henry, 10-0, 8 KOs; Lopez, 12-10, 8 KOs

Rafael's remark: Lopez did what Top Rank matchmaker Brad "Abdul" Goodman hoped he would do -- give Henry rounds. Although Lopez lost all of them, he did just that as Henry, 23, of Houston, scored the shutout victory, which included knockdowns in the first and fourth rounds. Henry, an exciting prospect, punished Lopez, 27, of Parma, Idaho, especially in the final round, when he dropped him with a wicked right hand at the start and pounded on him throughout.

Friday at Mexico City
Junior welterweight
Pablo Cesar Cano W10 Oscar Leon
Scores: 96-94, 96-95 Cano, 96-94 Leon
Records: Cano, 19-0-1, 15 KOs; Leon, 28-13, 18 KOs

Rafael's remark: Mexico's Cano had built his glossy record against complete nobodies. This time, he was matched with Colombia's Leon, a very experienced fighter who has fought outstanding competition (despite a losing streak that now stands at four with losses in nine of his past 10 fights). So when Cano, 20, was matched in a legitimate fight, the record meant nothing, and he had a very tough time against Leon, a former featherweight title challenger who dropped split decisions to Chris John and Derrick Gainer in 2003 title bouts. This was a borderline boring fight, but it was no surprise to see Cano a bit fresher and quicker than the 36-year-old Leon, who had his moments and bruised Cano around both eyes in losing the hard-fought, split decision in the main event on Telefutura's "Solo Boxeo Tecate."

Super middleweight
Marco Antonio Periban TKO5 Jason Naugler
Records: Periban, 8-0, 5 KOs; Naugler, 18-13-1, 11 KOs

Rafael's remark: Naugler, 32, of Canada, makes his living lately by fighting prospects, giving them experience but ultimately losing. That was the case against such up-and-coming fighters as David Lemieux, Donovan George, James McGirt Jr., Samuel Miller and a young Chad Dawson. Now Periban, 25, of Mexico, can add Naugler's name to his record after Periban notched the cut-induced victory. The aggressive Periban was winning the fight and had cut Naugler over his left eye in the third round. Referee Guadalupe Garcia called timeout to check the cut, which did not appear bad. In the fifth, he called time again for the cut to be checked, even though it did not appear to have gotten any worse. Later in the fifth, Garcia suddenly called off the fight, citing the cut. Naugler was furious, screaming, "I'm OK," among some expletives. It really was a poor stoppage as the cut did not look bad and was not impeding Naugler's ability to defend himself or fight back. Nonetheless, Periban gets the win.

Friday at Brentwood, England
Heavyweight
Tyson Fury TKO9 John McDermott
Records: Fury, 11-0, 9 KOs; McDermott, 25-7, 16 KOs

Rafael's remark: Fury, who turned 22 on June 1, has received as much hype as any British heavyweight in recent years. At 6-foot-7 and 270 pounds, he looks the part of a formidable prospect, but when he met the 6-3, 250-pound journeyman McDermott, 30, in September in what was for Fury a big step up, the outcome caused a huge controversy in British boxing. Many called it the most outrageous decision in British boxing history. Referee Terry O'Connor scored the English title bout 98-92 for Fury -- in British domestic title bouts only the referee scores -- and the result caused such an overwhelming controversy that the British Boxing Board of Control changed the rule to use a three-judge panel in future domestic title bouts. But in the rematch, the three judges were not needed as Fury brought his own two judges: his fists. Although referee Dave Parris deducted a point from Fury in the seventh round for holding and hitting, points weren't going to make a difference on this night. Fury scored three knockdowns, one near the end of the eight with a flurry and two more in the ninth, en route to the stoppage victory. With the victory, Fury became the mandatory challenger for the British heavyweight title and is expected to face champion Derek Chisora (13-0, 8 KOs) in an interesting match between heavyweight youngsters. McDermott has seen better days, as he lost his fourth fight in a row, although one of them was obviously the controversy-ridden first meeting with Fury.

Thursday at Worcester, Mass.
Light heavyweight
Edwin Rodriguez TKO5 Ibahiem King
Records: Rodriguez, 16-0, 12 KOs; King, 7-4, 2 KOs

Rafael's remark: Rodriguez, 25, thrilled his hometown fans and stayed on track as a top prospect -- he's a former U.S. national amateur champion and national Golden Gloves champion -- as he took apart King, who had been scheduled to fight on the card but stepped into the main event slot when Rodriguez's original opponent, Gabriel Holguin, fell out less than two days before the show. Rodriguez took a little time to figure out King's left-handed style but eventually did. He dropped King, 25, of West Palm Beach, Fla., in the opening moments of the fifth round and then dropped him again with a hard left hand, prompting referee Javier Colon to stop the fight at 1 minute, 6 seconds. King lost his third fight in a row and for the fourth time in his past five fights.

Thursday at Los Angeles
Welterweight
Frankie Gomez TKO1 Jaime Orrantia
Records: Gomez, 4-0, 4 KOs; Orrantia, 13-27-5, 4 KOs

Rafael's remark: No shock here. Gomez, the heralded 18-year-old Golden Boy prospect from East Los Angeles and 2009 world amateur championships silver medalist, picked up an easy win against Mexico's Orrantia, a rank journeyman who took the fight on short notice when Geoffrey Gaya (4-2, 0 KOs) fell out. The result probably would have been the same, which was an aggressive Gomez pressuring Orrantia immediately and taking it to him. When an uppercut sent Orrantia into the ropes, referee Pat Russell stepped in at 2 minutes, 32 seconds to stop the nominal "Fight Night Club" main event. Not the greatest stoppage ever, but the result was inevitable.

Featherweight
Gary Russell Jr. KO2 Rodrigo Aranda
Records: Russell Jr., 10-0, 7 KOs; Aranda, 8-13-2, 2 KOs

Rafael's remark: Russell, 22, of Capitol Heights, Md., was a 2008 U.S. Olympian, although he didn't actually fight in Beijing after being unable to make weight. As a pro, he's been perfect, displaying the kind of blazing speed that made him such an outstanding amateur. Russell dropped Aranda, 36, a native of Mexico living in Las Vegas, in the first round and finished him with a body attack 34 seconds into the second round of the scheduled six-rounder. The knockout was the fifth in a row for Russell, although his opposition has been soft. Aranda lost his sixth in a row and for the eighth time in his past nine fights. What makes Russell's victory stand out, however, is that Aranda had never previously been stopped.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.