Chavez Jr.

June 22, 2010 7:04 AM


Though John Duddy won’t be tough out

Being a son of a gun doesn’t make you a pistol, even if your father was top gun. The question this week, though, is whether Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. can stop trying to emulate his dad and make what could be a tough fight a lot easier.

J.C. Lite may be undefeated and he figures to stay that way next Saturday night in San Antonio, scene of his father’s greatest crime, when he faces the aggressive, pugnacious and over-rated John Duddy in a pay-per-view contest designed mainly to make promoter Bob Arum richer.

This is not a very important fight, despite the presence of two good ticket-sellers. Chavez has been trading in on the name of his father, one of the greatest Mexican fighters in history, all during his accelerated 41-0-1 career.

His opponent, billed as "Ireland’s John Duddy" just in case you have any doubts as to his ethnic ties, has sold out houses on his native island and in his adopted home of New York City.

Neither guy can fight much. It says much that Duddy, who has struggled with some less-than-ordinary types, is viewed as by far the toughest opponent the 24-year-old Chavez has faced. The Irishman, soon to be 31, had his 29-1 record marred by a split decision loss to an 18-7 fighter named Billy Lyell. He blames the distractions of going through manager and trainer chaos.

Chavez is the big favorite here, maybe 7-2 with a buyback rate of 5-2 on Duddy. Many ringside veterans have big doubts about the son also rising. J.C. Lite has been accused of being lazy, though his new trainer, Freddie Roach, claims he hasn’t seen any signs of sloth, which Arum said was good, otherwise "he’d have his ass kicked" by Duddy.

Still, Chavez was a couple of weeks late (visa problems were blamed) reporting to Roach’s gym in Los Angeles and came in 20 pounds over the 160-pound contractual limit, a harsh reminder of his having to serve a seven-month suspension for using a banned diuretic to make weight for his last fight in Las Vegas.

Duddy has 18 knockouts on his ledger – Chavez has 30 – but I believe these are the results of cynical matchmaking more than of punching power. On paper, at least, it should be one of those "entertaining" scraps between two less-than-brilliant competitors.

But not if Roach gets his way, which is to make Chavez use his height and jab and stop trying to imitate dad and brawl away on the inside.

"It’s difficult to get him out of it," said Roach. "He wants to fight like his dad, who was 5-foot-7. It’s like he doesn’t realize he’s almost 6-1."

J.C. Lite, who had virtually no amateur experience, is not exactly a carbon copy of dear old dad. The facial resemblance is there, though Junior has no puffiness; his father now looks permanently as if he just got through 12 rounds of Pernell Whitaker counters.

Roach thinks the younger Chavez has a good jab, when he remembers to throw it. The guess here is that his memory will be jogged by Duddy’s constant pressure and Chavez will resort to trading blows on the inside, the way he likes.

This doesn’t mean he can’t win a decision. Hell, the fight’s in the Alamodome, which is where his father got outclassed by Whitaker and still came away with a "draw" (maybe Chavez won four of the 12 rounds).

A few years later, Carl Moretti – then working for Main Events for a Kevin Kelley fight in San Antonio – was assigned to pick up WBC president-for-life Jose Sulaiman at the airport. He said when he drove by the Alamodome, the man who has ruined boxing so badly that he is in the hall of fame, muttered, "Here is where they did such terrible thing to Julio."

Chavez junior has already received some questionable judging on his behalf. For that matter, so has Duddy – but in Texas, and for some sort of WBC trinket (pay no attention), the odds are not in the Irishman’s favor.

I think Chavez will get the nod, though I doubt if he’s worth laying the odds, and I’d hate to bet on Duddy and then curse the judges. It could be fun to watch, but I’m hoping there’s another Sandra Bullock film at my neighborhood cinema.