Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
The declaration “this is the toughest fight of my career,” has become something of a promotional mantra in modern boxing but, in the case of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, it is apt. During his tenure as WBC middleweight world champion, La Leyenda Continua has looked impressive in stopping Peter Manfredo Jr and decisioning Marco Antonio Rubio as each opponent represented a greater test than the last, however, on June 16 at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, there is little doubt that Chavez Jr is up against his most skillful opponent as Kronk 160lber Andy Lee challenges for world honours.
“This fight between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Andy Lee is a remarkable one [as it matches] two young, handsome warriors from different parts of the world,” said Top Rank Boxing promoter Bob Arum when he announced the title fight. “Chavez Jr is from Mexico, Lee is from Ireland and each will be doing his best to make his country proud.”
Lee is a noted jabber, exquisite when keeping combat at range and is one of the most in-form fighters as he has gone from strength to strength with recent triumphs over Craig McEwan, Alex Bunema, Bryan Vera and Saul Duran.
“I am facing a tough, difficult opponent in Andy Lee,” said Chavez Jr (45-0-1, 31ko). “This will be the toughest fight of my career.”
Lee, meanwhile, commented that he is excited to have booked his first shot at a major world championship: “I am honoured to have this opportunity. I have been waiting my whole life for this. It is going to be a great show [and] boxing fans [are] going to see a world class fight!”
Lee’s promoter Lou DiBella added: “I am thrilled that Andy Lee is getting his long-deserved shot at a middleweight championship. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr deserves credit for taking on the biggest challenge of his career. On June 16 a new champion will be crowned in El Paso, Texas.”
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Sergio Martinez secured his second successive 11th round knockout as, following on from his Darren Barker stoppage last year, the lineal middleweight champion of the world rose from a flash knockdown to score two of his own before his challenger Matthew Macklin‘s corner pulled their fighter out of the bout. Macklin was game, but it was no St Patrick’s Day parade for the Irishman who was defeated inside New York City’s Madison Square Garden, on March 17.
Official verdict: Martinez by 11th round technical knockout win.
Martinez got off to a fast start, showing fantastic speed and athleticism that belied his 37-years. Martinez right hooked Macklin, landed punches from unorthodox angles and the Irish challenger’s face – particularly the brow – was left marked by the end of the opening stanza.
In the second, Martinez zipped around the outside of the ring, darting in and out from the pocket as he attempted to goad Macklin into committing power shots that he could counter. Midway through the round, a piercing chin-bound straight left hand backed Macklin into the ropes, begging the question if the ropes were not there, would he have been knocked down? The answer, may have been no, as Mack The Knife boxed with composure and clear eyes.
Macklin, in the third round, adhered to a tactic high on work-rate, out-throwing Martinez on a near 2:1 basis. And, in the fourth, he began in great fashion, connecting with a powerful right hand before maneuvering away from the danger zone in order to remain unscathed. Martinez, like he had done in the first round, caught Macklin with a shot so clean, so damaging, that it was heard thudding around the Garden, however, the challenger finished the round by landing a big right hand.
The fifth round was typified by the straight right hands from the starboard fighter, confounding Martinez, who lines up on the portside. Often regarded to be the southpaw’s nemesis, the straight right was one used by Macklin numerous times in round five and on three occasions the punch did serious damage. In order to offset Macklin’s effective aggression, Martinez jabbed more often in round six and it was an alteration that paid dividends.
Throughout round seven, Martinez was throwing and landing punches in far greater numbers than Macklin but, just when it seemed he had a 10-9 round in the bag, Macklin landed a right hand that forced the Argentine slickster off-balance, sending him tumbling over Matthew’s foot and forcing him to touch the canvas with his glove. The referee sent Macklin to a neutral corner and began counting in Martinez’s face, much to the champion’s chagrin.
While Martinez almost capitulated in round seven, relinquishing two points to Macklin’s scorecard, he was able to level the scores back in rounds eight and nine, the latter of which he was in full swing, throwing combinations of punches and showing tremendous speed – things Macklin was unable to keep pace with. While the straight right proved to be Macklin’s mate in the early rounds, the straight left was undeniably Sergio’s best shot during the contest’s middle stages.
Sergio Martinez saved his best till last, spurred on by the knockdown, fighting in form during the championship rounds, shooting from the hip and opening up a bloody cut above his opponent’s left eye. With a clearly bruised eye, blood splattered over his face like a Jackson Pollock, Martinez struck Macklin with yet another chin-bound straight left but this time, the game Irishman couldn’t stand up to it and collapsed onto his knees.
He managed to get to his feet, but after an unrelenting rally, Macklin ended up tasting the deck once more. He made it to his feet, beat the count, after the bell signalled the end of the round, but trainer Buddy McGirt called the contest off and thus awarded Martinez with another late knockout victory.
With the come-from-behind win, Martinez showed a champion’s instinct and moved to 49-2-2, 28ko, dropping his opponent to 28-4-0, 19ko.
On The Beak – Admin
Panamanian Bernardo Checa says he will give Martin Rogan the perfect tactics to bring Tyson Fury’s career to a grinding halt when the two heavyweights battle it out on April 14 at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena on the main event of Hennessy Sports “Unfinished Business” show.
Checa was the head coach for legendary Irish promoter Barney Eastwood when he was churning out numerous champions from his Belfast gym in the 1980s and 90s, including former featherweight world champion Paul Hodkinson, former welterweight world titlist Crisanto Espana and flyweight ruler Dave McAuley, a commentator for Channel 5; the broadcaster for Fury-Rogan.
The Panamanian has also trained Roberto Duran and currently works with WBA interim super-middleweight champion Brian Magee in Belfast and now he wants to add Rogan to his list of achievements when the former Commonwealth heavyweight champion meets unbeaten world number six Fury 100 years on from when the Belfast-built iconic ship the Titanic sunk in the Atlantic.
“The fight is one the same night that the Titanic sunk 100 years ago and I think that Rogie will be the iceberg who will sink the big ship Fury who everyone thinks cannot be stopped,” said Checa when speaking to the Sunday Life newspaper recently.
“I have watched Fury quite a few times and he has been hurt in many fights, he has been put down and there is a pattern, there is a reason and I plan to exploit those weaknesses. The key for Rogie is to be super fit and I will have him super fit. He has quick hands for a big man and we will have him ready to do what he has to in order to win.
“This is a massive opportunity for Rogie, all the pressure is on Fury because most people expect him to win. Rogie has nothing to lose so there is no pressure and he is going to have great support. Rogie is the underdog and I like this kind of challenge. Rogie beating Fury would be one of my biggest achievements and you know with heavyweights you just have to hit the right spot and the man will go down. They can all hit very, very hard.
“We know that Fury has a good jab and we have to neutralise that to have a chance of winning but he is also slow and that is in Rogie’s favour. I have heard people say that he has been out for a long time but I remember when Dave McAuley won the world title and he had been out for 13 months.
“Duke McKenzie’s people thought they were getting Dave at the right time but for them it was the wrong time. Rogan has had very few hard fights and he’ll be fresh and super fit and his speed can make the difference.”
On The Beak – Admin
Andy Lee, Irish Kronk middleweight contender, will headline a ‘Pre-St Patrick’s Day Brawl Boxing Event’ this Saturday evening, March 10 at the Suburban Collection Showpiece in Novi, Michigan. The event is promoted by Emanuel Steward, Kronk Boxing and will see Lee (27-1-0, 19ko) defend his NABA middleweight championship title against the durable Mexican; Saul Duran (40-19-2, 33ko).
The 160lber, presently ranked number two by the WBA and WBO rankings, views this bout as a ‘stay busy fight’ as he waits for his opportunity to challenge for a world title later this year. The event takes place six years to the day when the Irishman first made his pro debut at the famous Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on March 10, 2006.
Lee commented: “It is important that I stay active to maintain my ring fitness and sharpness. Training has gone well and I am now looking forward to defending my NABA belt.”
The main event will be supported by a crop of young Kronk stars including Tony Harrison, LeAndre White, Jacob Bonas, Ernie Garza and Wade Tolle Jr.
International Boxing Hall of Fame manager and trainer, Emanuel Steward proudly stated: “I am very excited about the event; this is the most talented group of youngsters I have had since the days of Tommy Hearns, Hilmer Kenty, Mickey Goodwin, Milton McCrory and Jimmy Paul.”
Live Streaming of the Andy Lee v Saul Duran headlining fight can be purchased here.
The Suburban Collection Showplace is located at 46100 Grand River Avenue, between Novi and Beck Roads. The doors open at 7:30 pm; with the event beginning at 8:30 pm.
Tickets may be purchased here or by calling (248) 924-5775.
On The Beak – Admin
Last Saturday, February 18, British fight promoter Mick Hennessy announced live on Channel 5 in front of millions of viewers: “I’m absolutely proud and delighted to say that we have got a massive fight at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast on April 14 – Tyson Fury, in a long awaited, fight versus Martin Rogan.” Tyson Fury versus Martin Rogan will be broadcast live on Channel 5.
Martin Rogan (14-2-0, 7ko) responded to the confirmed heavyweight duel by stating: “Respectfully Tyson’s world number six and I’m getting a great opportunity thanks to Mick Hennessy, Mickey Hughes and Tyson Fury… lot’s have gone on with the politics in boxing, obviously with the purse offers, but some of the phrases that were used against Tyson calling him a chicken and stuff like that I find very disrespectful because any man who steps in the ring is far from a chicken, and as I said, I respect the chance that I’ve been given to step in the ring.
“I’m a great heavyweight, I’ve proved that by beating Matt Skelton, the undefeated and un-knocked out guy, I beat Audley Harrison, so I got the pedigree to do the business on April 14 and that’s what I intend to do.”
Explaining his choice of opponent, Fury (17-0-0, 12ko) commented: “We sat down and it’s been a long decision, the fight has been off and on two or three times and it was suppose to happen last year when I fought at the Kings Hall and before it’s politics that got in the way of the boxing match and that’s what it’s not about.
“It’s about going in there given the fans a great fight and I know Martin Rogan, I’ve grew up my full career watching him so I’ve nothing but respect for the man. I was watching the fights when he beat Skelton and Harrison and I know he is coming firing with both hands to take what I’ve got away but, as he said, I’m number six in the world and I’m working my way to a world title shot and I’m hoping I’m going to get there.”
The former British champion of the heavyweight belt, who has wins over John McDermott, Dereck Chisora and Neven Pajkic, added: “This is going to be a great fight, there is going to be plenty of action and Rogan always comes to fight… as does Tyson Fury, and you are going to see two true warriors in the ring in a fighting country as well.”
Big Rogie then asked Fury: “Tyson, what round am I going to knock you out in?” To which Tyson jokingly responded “The first, ten seconds.”
On The Beak – Admin
Kronk Irish middleweight star, Andy Lee (27-1-0, 19ko) is ready and available to fight WBC middleweight world champion, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (45-0-1, 31ko) on June 2 or 16. Following Chavez Jr’s second successful defence of his WBC title against Marco Antonio Rubio in San Antonio on February 4, Team Lee, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum and HBO Boxing agreed in principle to the Chavez Jr versus Lee fight.
In the past few days Team Lee has been made aware that Team Chavez is reluctant for Chavez Jr to face Lee due the Irishman’s southpaw style. Team Lee strongly believes their fighter has earned his place to challenge Chavez Jr for his WBC belt.
Lee is highly ranked in the middleweight division and is currently positioned as the WBA’s number two and WBO number two prizefighter in world boxing at 160lbs. In recent months, the Kronk Gym fighter has also been knocking on the door of other world title shots, but was bitterly disappointed when he failed to secures title challenges with WBC diamond champion, Sergio Martinez on March 17 and Super WBA titlist, Felix Sturm on April 13.
The Chavez Jr versus Lee fight is a war the boxing public are intrigued to see as it pits two young fighters doing battle for a prestigious belt. This an opportunity for promoters and tv executives to rejuvenate the sport of boxing and showcase two exciting and entertaining young Mexican and Irish warriors that are popular with the US television audience.
The Irishman’s last two impressive performances live on HBO made an emphatic statement that he has the skills and attributes necessary to challenge and win a world title, 1: a barnstorming tenth round knock out victory over formerly unbeaten world ranked Craig McEwan on March 12, 2011 and 2: a boxing master-class performance against the durable Brian Vera on October 1, 2011.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was born with boxing in his blood and has followed in the footsteps of his legendary father Julio Cesar Chavez Sr, a six-time world champion in three weight divisions. After only two amateur bouts, Julio turned pro at the age of 17 on September 26, 2003 in Culiacan, Sinalao, Mexico.
Since then, the Mexican warrior’s US promoter, Top Rank has astutely promoted and guided their protege over the last eight years to become a world champion and box office attraction at the age of 26.
Andy Lee followed a different path in boxing; he had a successful amateur career lacing up his gloves at the age of 11 to go on to win a host of Irish national titles, multinational tournaments, a silver medal in the world under-19s in 2002, a European bronze senior medal in 2003 and was a 2004 Irish Olympian.
Since Lee’s pro debut at the famous Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on March 10, 2006, Emanuel Steward has nurtured and honed the boxing skills of his pupil and carefully chartered a pathway for his fighter to become a world title champion.
Lee commented from Detroit today: “I would now relish the opportunity to fight for a world title. A title shot against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr would be a challenge I would rise to. It is every boxer’s ambition to be a world champion. I would love to fight Julio for the WBC title on June 2 or 16… it would be a tough fight but I believe I have the skills to beat him. The Irish and Mexican people like a good fight, so let’s get it on.”
The Chavez Jr versus Zbik world title bout on June 4, 2011 successfully drew 1.5 million viewers on HBO and with over 40 million people in the US of Irish descent a Chavez Jr v Lee title bout has the potential to boost these viewing figures significantly and generate substantial revenue for fighters, promoters and broadcasters.
Steward, presently in Waldimir Klitschko’s training camp commented: “Andy has established himself as an entertaining fighter in America and Europe.
“I think a fight between Andy and Julio would be a great fight; they are two young fighters burning with ambition and have a track record of being in exciting fights. Andy is the most prominent and visible middleweight contender resident in the United States at this time; it makes good sporting and business sense for HBO and promoters to make the fight between Andy and Julio.”
Team Lee are confident that if Top Rank and Team Chavez are up to conclude discussions and negotiations for the fight, that a deal can be done and dusted over the next few days.
Ibrahim Harb – Birmingham
Northern Irish southpaw Brian Magee, 36, will defend his Interim WBA super middleweight championship belt at the Broendby Hallen in Denmark on February 18 as he comes up against hometown favourite Rudy Markussen (37-2-0, 24ko). Magee fought in Denmark as recently as 2010 than when the Briton beat Mads Larsen for the EBU title at 168lbs. Markussen, meanwhile, has been away from Broendby for five years and will likely receive a heroes welcome.
According to Markussen’s promoter, Nisse Sauerland, Magee (35-4-1, 24ko) will have his work cut out for him as he issued the following caveat: “Rudy has knocked out everybody we have put in front of him. He has earned his [interim] world title shot and we are thrilled to bring him back to Broendby where he can count on the boisterous support of his hometown fans.”
Sauerland continued: “Magee is incredibly tough but I am convinced that Rudy will beat him.”
Magee is a mature and experienced prizefighter. Since succumbing to a late stoppage loss to Carl Froch in 2006, he embarked on a ten-fight undefeated streak (9-0-1, 5ko) until a world title challenger against IBF belt holder Lucian Bute ended in disappointment in March, last year. However, Magee has since bounced back, trumping Jaime Barboza in Costa Rica to nick the interim version of the WBA’s super middleweight championship.
Despite his accomplishments, Markussen echoes his promoter’s sentiment… that his opponent will leave Denmark with one further blemish on his pugilistic resume. The self-proclaimed power puncher stated: “Magee is a tough champion who has proven his class in a lot of battles but I am the hardest-hitting fighter at super-middleweight and when Magee finds out about my power it will be too late for him.”
“This will be a very special night for me and my fans. I have not been fighting at home for more than five years so I want to make it a special evening for everybody. During my break I never stopped believing in myself. I knew my big day would come and here it is. With the help of my fans I will make it a night to remember.”
Tickets are available here on Friday.
Alan Dawson – London
Former world title challenger Matthew Macklin has a message for St Patrick’s Day opponent and lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez – “the Irish are coming!” Macklin, 29, attempts to unseat Martinez from his throne in the 160lb weight class on March 17 at Madison Square Garden in New York City and is calling on Irish fans from all over the world to support him at the ground dubbed; The World’s Most Famous Arena.
Prior to 2011, Macklin – a former Irish, British and European champion – had fought predominantly on the domestic and continental circuit. One fight last summer, though, propelled him into international stardom as he took on long-reigning Super WBA middleweight titlist Felix Sturm in Cologne, Germany.
Macklin (28-3-0, 19ko) took the fight to Sturm, fought constantly from the opening minute to the last and was largely expected to receive a deserved decision victory on points, however, on all three judges’ scorecards he was on the losing side.
Despite the controversial defeat, Macklin had made a name for himself and the performance itself was perceived – by Lou DiBella of DiBella Entertainment – to be worthy of adding him to his own stable of fighters and matching the England-born Irishman with his premier boxer; Maravilla Martinez (48-2-2, 27ko).
“As I have done throughout my entire career I will go up a notch for this fight,” said Macklin this week. “Sergio is going to bring the best out of me and I am very confident in my mind that I will be the new middleweight champion come March 17.
He continued: “Fighting at The Garden on St Patty’s Day – it’s going to be like I’m fighting in Dublin. The Irish are coming from all over the world to see this [and] the atmosphere is going to be electric!
“It is an honour to have the opportunity to fight here at MSG where so many great fights have taken place. I am proud and privileged to be a part of this great tradition.”
Providing the co-support to Macklin and Martinez’s main event is technically-savvy Andy Lee, a product of Emanuel Steward’s renowned Kronk Gym set-up in Detroit and, like Macklin, a pugilist cut from Irish cloth. Lee is a fast-rising contender in the middleweight division and enjoyed a breakout 2011 as he stopped Craig McEwan in a thrilling Celtic War in March, won a one-sided decision over tough journeyman Alex Bunema in May, before avenging his only defeat by boxing smart and overseeing Brian Vera with ease in October.
On the St Patrick’s Day undercard, Lee (27-1-0, 19ko) is currently without an opponent, but has the fists and experience to compete for a world title later in the year – something promised to him by promoter DiBella. “I want to thank Lou for letting me showcase myself on this show,” Lee said.
“There is nothing more I can wish for then to have this opportunity to fight at MSG on St Patrick’s Day. I consider myself as a serious contender and I hope to get my title shot in 2012. I’m not sure who my opponent is going to be yet, but I promise you a good St. Patty’s Day beating.”
On The Beak – Admin
Pressure fighting Irishman Matthew Macklin (28-3-0, 19ko) and unorthodox Argentine Sergio Martinez (48-2-2, 27ko) lace their gloves up for a St Patrick’s day fisticuffs on March 17 inside New York City’s historic Madison Square Garden and the two middleweights engaged in the customary head-to-head prior to a world championship fight that has The Ring magazine title on the line. Andy Lee is the co-feature who is facing an, as yet, undetermined opponent.
Ibrahim Harb – Birmingham
Middleweight contender Andy Lee, a 27-year-old Irishman who was born in London but operates out of Detroit, Michigan, has vowed to wrap a world championship belt around his waist in 2012, proclaiming this year to be his. Trainer Emanuel Steward, who owns the renowned Kronk Gym, has long had high praise for one of his premier prizefighters, labeling Lee the “most prominent and visible 160lber in the United States”.
“I am 28 this June with nearly 30 fights under my belt. I have grown as a fighter and I am now ready and prepared to challenge for and win a world title,” said Lee (27-1-0, 19ko). “It is every boxer’s ambition to be a world champion and I believe this is my year.
“I have positioned myself nicely in the world ratings as a legitimate world title contender. In boxing, what you want, what you deserve and what you get are all different things. Boxing is a business as well as a sport and sometimes things come down to timing and being in the right place at the right time. I believe I am at that juncture in my career and I am more than ready for a title shot.”
He continued: “After my fight on March 17, I want to move up the WBC ratings and capture the number one spot as the mandatory challenger to the WBC title. I would relish the opportunity to fight [Sergio] Martinez, [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr, [Marco Antonio] Rubio, [Matthew] Macklin or [Daniel] Geale in a championship fight. I have the skills and power to beat any of them.”
Indeed, Lee’s skillset is not in question. The technically-savvy southpaw enjoyed a masterful 2011 in which he overcame Craig McEwan in a thrilling fight dubbed ‘Celtic War’ on the Martinez versus Serhiy Dzinziruk undercard in Connecticut in March. It was Lee’s debut performance under Lou DiBella’s promotional banner and the boxer-puncher did not disappoint as he secured a stunning tenth round technical knockout.
Lee followed that victory up with a shut-out ten round decision win over Alex Bunema in May, before avenging his sole defeat – to Brian Vera – in another one-sided victory, at the Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, in October. Lee is now ranked sixth by the WBC, third with the WBA and first with the WBO and, should he – as is expected – seal victory on St Patrick’s Day, on another Martinez undercard than a shot at Macklin or Sergio will presumably follow at the year’s end as all three pugilists share the same representative; DiBella.
His coach, Steward, believes that his fighter not only has the talent that warrants a world title shot, but also possesses the marketability to guarantee lucrative earnings for the broadcaster: “Andy is presently the most prominent and visible middleweight contender resident in the United States at this time; it makes good sporting and business sense for the television executives, promoters and sanctioning bodies to stage an Andy Lee world title fight in 2012.
“Andy is in the prime of his life and given the opportunity will give champions like Sergio Martinez and Julio Chavez Jr all the trouble they want. He is a superior technical boxer who can punch with both hands. No matter what fight Andy Lee is in he has the fans on the edge of their seats.”