The opponents -- Peter Manfredo, Jr. and Kermit Cintron, respectively -- are feasible, if not frightening, threats to the prospects of Chavez vs. Alvarez, and they share a history of having fought on NBC in a time when boxing hasn't had much exposure on the big four networks. Manfredo is a step down in competition for Chavez, who got quite the unexpected scare in his last fight against Sebastian Zbik. Manfredo is an earnest middleweight, can box a little and more often than not brings it, but he's also on his last legs. In theory, he'll put up a fun fight against Chavez -- who, at his best, is pretty fun himself -- before likely losing.
Manfredo, most famous for appearing on NBC's "The Contender" back in 2005 and popular in his hometown of Providence, R.I., has lost badly to divisional top-10 names Joe Calzaghe and Sakio Bika but also lesser lights Sergio Mora, Alfonso Gomez and faded Jeff Lacy. He was struggling for several rounds with journeyman Daniel Edouard in his last fight before Edouard foolishly dropped his hands coming out of a clinch and Manfredo clipped and dropped him. Edouard never got his legs back and Manfredo controlled the rest of the fight to get the decision. Manfredo's best wins are over people on Edouard's level or a bit better, like Scott Pemberton and David Banks.
Manfredo isn't blessed with any natural ability of note, and might be more cursed by the lack of it. He isn't fast, to say the least. He has flashed big power in both hands at times, as he did against Edouard with a right hand and a surprising Knockout of the Year candidate over Walid Smichet via a left hand in 2008. Those, though, are exceptions. What he does have is some toughness, sometimes an excess of it, like when he opted to trade punches toe-to-toe with Bika despite that being a horrible, horrible strategy. And when he wants to, he can box a bit -- he puts his punches together well, has a decent jab and can move his feet. I say "a bit" because on the defensive side of the sweet science, he's sorely lacking, mainly because of that lack of speed. That's where the toughness comes in handy. He's been stopped on his feet twice, but clearly doesn't go down without a fight.
Chavez, too, is about a slow as they come on this level. Talent-wise, he's marginally a top-10 middleweight. That win over Zbik landed him in the division's top 10, even if many think he didn't deserve the decision win. It did reestablish his action bona fides; the John Duddy win got him halfway there, and the Zbik fight did the rest of the work in erasing a pedestrian and boo-worthy bout against Troy Rowland on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto. It's important that Chavez maintain those action bona fides. A certain percentage of Mexican fans are always going to be fans of his because of his dad. Maybe a certain percentage of people hope Chavez can live up to the potential of his genes, but it's unlikely even with Freddie Roach in his corner that he'll be very good any time soon, if ever, especially considering his reputation for not liking to train. But as long as he's in some nice brawls, that's where he makes his bones with the non-Mexicans and non-optimists.
Chavez might be the only boxer of this level of fame (high) or accomplishment (meager) who gets hit with literally every punch that comes his way. I'm not misusing "literally" there. I don't think I've seen Chavez dodge a punch ever. That, naturally, means that in order to win he has little choice but to stand toe-to-toe and trade, and like Manfredo, he likes punching in combination, so you can see why he gets into some action fights. His body attack is particularly ferocious, the one area where he takes after the old man, even if the imitation is pale. He has occasionally shown an understanding of using his height and length to his advantage, although he often abandons it when the volleys begin to accumulate. His competition hasn't been stellar, as he has no amateur career to speak of and only recently began to fight anyone with a pulse, but he's also shown the ability to take a punch so far, the occasional knee wobble aside.
The good news for Manfredo is that Chavez is no Calzaghe or Bika. The bad news is that worse boxers than Chavez have beaten Manfredo. If Manfredo can dodge a few punches for once, or if he can outwork Chavez, maybe he can pull off the upset decision and win with his boxing skills or volume. It's not as if Chavez has beaten anyone as good as Manfredo, either, setting aside the questionable Zbik win. Manfredo also fared better against common opponent Matt Vanda than did Chavez, back before Chavez hooked up with Roach and improved some. More likely, though, Chavez is going to be too young and fresh for Manfredo for Manfredo to outwork him or dodge enough of his punches, and in the event things are close on the scorecards, Chavez is going to get the edge from the judges.
Manfredo, when not talking about his plans for retirement, has said in the build-up to this fight that he's aiming for an Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward war and trilogy out of this. That's a commendable goal. It doesn't seem likely. But in a fight that doesn't have much else going for it -- it's unlikely to shake-up the pecking order in the middleweight division, it's not going to feature a lot of skill and it is candidly a warm-up fight for another fight -- if we could get something half as good as Gatti-Ward, it would be worth something more than the ratings that come with Chavez' name.
Now I know why Julio Chavez Jr. is afraid to fight David Medina. "STRICTLY BUISNESS" . After watching the fight Chavez looked weak and vulneralbe and if Manfredo had a knockout punch Like Medina; Chavez would have NOT been able to with-stand his powerful right hand. MEDINA has been chasing Chavez for a Fight, but Jr. keeps RUNNING......Someday Chavez will have to fight a REAL contender and hard hitting boxer like MEDINA to see if he really has what it takes to be a champion, but i doubt it... Chavez will continue to fight under-matched fighters with glass jaws.
Like a few of these other guys I also like Junior a bit more than many seem to. He's usually entertaining to watch, and Tim you're spot-on mentioning his body work. Some of those shots are fairly rough and I think he generally gets underrated.
That said, I'm in the small boat giving Manfredo a legitimate shot at the upset here, but I'm thinking it kinda hinges on Pedro's age/mileage. If he can hang in and throw, I think he can do well and sting Junior. But if he's all lethargic and sleepwalk-y in there like he was in parts of the Lacy fight, he's losing.
@PatrickConnor Where did I get this rep for disliking Chavez' entertainment value? It's the main thing I talked about. If people want to like his talent level more than I do, though, there's a lot of room for that.
I give Manfredo a legit shot, too. I don't think he'll win but this is a closer fight than the gambling books have it, in my opinion.
If Manfredo steps on Chavez foot 17+ times but Chavez still gets the decision win it will be because Manfredo is trying to cheat. Agree or Disagree.
Yeah, I'm a little bit more friendly on Jr.'s prospects. I thought Zbik outboxed the hell out of him early but he was shaky in the late rounds and had no pop on his punches after about the sixth. Zbik might not pack a ton of heat, but you gotta admit Chavez took a lot of shots that night and was never terribly rattled or hurt by them. I like a Chavez Jr. and a Matthew Macklin and I don't see some enormous gulf in class there.
@JFoley I think I scored the Zbik fight a draw or a narrow win for him. Some people had it bigger for Zbik.
I think Chavez would lose to Macklin. If there's not an enormous gulf, I think that says more about the middleweight division than it does Chavez. It's not like anyone sees Macklin and goes, "Wow, what a talent!"
Feel like you were a little harsh on jr here. He is only 26 and there is still room to improve and he already has a belt. The zbik win is better than anything Canelo has done. The signs are that he has been more dedicated of late as well. Add to that he generally works hard in the ring and what is not to like. Rather see jr fight than Tim Braddley by a long way.
@ThePJ I tend to agree. Keep in mind though, that I was among the minority that saw the Zbik fight as a clear Chavez victory. I don't think enough credit was given for Chavez' body work. He might always have problems like that though, because as Tim says, he never moves his head.
@StiffJab@ALEXMAC@ThePJ I disagree, slightly, on Zbik, ThePJ. Thought Rhodes was a better fighter, coming in. Anyway, it's not like I was comparing Chavez to Alvarez. And Jr.'s low dedication level is widely thought to have killed that weird interim Ron Hearns fight. As for watching him fight: Yeah, I'd generally prefer Chavez-anyone over Bradley-anyone. But there are certain Bradley fights I'd take over a Chavez fight in a second.
AM and GN: That was a close fight all the way!
Anyway, the three of you: You'll notice I explicitly said that he's a fun fighter sometimes. He's had a fair number of duds, too, though. Overall, I also like watching him fight.
i don't see any realistic way for Manfredo to beat Jr. on the scorecards & i honestly don't know enough about either guy to say whether or not he's got even the puncher's chance of a KO. i missed most of JCC-Zbik since i was in Boardwalk Hall for Froch-Johnson that night - though we did manage to catch the last 4 or 5 rounds on TV at a sports bar down the walk afterwards. in any case, i see the potential for a good scrap between these 2 guys, that's really the best i'll be hoping for come fight night. Manfredo's fightin' spirit is commendable & if he wants to aim for a Ward-Gatti style rivalry, then all the power to him, but barring an immeasurably close 12 rounds or some Mares-Agbeko level incompetence from officials/judges/etc., it's hard to imagine him getting a rematch, regardless of how this bout goes. as you mentioned, the big, big, big money fight they're all waiting for is with Alvarez - if Jr. proves he can get thru Manfredo, however it happens, i doubt his team will want to take the time to fight the last war when so much money is waiting for them just over this hill. still, i'll be watchin' & hoping that a fiery shootout is waiting to go up... (whatever may happen from then on is somebody else's problem...)
@InfernoSilver I don't think he's got a puncher's chance. Chavez takes a good shot and Manfredo's power is usually not stellar.
You're right about how Manfredo doesn't get another shot at Chavez if it's a good fight... unless, maybe, if he wins.