Chavez Jr vs Zbik: Toe to Toe

By Joseph Herron: Back in March, Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez was forced to relinquish his WBC middleweight title to proceed with his March 12th bout versus Sergiy Dzinziruk at the MGM at Foxwoods in Connecticut.

According to the HBO brass, the WBC mandatory opponent Sebastian Zbik was not a “credible” enough challenger for Martinez, so “Maravilla” willingly handed his coveted WBC strap to the German fighter, and went on to successfully defeat the current WBO junior middleweight champion on primetime HBO.

Fast forward to Saturday, June 4th, when Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will attempt to win his first world title against, you guessed it, current WBC middleweight champion Sebastian Zbik on HBO.

Evidently, the undefeated German fighter has been deemed worthy of an HBO telecast now that he possesses the trinket that Bob Arum wants for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. It’s no secret that Arum has been lobbying to HBO for quite some time to place Chavez Jr. in a favorable slot on either “Championship Boxing” or “Boxing After Dark”, only to be turned down in previous years.

HBO wasn’t very pleased when Arum signed a promotional agreement with Showtime, their rival network, to broadcast Pacquiao’s fight with Mosley, and in an effort to “make nice” with Top Rank, HBO approved the Chavez vs Zbik fight for a B.A.D. telecast.

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.

Fortunately for the fans, we now have a competitive fight on our hands.

T A L E O F T H E T A P E

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr – This tall, rangy fighter will forever be in the shadow of his father, Mexican boxing legend Julio Cesar Chavez; but, he is a very different type of boxer/puncher.

Born in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, JC Jr. is a 6’0” orthodox fighter with a 73” reach. Despite having a record of 42-0-1 with 30 KOs, he has yet to be truly tested and has never won a major world title. Although Chavez Jr receives a lot of criticism from fight fans and boxing scribes alike for not progressing as quickly as anticipated, he is still only 25 years old, and without a deep amateur pedigree, he continues to learn on the job. Most of his detractors forget that the “wunderkind” turned pro at age 17 after having only 3 amateur fights.

When Chavez Jr initially entered professional boxing as a 6 foot jr. lightweight, he had thudding knock-out power while utilizing an aggressive, Mexican inside fight style. Eventually moving through 6 different weight classes, the knock-outs became more scarce; knocking out only one opponent in his last seven bouts.

As a result, under the tutelage of trainer Freddie Roach, JC Jr has taken on more of a counter-punching style at a new measured pace. He utilizes his height and reach very well, working everything off of his long rangy jab.

At 160 lbs, Chavez Jr. has been a more intelligent and resourceful fighter than he has exhibited in years past. In this division, he absolutely has to be.

Although against Sebastian Zbik, he must put on his hard hat and get back to work. Chavez Jr. must use a hard forceful jab to work his way in and throw combinations on the inside to the body and head. Don’t worry about trying to stop Zbik in this fight…he must out work him while landing the harder more effective shots either using jabs and lateral movement on the outside or body shots and uppercuts on the inside.

Bottom line: Chavez Jr. must fight at a much busier pace and get his punches off first for this fight or he will run the risk of losing a decision to the craftier German fighter.

Sebastian Zbik – Born in Neubrandenburg, Germany, this 5’11” fighter is very mentally and physically tough. The 29 year old pugilist has a strong amateur pedigree and is quite proficient at adapting to an opponent’s style. His record is 30-0 with only 10 knock-outs, but Zbik has shown that he can indeed punch at times.

He has very good hand-speed and throws very tight, quick combinations. What Zbik lacks in power, he more than makes up for with skill and resourcefulness. He has an above average chin and isn’t afraid to work on the inside.

“Sea-Bass” Zbik comes from the Fritz Zdunek school of boxing; a lot like Vitali Klitschko and Zsolt Erdei, the German born fighter will throw in combination and turn his opponent, making it very difficult to counter effectively.

His current trainer is former Zdunek protégé and longtime lightweight champion Artur Gregorian.

With over 150 amateur fights and an excellent corner behind him, Zbik has remained undefeated for a reason.

Against Chavez Jr, he must utilize his sneaky right hand counter underneath the challenger’s long straight jab to dissuade the younger fighter from using it all night. By moving in and out with 3 and 4 punch combinations, and while turning his opponent after landing effective and accurate shots, the Zbik riddle will prove to be very difficult for Chavez to figure out in just 12 rounds of boxing.

He has only fought outside of Germany a handful of times and has never fought outside of Europe. It will be interesting to see if he can carry his usual brand of mental and physical toughness inside the hostile confines of the Staples Center.

Bottom Line: In front of 17 or 18 thousand Chavez supporters and only 10 knock-outs under his belt, Sebastian Zbik will have to make a very convincing case to win a decision and defend his title successfully.

Zbik is trying to become the first German fighter since Max Schmeling to successfully defend his world title in the United States…hasn’t happened in 80 years.

Prediction:

I think this fight will be a wonderful and surprising treat for most. Both men are undefeated and have a lot to prove; not only to themselves, but to the entire boxing universe.

Zbik will give Chavez a lot of problems with superior hand-speed and sharp, crisp combinations early in the fight.

But, in the mid to late rounds, Chavez will begin to use his height and reach advantage and control the fight from the outside.

The fight will be largely tactical but with great action on the inside from time to time.

When the final bell sounds, Zbik will relinquish his title to the younger fighter in a close and controversial split decision.

Chavez Jr will become the new WBC Middleweight Champion of the World, but not after some controversial drama.

The Chávez, Jr. vs. Zbik world middleweight championship fight will take place Saturday, June 4, at STAPLES Center, which will be televised live on HBO’s Boxing After Dark.

The event will be highlighted by a celebration of the boxing career of Julio César Chávez Sr, who will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame the following week.

Joseph Herron also writes for Examiner.com of San Antonio and can be reached at herron.joseph2112@att.net for any questions or comments.

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