CHAVEZ Jr., ROWLAND: son of a legend moves to middleweight. / Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank
MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nov. 14
Graham's Odds: 
Chavez Jr. -1200; Rowland +800
Over 6.5 -120; under 6.5 +100

The slow and careful buildup of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. continues with a 10-rounder against Troy Rowland, a 34-year-old from Michigan, on the Pacquiao-Cotto show in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Chavez, a 130-pounder when he turned professional six years ago, has matured into a big, strong middleweight (the bout with Rowland has been at 160 pounds).

There will come a time when Chavez is matched at the world-class level, but at the moment he is still gaining experience, having turned professional at 17 without an amateur background to speak of.

Chavez has had some struggles, barely getting a draw with Carlos Molina and narrowly winning the rematch, trailing on points before overpowering Ray Sanchez III and having to dig deep to eke out a win over Tobia Loriga.

In his last fight, though, Chavez gave an impressive display of hard, fast and accurate punching to demolish Jason LeHoullier in the opening round. It was no surprise that Chavez beat LeHoullier, or even that he stopped him, but a one-round blowout really hadn’t been expected.

It will be interesting to see if Chavez can reveal similarly explosive form when he meets Rowland, a tall, rangy boxer who has won two bouts this year after taking a three-and-a-half-year break from the sport.

Rowland was once considered to be a prospect, with wins over useful fighters such as Andrew Council, Kenny Ellis and the tricky southpaw Manning Galloway, while in his most notable victory he showed great heart and conditioning in surviving a rocky seventh round to come back and outscore the heavy hitting but often wild-swinging Epifanio Mendoza. Rowland was stopped in seven rounds, though, by the Ecuadorian, Fernando Zuniga, four years ago, one of his two losses in 27 bouts. I didn’t see the fight but, from what I can gather, Rowland got caught by a big punch in the first round that dropped him heavily, and although he got up and gritted it out for six more rounds he could never get back into the contest after the early flooring.

I thought that Rowland showed good boxing ability and a high level of fitness in the win over Mendoza in their ShoBox fight, which was held in a 16-foot ring that favoured the Colombian slugger. ("No one’s going to be able to hide tonight,” quipped the commentator Nick Charles as he noted the ring size — and on a side note I know that many people in the game will be glad to see Charles back at ringside, providing commentary on Saturday’s international telecast, after his recent bout with cancer.)

Chavez, let’s face it, is expected to win on Saturday, and possibly well inside schedule. I’m not sure it will be another quick KO because Rowland seems well prepared and is a better mover than the slow, in-front-of-you LeHoullier. This is the biggest fight of Rowland’s life, almost like fighting for a world title — a PPV appearance on the most important show of the year, matched with the son of a legend.

I have a feeling that Rowland won’t want to play it safe, and that he will come to win. This should make the fight entertaining, but Rowland runs a risk if he gets caught up in exchanges with the bigger puncher.

Rowland could have early success but I don’t think he has the firepower to keep Chavez off him for 10 rounds. Chavez can be hit, but his hooks and right hands can do damage.

I see a similar sort of fight here to Chavez’s wins over Ray Sanchez and Jose Celaya, with the underdog putting up a spirited showing only to get broken down and overpowered any time around the sixth round.

Last Updated: 
November 11, 2009 - 1:57pm