Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chris John vs Rocky Juarez II Preview

Michael Nelson previews the June 27th featherweight rematch between Indonesia's Chris John and Houston's Rocky Juarez.

Photo © Tim Barry / timbarry.wetpaint.com

February 28th was one of the more memorable nights of boxing in recent years.

Preceding the leading fight of the year candidate between Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz, Rocky Juarez and Chris John fought a heated, closely contested bout that featured wild swings in momentum. After a tense first couple of rounds, John took control before a battered Juarez came roaring back with a late round rally. Both men were commended for their testicular fortitude and tenacity.

But despite fighting to a draw, Chris John will come into the ring as the definitive betting favorite June 27th.

There's some sense to it. For starters, while the draw verdict was more than reasonable, you can just as easily make the case that John won seven or eight rounds if you were to give him the close ones. You can't make such a case the other way around. The middle rounds were dominant ones for the well-schooled Indonesian.

Secondly, it's well known that Chris John was fighting a flu virus in the days leading up to the bout. How close he was to full strength on fight night is unknown, and you have to wonder if he would have faltered down the final stretch if the tail end of his training camp was a healthy one. Without the illness, would John had continued his mid-round success?

Moreover, Juarez' eyes have become increasingly susceptible to swelling and laceration as he enters the 8th year of his professional career. Chris left him with a badly swollen and cut left eye along with a bruised right eye; it's fair to assume that Rocky's going to have to deal with compromised vision at some point again next Saturday. Issues such as double vision is an impediment that Rocky says was fixed through surgery following his loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in 2007. But I suspect damage around the eyes will continue to be an obstacle for the remainder of Juarez' career.

For the same reasons the draw was a sensible verdict (despite the misleading CompuBox numbers) though, Rocky has a great chance at snatching his elusive first world title in the rematch. He's a far more resolute puncher than John. And while John is largely a head-hunter, Juarez works the body well; he landed quite a few left hooks to the liver that made Chris back up and take a deep breath. Problem is, there were too many times when John was allowed to reset himself and take the play away from Juarez with two or three eye catching blows in between or around Juarez's guard. Rocky had his best success when punching in combination, particularly following the left hook to the body with either a right hand or another left hook up top. Concentrating on putting the exclamation mark on a damaging body blow with something hard to the chin may eventually get him the stoppage he needs to ensure victory over his flashier opponent.

Don't be surprised if Chris John took note of Barrera's uneventful rematch against Juarez in September of 2006. Barrera learned his lesson from the violent first encounter by making sure to grab and spin, or simply clinch, every time the shorter man got inside. John did this to great effect in spots four months ago, but to the chagrin of trainer Craig Christian, there were times he labored inside and let Rocky go to work. Expect a more concerted effort in using his advantages in height, reach, and foot speed to keep Rocky on the outside and limit the inside battles as much as possible.

Whatever the case, Juarez knows that his future as a prizefighter will be cloudy if he suffers a loss. This may be his last chance at his day in the sun. We should see Rocky follow up his most determined effort to date with another gutsy performance. Likewise, Chris John should be applauded for returning to the states to stamp his claim on the division. He could have easily taken the safer, and perhaps more profitable, route by defending his title against non-descript opponents in his home country. The man's a true fighter. He'll be coming to Los Angeles to win and win convincingly.

Here's hoping for another spectacular night.

e-mail Michael Nelson


ade said...

chris john will win by tko,his camp had concluded ko is the only way to get usa box fans attension.rj lost on decission to barera,jmm.so john ko would be an added value for cj next fight saleability.