Julio Cesar Chavez is still one or two fights away from his showdown with Sergio Martinez. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
HOUSTON -- Three quick thoughts from Julio Cesar Chavez's fifth round knockout win over Peter Manfredo Saturday night.
Chavez looked good. Chavez takes a lot of heat for a soft résumé and an inflated profile thanks to his famous father. But Chavez was impressive Saturday night. After a slow first round, Chavez turned it on, tagging Manfredo with clean, thudding combinations. In the fifth round Chavez rocked Manfredo with a straight right hand. When Manfredo stumbled back into the ropes, Chavez closed brilliantly, swarming Manfredo with a flurry of punches until the referee stepped in. Manfredo wasn't happy with the stoppage but he had a chance to take a knee, recover and fight on. It was a tactical mistake by Manfredo and you can't blame Chavez for taking advantage of it.
What's next for Chavez? Everyone wants to see Chavez against Sergio Martinez. That's not happening. Bob Arum told me he would like to see Chavez fight one or two more times before considering a Martinez fight. I don't blame him. Martinez's promoter, Lou DiBella, doesn't blame him either. Chavez is still an unfinished product. DiBella would like to make Chavez-Andy Lee early next year. That's a decent fight. The big money fight is Chavez-Saul Alvarez, an all-Mexican showdown that would do big business south of the border. Canelo's promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, says he would make the fight at a catchweight of 156 pounds. Arum says he will do 158. If the two can get together, that fight would be a war.
Manfredo retires. After the fight, Manfredo, 30, announced his retirement. Manfredo has nothing to hang his head about. He carved out a solid career for himself. Best known as the runner-up on the first season of The Contender, Manfredo (37-7) fought for world titles against Chavez and Joe Calzaghe and made a name for himself in a business that chews journeymen fighters up and spits them out. He could have stuck around, fought in small shows and made a few bucks. But he walks away with a $100,000 payday and his faculties intact.
"He had two shots at a world title, he stood their toe to toe with everyone and he had a great career," said Manfredo's promoter, Lou DiBella. "He represented himself and Providence very well. His nose may look messed up but his brain isn't. He has beautiful kids and a beautiful wife and he can have a great life."
-- Chris Mannix