Aside from the legendary lineage and a world title belt, "Irish" Andy Lee was out to show Saturday night that rising middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. had nothing over him.
Reality set in for the southpaw challenger when referee Laurence Cole stepped in to stop Chavez's barrage of body and head shots at 2:21 of the seventh round, bringing an explosive end to the HBO-televised bout from the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Tex., and adding substance to Chavez's resume after dismantling the toughest opponent of his rising career.
For four rounds, Lee used a stiff right jab to set up uppercuts and body shots, while Chavez, content to wait for his opening, answered with hard shots to the head and body that got harder and harder. In the fifth, sixth and decisive round, Chavez continued to land the more damaging shots, while Lee's punching power, though feared in previous fights, never fazed Chavez.
"I wanted to see if he had any power,'' Chavez said. "I saw he didn't have anything. That's when I came on. In the first round, I may have been a little cold, but he ever hurt me."
Chavez (46-0-1, 32 KOs) said the only pain he suffered was the cramps in his legs. "No excuses, but I could have knocked him out earlier if it wasn't for my legs," he said.
Lee (28-2, 20 KOs) came away with respect for Chavez's size, power and chin that he didn't have before the fight.
"I have no excuses. He's a good fighter and my punches had no effect on him,'' Lee said. "I couldn't hold him off. I hit him with punches that would have hurt a lot of people. He just walked through them. He's heavy and it was hard to move him with my shots."
Chavez's performance went a long way toward erasing the notion that he has been spoon-fed his opponents and living off his name. With his Hall of Fame dad standing nearby, he was asked about taking another step out of senior's shadow with an impressive stoppage of a top-ranked opponent.
"I'm very happy to carry the name,'' he said. "I'm pushing myself everyday to make history in boxing."
The next step could be a unification bout against Sergio Martinez, the lineal middleweight champion. It's a challenge Lee predicts Chavez is ready to take on.
"I think that's a tough fight for Sergio,'' Lee said. "It's because of the size difference. (Chavez) is a lot better than people give him credit for. He's a good champion for a reason."