By Michael Marley
Human nature being what it is, there's been one question about Son of the Legend, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, which has been gnawing at my alleged brain for several weeks.
With the undefeated Junior stepping it up Saturday night on HBO, as he challenges unbeaten WBC middleweight champion Sebastian Zbik at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, my curiosity has only intensified.
He is, indeed, the Son of the Legend, this Freddie Roach trained fighter, but he no child of poverty, no pobrecito that fits the boxing stereotype like, for example, the nearly mythical Manny Pacquiao selling cigarettes and sleeping on the streets story.
To the contrary, his father's accumulated wealth provided a rich kid's soft upbringing for all of the great champion from Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico. It was reported, at one time, that Papa JC not only provided magnificently for his own clan but for 17 or 18 others in the drug and violence racked city.
So, on a national media conference call Tuesday, I asked (through trusty interpreter Ricardo Jimenez) what makes Junior tick, what makes him subject to the demanding physical regimens mandated by Pacman coaches Roach and Alex Ariza?
Keep in mind, Junior could just as well be a jet set playboy or a family factotum rather than a prizefighter.
“I am just as hungry as any other guy,” the 25 year old Chavez said. “I want to win a world title, I want to make my own (ring) history.”
So here he is, 42-0-1 with 30 KOs, and now the training wheels come flying off for surel.
While growing up, the chip off the Culiacan block said, he saw how boxing brought fame, acclaim and good fortune to the old man and the extended family.
“I saw in this time how boxing was good to my father. So wanted to do this also, I wanted the same. I am very hungry.”
Although Zbik seems to be a tapper rather than a banger, with a mere 10 Kos, the careful spoonfeeding of Chavez comes to end Saturday night.
“I feel that he is dangerous,” Chavez said. “He's a world champion. He's undefeated. And he is coming to fight. He wants to be more well known and this will give him his opportunity.”
Pere Chavez has expressed some nervousness about his son perhaps losing but Junior will hear none of that.
“I'm a little scared...but I have done everything required. I am coming to win, to win the (world) championship,” Junior said. “My sparring and my conditioning...they have gone to a different level.
Chavez explained that for this, his third bout under Roach, they have an extended and intense time together.
When he fought Irish John Duddy and Billy Lyell, Junior said, he had Roach overseeing his work only for 30 days and then 20 days.
Now, Junior said, he and the world's most famous trainer are really in sync.
Far from being a professional burden, Junior said, he thinks his family name gives him a boost.
“My name will always be Julio Chavez Jr. and I am very proud to carry that name.”
Roach agreed that Chavez has improved markedly as borne out by sparring sessions at the fabled Wild Card Gym in a scruffy section of Hollywood.
They're calling it “The Son Also Rises” and Young Chavez seems to be poised and confident that he will get the job done in a manner that will make Big Daddy proud.
If he does, look for a grand fiesta on the streets and in the saloons of Old Culiacan.