Advertisement
Advertisement
Boxingscene.com

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Finds His Identity

By Jake Donovan

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was a shy, inexperienced 17-year old fighter the last time he played to a live crowd in the city of Houston. His third and fourth wins came in this boxing-rich city, but at a time when he was still learning on the job and widely viewed as a ticket-selling sideshow.

Nearly eight years later, he’s a far cry from that kid, on every level.

There’s still a sense of humility to the second generation boxer, yet at the same time also carrying a sense of swagger about him. Perhaps it came from winning a major belt in his hard-fought points victory over Sebastian Zbik earlier this year. The old adage goes that with a world championship comes a 25% improvement among that fighter.

The biggest difference these days, though, is that the 25-year young veteran is finally comfortable in his own skin.

The comparisons to his legendary father – arguably the greatest Mexican fighter ever – are unavoidable, as it’s all he’s heard from the moment he turned pro eight years ago. It’s an unfair comparison for any fighter to be expected to live up to such lofty standards, never mind one who bears his name.

Chavez Jr has finally come to grips with that reality, realizing with the proper amount of work and dedication, he can carve out his own legacy.

“Once you become a world champion, you accept the responsibility of training hard and getting better,” Chavez acknowledges, ahead of his November 19 showdown with Peter Manfredo Jr. in the first defense of his middleweight belt.

The bout will air live on HBO from Reliant Park in Houston, and Tuesday’s press conference in the West Club VIP Lounge at nearby Reliant Arena – home of the NFL’s Houston Texans – showcased a new and improved Chavez Jr.

Long gone is the shy kid hidden from the media and with no in-ring expectations other than to bowl offer spoon-fed opposition. Dressed in matching jean jacket and pants attire, Chavez Jr. confidently held court while proudly displaying his already impressive physique, more than three weeks away from fight night.

Granted, fighters should be expected to stay ready rather than wasting time having to get ready. But for a fighter with a history of struggling at the scales and pulling a no-show at the gym, no longer can the claims be made that he lacks motivation.

Becoming a champion can do that to a fighter. So too can the desire to remain a champ.

“I want to be a world champion for a long time,” Chavez Jr boasts, stating the obvious but also with a startling revelation. “I’ve been training three months for this fight. I’ve never trained this hard for a fight. I want to give the people of Houston a great fight. They deserve it.”

Chavez Jr views it as his tribute to the first American city to host a professional fight of his, but additionally – and perhaps more importantly – to show proper respect to those who’ve invested a considerable amount of time and effort in bringing his career to a level of respectability.


The run with multi-winning Trainer of the Year Freddie Roach has been the proverbial roller coaster ride. A normal course of action was for Chavez to stroll into Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Hollywood out of shape and training for the sake of making weight.

That’s on the occasions where he has bothered to show up, as there have been far too many instances where no camp at all took place, leading to a fight cancellation and the collective sigh of disappointment from those refusing to believe his career ever amounts to anything.

That was the old – well, really the young Chavez Jr. It was the same kid who showed up to fight disinterested and a mystery as to what he would weigh, including his ballooning up to middleweight at a time his handlers sincerely thought he’d settling into the junior middleweight division.

It took for his bottoming out against Troy Rowland - winning their Nov. ’09 fight but testing positive for a banned substance and subsequently serving a six-month suspension – to convince him that the time was long overdue to either crap or get off the pot.

Enter he more mature version has found himself in the ring, as well as a weight class that feels like home and a trainer who brings out the very best in him.

“I feel comfortable at 160. I’ve already been there a couple of weeks,” Chavez insists, his jacket open enough to reveal a trim waistline. “I spent 10 weeks in Mexico getting ready. I know how tough Freddie and Alex (Ariza, Chavez Jr’s conditioning coach) are, so I knew to come into camp in shape and am in the best shape of my career.”
 
By his own admission, even Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum was unsure where exactly the ever growing fighter would finally land.

“When he came to us, we thought he’d be a great junior welterweight,” Arum recalls of the stretch where Chavez Jr was easily making 140 lb while serving as pay-per-view undercard filler. “But every time we saw him, he’d grow bigger and bigger.”

The good news is that he can stop speculating. Even at just 25 years young, it appears that the growth spurt is finally over and the maturity stage has kicked. Arum was convinced of this the night he became a titlist.

“Now he’s a full middleweight, and has to put in a lot of work and effort to fight at this weight and level. We took our time, increasing the level of competition as he went along. When he fought Zbik at the Staples Center, we felt he was ready. Julio showed that he learned how to be a fighter, and he won a decisive victory to become the middleweight champion.”

The win alone isn’t enough to make people forget about his legendary father, but that was never the goal. It was enough to convince people that he can fight at least a little bit, and be competitive – and successful – as he moves through the ranks.

Still, anything that can be done to detract from comparisons to Julio Sr. can only work in his favor.

“It was hard enough to convince everyone that he was for real, without him fighting in the same style as his father,” Arum notes. “He was crouching over and going to the body. We told him, ‘You’re a big kid. Fight like (Alexis) Arguello, not like your father.”

Chavez Jr is still a far cry from resembling the late great Flako Explosivo, but again – the goal is to not put himself alongside legendary Hall of Fame fighters, but simply to prove he has the talent and heart to make some noise on his own accord.

The title win over Zbik provided that much, applying pressure late in the fight to eke out a well-deserved decision in his first fight back in Los Angeles since touring with his father six years prior. Now he returns to another familiar city, though anxious to prove that he’s well above and beyond the image the fans in Houston have when he first appeared in town all those years ago.

“I have great memories of this town. It’s an honor to come back as a world champion and defend my title here. It was where I fought my second and third pro fight when I was 17- years old. I’m very happy to come back where it all began.”

Even more so that it’s on his own accord and no longer as an awkward sideshow act.

Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected] .

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by modro11 on 11-12-2011

Chavez Jr. has sure found his identity of being a bum world title holder. He's a huge disgrace to Mexico and Mexican boxing. He should crawl in a hole and keep eating burritos for the rest of his life, because…

Comment by respinos on 11-01-2011

He ran away from Cotto, Angulo, Cintron, Martinez, Marquez, Alvarez, etc., etc., etc. What a champion...he's a bum and a shame to all mexicans.

Comment by Sheppirino on 10-26-2011

So Chavez Jr. found his identity? Great. All he has to do now is find his balls and fight Martinez.

Comment by TaurusJ27 on 10-26-2011

I'd rather watch one of his father's fights than his.

Comment by Ring Leader on 10-26-2011

I remember 2 years ago he was saying he wants "tougher competition" lol

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (13)
Top Headlines Chavez Jr. Admits: If I Don't Beat Britsch - Then It's Time To Go! Photos: Billy Joe Saunders Looks Poor in Lackluster Akavov Win Billy Joe Saunders: I'll Do My Two Mandatories, Then a Big Fight Frank Warren Sees Bradley Skeete Going For World Title in 2017 Tony Bellew Hints That David Haye is Broke: His Life is in Turmoil! Julian Williams: I'm More Focused, I Definitely Went The Extra Mile Marcos Villasana Jr. Knocks Out Jorge Luis Rodriguez In Eight McGregor: F*** Mayweather's Manager, I Hold All The Numbers! Johnny Navarrete Shocks Jorge Paez Jr. - Retirement Looms? Ed Brown is Fighting For His Life After Being Shot in The Head Saunders: I Called Out GGG, Now I'm Embarrassed By Performance Michael Conlan: McGregor Will Carry Irish Flag at My Pro Debut Photos: Andy Ruiz Hits New Zealand For Joseph Parker Showdown Billy Joe Saunders vs. Artur Akavov - CompuBox Punch Stats Freddie Roach Impressed: Murat Gassiev Was a Beast in There Murat Gassiev vs. Denis Lebedev - CompuBox Punch Stats Billy Joe Saunders Struggles in Decision Win Over Artur Akavov Lolenga Mock, Sherman Williams Win in Aarhus, Denmark Jack Catterall Outpoints Diego Luque, Retains Fringe WBO Regional Lebedev Wants a Rematch: I Thought I Won or it Was a Draw Paul Butler Beats Alexander Cazares, Targets Jamie McDonnell Kubrat Pulev Batters, Stops Samuel Peter in Four Rounds Murat Gassiev Drops, Decisions Lebedev With Split Nod For IBF Belt Denis Lebedev vs. Murat Gassiev - LIVE BoxingScene Scorecard Julius Indongo Destroys Eduard Troyanovsky in One - HUGE Upset Denis Shafikov vs. Richard Commey - CompuBox Punch Stats Maxim Vlasov Blasts Rakhim Chakhkiev in Wild Shootout Marcos Villasana Jr. Looks To Continue His Run in Acapulco Frank Warren: Eubank Jr is All Talk, Won't Sign To Face Saunders Denis Lebedev vs. Murat Gassiev - LIVE Results From Moscow Jessie Magdaleno: Manny Robles Should Be Trainer of The Year Jose Ramirez Ready To Travel, Challenge Ricky Burns in Scotland Juan Manuel Marquez Will Enter Camp in January, No Retirement Abel Sanchez To Saunders: Stop Talking, Call To Fight Golovkin Pazienza Understands Blackwell's Desire To Put Himself at Risk Frank Warren on Flanagan's Options, Saunders' Return, More Cecilia Braekhus vs. Klara Svensson Looms For January 28 Bellew: McGegor Just Wants UFC Shares, Mayweather Drills Him Video: Thomas Dulorme on Sparring Mayweather, Joining TMT McGregor: If Mayweather Runs, I Have Other Boxing Targets!
Advertisement

Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement