The Crucifixion (and rebirth?) of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr

By P.H. Burbridge: In Mexico ring legend, Julio Cesar Chavez holds a very special place in the hearts of fight fans. He is celebrated and is the standard for which all young Mexican fighters are judged. Up and coming fighterís are always in danger of being dismissed if they do not exhibit the bravery or intensity of a prime Chavez. Thatís just the way it is. For Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. his Fatherís legacy will always be a burden..

Living under a microscope became unbearable on the night of July 12th 2008 when he fought Matt Vanda. His win brought his overall record to 37-0-1 with 29 knockouts but itís a night that Jr. would rather forget. Because thatís the night the world found out that their expectations for him to display that same bravery and intensity Julio Sr. is so famous for was beginning to get to him. In fact, he was so frustrated after his life and death struggle with Matt Vanda that he hinted at retiring at the age of 22! At 22??

This fight tells us everything we need to know about whatís going wrong with Jr. but more importantly it also tells us about whatís going right. Giving him the benefit of the doubt and accepting reports that he was sick leading up to the fight his actual performance wasnít all that bad. The judge who scored it 100-90 for Chavez is certainly impossible to defend because it was much closer then that. But, all in all Jr. did show some real toughness against a pretty game guy who had previously fought at middleweight and he showed it amidst an extremely hostile and disappointed crowd of Mexican fans. Their negative reaction clearly upset Julio Sr. and undoubtedly left him feeling a little betrayed. An exhausted Jr. never stopped trying to win and that clearly made Julio Sr. very proud on his 46th birthday. That determination is something Jr. and Sr. both have in common. But thatís where all the comparisons should end. The roots of Jrís problems are obvious. He lacks amateur pedigree. Developing confidence in the amateur ranks and mastering the fundamentals is a powerful resource to draw upon when youíre a professional. The fact that one of the greatest fighters of all time, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. had under 20 amateur fights and still went on to become a legend is certainly not the norm itís the exception. Itís obvious that little emphasis was placed on Jr. developing his skills as an amateur because Sr. so successfully navigated through his hall of fame career with minimal amateur experience. Itís too late to do anything about that now but itís not too late to address the BIG problem and stylistic quandary Jr. currently finds himself in. Julio Jr. wants to fight like Sr. and itís clear the fans want him to do that as well but, if he continues to try and fight like the old man it will eventually derail his career. Maybe sooner then later.

Julio Sr. excelled as a pressure fighter and specialized in cutting off the ring. He punished opponents with body shots and his left hook to the liver convinced many a foe to abandon any thought of taking his title. In his prime, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. was a machine. He didnít just walk guys down he permanently broke their wills. Fighters were never the same after the experience. Itís a tough act to follow. Julio Jr. on the other hand appears to be a natural boxer-puncher with excellent offensive tools. His left hook is a natural and along with a solid jab and decent right hand he has most of the required elements to become an excellent fighter. When he boxes from a distance you can see that he has talent. The problem is that he doesnít do it consistently and as a consequence heís ALWAYS making fights harder then they need to be. Heís a tall fighter but for some reason he chooses not to fight like one. From a tactical standpoint everything is wrong. To add to this deficit he also has a stamina issue. Team Chavez clearly needs a top flight conditioning coach. Thereís no question about that. As a boxer-puncher heíll need to go deep into fights and break his man by attrition. Itís just been fortunate that he hasnít found himself behind on points in a fight and forced to call upon his conditioning to mount a rally ala Chavez vs Taylor I. Another significant concern is his defensive short coming. In trying to mimic his famous Dad he getís hit far too much. Allowing his opponents to come to him and counter punching rather then playing the hunter all the time will likely make a big difference in decreasing the number of shots he takes. Julio Jr. is clearly applying the wrong style for his body type and ignoring his own ďnaturalĒ talents.

Currently, heís paying a heavy price for trying to fight like Sr. and it will eventually break the bank!

Team Chavez needs an overhaul. The old team has gotten him this far but frankly the future looks bleak if Jrís brain trust (Julio Sr. and Bob Arum) donít react accordingly and make the proper changes. It may raise some eyebrows to change trainers when youíre 37-0-1 with 29 knockouts but itís a move thatís imperative if Jr. is to achieve the world class status his Father once enjoyed. Julio Jr. can blaze his own path and cast his own shadow but it wonít be as a pressure fighter. Thereís real talent and tremendous potential inside of him but itís crucial that he and his people make the right decision NOW and not after he suffers his first defeat. If he looses now then 50% of his marketability goes right out the window. It will then be near impossible to gain the credibility and respect of boxing fans. Especially in Mexico. So, who can help Jr. rise to the level of the elite and gain the high profile match upís and big dollar paydays his famous name should guarantee?


Why Floyd Sr.? Because he has the uncanny ability to communicate with fighters and to instill confidence in what theyíre being told is ABSOLUTELY true and correct. Floyd Sr. is a defensive genius and a keen strategist who played the KEY role in transforming Oscar De La Hoya into a complete fighter. Not to mention setting the ground work for Floyd Jrís wizardry. Oscar was stuck in between styles just like Julio Jr. prior to his association with Floyd Mayweather Sr. Sometimes he would brawl other times he would box but he never made adjustments in the ring until Mayweather arrived. Mayweather gave him more options and his tactical advice is priceless. For De La Hoya the first evidence of Floydís imprint came in the Fernando Vargas fight. Oscar did everything right on Mayweatherís queue while making numerous adjustments in that fight to stunning effect. Itís still one of De La Hoyaís greatest victories. There are many great trainers out there but I think Floyd Sr is the most viable candidate to take Chavez Jr. to that next level.

Why would or should Floyd Mayweather Sr. consider training Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.?

Because out of all the young prospects fighting today Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. not only has HUGE potential as a fighter but could well be a monumental box office star in the Latino market and possibly beyond. With some decisive wins over credible world ranked fighters Chavez Jr. would leap frog miles ahead of Antonio Margarito in terms of marketability. History certainly proves that Latino fight fans support their fighters. They show their support by putting their money where their mouths are and Bob Arum absolutely knows that to be true.

Also, Mayweather must deal with certain realities. De La Hoyaís plans are well documented and the latest news regarding the possible training of Ricky Hatton would translate into a short term deal only. Ricky has publicly stated his ď2-3 fights and call it a careerĒ plan. Floyd Sr. has become accustomed to high profile fights and big events due to his association with Oscar De La Hoya and working with a lesser talent on a smaller stage might not be that satisfying. With Chavez Jr. he would be in on the ground floor of a potential superstar. Bottom line he needs Chavez just as much as Chavez needs him.

Aside from the obvious ego clashes that are sure to arise between Floyd Sr. and Julio Sr. this arrangement could be a ďwin-winĒ for all parties involved.

Of course there are a lot of details to be worked out but Iím just a writer. I canít proof read contracts too.

Attention, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. & Sr., Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Bob Arum Iíve given you the business plan and now itís up to all of you to make it a reality!

Weíre talking about MILLIONS of dollars here and a place in boxing history. If Julio Jr. can excite the loyal Latino fight fans and give them something they can believe in then he and his associates will be rewarded handsomely.

Because the simple TRUTH isÖÖ

They want another Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. but theyíll gladly settle for the NEXT BEST THING!

Article posted on 01.08.2008

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