JULIO CESAR CHAVEZ JR.: 171 ½ Pounds
ANDRZEJ FONFARA: 171 ½ Pounds
AMIR IMAM: 140 Pounds
WALTER CASTILLO: 138 Pounds
Former world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. held a media workout on Friday in front of a packed house at Ten Goose Boxing Gym in Van Nuys, Calif., as the Mexican superstar prepares to make his SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® debut on Saturday, April 18, at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
Popular Mexican superstar and former middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and dangerous brawler Andrzej Fonfara participated in the final the final press conference Thursday at Crowne Plaza Hotel LAX, just two days before Saturday’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING doubleheader.
Chavez (48-1-1, 32 KOs) of Culiacan, Mexico, and Fonfara (26-3, 15 KOs) of Chicago by way of Radon, Poland, will meet in the 12-round light heavyweight main event live on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT) from StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Chavez will make his eagerly awaited return to the ring and first start for new trainer Joe Goossen.
Also participating in today’s press conference was undefeated top 10-ranked super lightweight Amir Imam (16-0, 14 KOs), of Davie, Fla., by way of Albany, N.Y. who will put his unblemished record on the line against fellow power-puncher Walter Castillo (25-2, 18 KOs) (25-2, 18 KOs), of Managua, Nicaragua, in the 10-round co-feature on SHOWTIME.
On SHOWTIME EXTREME® (8 p.m. ET/PT) this Saturday, WBA Interim Super Bantamweight World Champion Oscar Escandon (24-1, 16 KOs), of Tolima, Colombia, will make the first defense of his 122-pound title when he faces undefeated Moises “El Chucky” Flores (22-0, 1 NC, 16 KOs), of Guadalajara, Mexico.
In the SHOWTIME EXTREME co-feature, Omar “El Businessman” Chavez (32-3-1, 22 KOs), of Culiacan, the younger brother of Chavez, Jr. and son of legendary Julio Cesar Sr., will face Richard Gutierrez (28-15-1, 17 KOs), of Arjona, Colombia, in an eight-round middleweight fight. Also featured on the telecast, time permitting, will be a six-round match between unbeaten Argentine welterweight Fabian “TNT” Maidana, of Santa Fe, Argentina, the brother of former world champion Marcos Maidana, who’ll be opposed by Cory Vom Baur (2-2, 0 KOs), of Vancouver, Wash.
Tickets for the event co-promoted by Goossen Promotions and Chavez Promotions are priced at $200, $150, $100, $50 and $25, plus applicable taxes, fees and service charges, and are on sale online at AXS.com.
What the fighters, trainers and executives said Thursday:
JULIO CESAR CHAVEZ JR., Former World Champion
“I had a great training camp. I feel better than ever. I am ready for the fight.
“I know that this is a new weight class for me. I realize that Fonfara is very tough and bigger than me, but I am up for the challenge.
“I have worked on my boxing during my one year off, and I am very excited and motivated to get back in the ring.
“I have worked so hard for this fight because I am fighting in a new weight class. I must punch harder, so I have focused on getting stronger during this training camp.
“I have a great chin, I know how to take punches and my conditioning is great. A lot of fighters can take a punch, but I can take multiple punches and not be hurt.
“I think that Andrzej Fonfara is one of the best fighters in the light heavyweight division. Inside of boxing, everyone knows who Fonfara is. He knocked down one of the best boxers in the world in Adonis Stevenson.
“Fonfara is disciplined in the ring, but he doesn’t vary his punches.
“I understand that my dad didn’t want me to take this fight. I had bigger names I could’ve fought, but I think that Fonfara is a great challenge for me and I like the challenge.
“I would like to thank SHOWTIME for making this fight happen.”
ANDRZEJ FONFARA, World Title Challenger
“I’m prepared very well and I’m ready for this fight. It’s been a great camp like always. I train hard for each fight. I’m a tough boxer who is feeling great. The weight is good and everything is perfect.
“I must put everything into Saturday night and I will win the fight.
“I must look even better than I did against Stevenson. Everyone said I looked good, but I lost the fight. I didn’t want congratulations because I did not win the fight. But this time I will win the fight. I’m ready for a decision or for a knockout.
“I’m ready with a couple of plans. I don’t want to run around the ring, I want to fight tough. I’m going to use my jab and my right hand, which is my best punch.
“I’m not worried about what his father said about not fighting me. Chavez Jr. wants to fight and I will show him that his father was right.
“It doesn’t matter how I win, I want to win this fight and get my rematch with Adonis Stevenson.
“Chavez Jr. is a great fighter. He uses a lot of combinations and has a powerful punch that I must be ready for. I want to show the whole world how good I am when I win this fight on Saturday.
“If I get the chance, I’m going to knock him out. It’s boxing so you never know what will happen. I want to box round-by-round and win this fight.
“I lost the fight with Stevenson but I showed that I was a good boxer. I’m a much smarter fighter now because of that experience. That was a fight at the top championship level.
“It doesn’t matter what Chavez Jr. says at a press conference, we’ll be in the ring Saturday and everything will happen there.
“Fan’s can expect heavy punches, knockdowns and a great fight.”
AMIR IMAM, Undefeated Super Lightweight Contender
“I’m confident going into this fight because of how I train. I have put my heart and soul into this sport since I moved to Florida three years ago. I left everything behind to better myself.
“I’m going to stay smart and composed in there and do everything I can to get the win.
“I don’t feel like I need the knockout to come away with a successful fight. But, you better believe that if there is an opportunity to knock him out, then I will take advantage of it.
“In 2015, I want to become a world champion. This is my breakout year. A lot of people have been buzzing about me. I want to become the WBC world champion, that’s what I’m heading for.
“I know he’s [Castillo] a good opponent, he’s got a great resume, and he’s coming to fight. He has a great record, so that alone shows what he’s capable of. Come Saturday night may the better man win.
“I’ve boxed styles like [his] plenty of times, but you never know, he could come out different Saturday night.
“I’m ready to put on a great show for the SHOWTIME audience.”
WALTER CASTILLO, Super Lightweight Contender
“I’m coming here to fight. I can tell you one thing, Amir Imam made a big mistake by taking this fight.
“I’ve fought a lot of tough fighters; my two losses were by decisions where I feel I was robbed. I’ve fought better fighters than Amir has.
“Come Saturday, I’m going to announce to the whole world that Walter Castillo is here to stay and he’s going to be a world champion.”
JULIO CESAR CHAVEZ SR.
“Being in Los Angeles is like being in Mexico for me; I have had many great memories. I became the world champion for this first time here and my son also became the world champion for the first time here, too.
“Julio definitely has a very difficult fight ahead of him.
“If I was Julio’s manager, I wouldn’t have taken this fight. Fonfara is a difficult and tough fighter.
“My son wants to fight fighters of quality and wants credibility in boxing.
“Julio has worked and trained very hard for this fight .He has the capability to win and we expect that it will go very well.”
JOE GOOSSEN, Chavez’ Trainer
“Julio has a window here the next five, six, seven years that he can capitalize on.
“I think he’s left the childish stuff behind, and we’re all guilty of being childish.
“I think that Julio has surprised his father with his determination heading into this fight.
He’s got a left hook to the liver that just sends a shock through your body.
“He’s not soft. He’s a real fighter. I have been around enough fighters to know that he’s a real fighter. Number one, he has the never-say- die attitude in there.
“We’re up against a very well-schooled, blue collar, workmanlike fighter in Fonfara.
“He is an athletic, improvisational fighter, in that you don’t know where everything’s coming from.
“I’ve watched a lot of Fonfara tape, and he pretty much repeats what he does, but he repeats it well.
“This is going to be a battle. You’ve got two contrasting styles and personalities.
“Julio has 51 fights under his belt. He’s no rookie and he comes from a great bloodline. (In the short time I’ve been with him, it has been) more of an association than a dictatorial effort between the two of us.
“Based on former camps, he’s never really extracted himself from comfortable surroundings and put himself in a position where he is completely isolated like he was in Lake Tahoe.”
SAM COLONNA, Fonfara’s Trainer
“Fonfara could turn it up whenever. He could be down on the scorecards and one punch he throws could change someone’s world. He’s proven in the past that he has power in both hands.
“The styles in this fight are perfect for each other. When people ask about the fight I say it could go either way, it depends on who catches the other first.
“I’m looking for Fonfara to dominate, but Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is a warrior, he comes to fight, he knows how to go to the body like his father used to, so we’ve been working on all of these strategies.
“A knockout win would be a dream come true to me. That’s what I’ve been looking for all these years. Winning this huge fight would change everything for Fonfara and myself.
“This camp that Andrzej had was the best we’ve ever had. He worked hard, he had time to train and there’s no excuses.
“We’re coming to fight a war. Don’t forget that wars are won by strategy.
“People say to listen to your father. His father told him not to take this fight, but he took it anyway and that was a mistake.
“I see this fight not going past 10 rounds, with us getting the knockout.”
STACY MCKINLEY, Imam’s Trainer
“Amir has always trained very hard, but I did see a change in him in this training camp after the last fight. He has stepped up his training by two levels.
“He learned a lot about his fight against [Fidel Maldonado] under the bright SHOWTIME lights at the MGM Grand.
“Amir is always confident going into each fight, but he made a mistake in the Maldonado fight. He rolled his right hand and forgot about the left hand and was knocked down. He had to pay for his mistakes but it’s all a learning experience, he still has only 16 professional fights under his belt.
“Castillo has a great jab and good combinations. A guy like that throws a lot of punches, but there is a technique to breaking down a fighter like that.
“We can’t spend a lot of time on the ropes, and we must go after his body because his body is weak. Castillo is going to get knocked out on Saturday.
“I think that Amir is going to open up a lot of eyes on Saturday.”
In the main event of the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING doubleheader, Mexican superstar Chavez, Jr. (48-1-1, 32 KOs) meets dangerous brawler Andrzej Fonfara (26-3, 15 KOs) in a 12-round light heavyweight bout.
In the 10-round co-feature, top 10 ranked junior welterweight contender Amir Imam (16-0, 14 KOs) will aim to move one step closer to a world title opportunity when he makes his second start of 2015 against fellow power-puncher Walter Castillo (25-2, 18 KOs).
Julio Cesar Chavez, arguably the greatest Mexican fighter of all time, made an appearance during his son’s workout to show his support and offer words of encouragement.
Here’s what Chavez Jr., Julio Cesar Chavez and Joe Goossen (trainer) had to say Friday at the Los Angeles-area gym:
JULIO CESAR CHAVEZ JR., Former World Champion
“I am very focused going into this fight. I have changed a lot mentally this past year.
“I am fighting [Andrzej] Fonfara now because I like big opponents. I like the challenge of fighting good, hungry fighters. Just because Fonfara doesn’t have the name recognition of other fighters, it doesn’t make him an easy fighter. He’s tough.
“I feel comfortable at light heavyweight. Any time that you can add a couple pounds, you feel better. Although I will be fighting at 175, I feel most comfortable at 168 as a boxer. Since I have had one year off, it was a better choice to fight at this weight so that I could see how my body feels.
“Since I have added a few pounds, I have become a more physical and stronger boxer. The light heavyweight division has very big and physical contenders.
“Joe [Goossen] is a great trainer. He is a great motivator to his fighters and makes them better. I have worked very hard with him for the 35 days we spent together in Lake Tahoe.
“When I was training with Freddie Roach, it was very different. I think Freddie is a great trainer, but Joe also has a lot of experience and we have made a connection together.
“I really liked training in Lake Tahoe. The altitude, the ring, everything I needed was there. I felt very comfortable up there and I would like to come back there to train for a fight again.
“I promise a great fight, this is a very exciting fight. Fonfara isn’t an easy opponent, but he has never seen an opponent like me.”
JULIO CESAR CHAVEZ SR.
“I am here to support and be with my son. I try to give him good advice. I tell him to train and prepare hard, and fortunately he is doing that well.
“I think Joe [Goossen] is doing a great job, we are on the same page. We are all focused on him [Chavez Jr.] getting to the fight well prepared. This fight requires great preparation because he is going into the fight at a weight that’s higher than his normal weight and he is facing a very tough opponent.
“He must go in 100 percent to win this fight.
“I think there has been a 180 degree turn in his career. I see this as a positive because he can really develop his ability and looks very well prepared.
“I would’ve liked to have seen him take a tune up fight instead because of his long layoff; I particularly didn’t want this fight.
“Julio [Chavez Jr.] wants credibility in this sport and that’s why he made the decision to take this fight, even though it’s a dangerous decision. He must be very prepared for this fight.”
JOE GOOSSEN, Chavez Jr.s’ Trainer
“I’ve been asked over the years who the one fighter was that I would like to work and my answer was always Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
“I’ve always really admired his style. I had known him as a kid, his father is a legend. It had always seemed like a dream job for me, and out of nowhere I got it.
“Lake Tahoe was tremendous for training camp. You are isolated and it’s not an easy thing. When you aren’t training you are sitting in a hotel room. You are deprived the comforts of home, but it really gives you that concentration and dedication factor and I think that will interpret into some positive results.
“I matured over my years, once I had a kid and a family and I think the same has happened with Julio. Life becomes clearer when you put away the immaturity. You realize that you have a future and if you really want to access what’s available to you, then you are going to have to work hard and dedicate yourself to it.
“Going to Lake Tahoe and really working hard is a sign of maturity and I think that’s what Julio is going through right now. He really showed it by leaving his home and spending an extended period of time up there. To me that is a great indicator that he is mature, dedicated and taking this fight very seriously.
“Of course I believe Julio is ready to fight Fonfara. The fight was made before I even came on board, but that’s the challenge that I am presented with. You must figure out a good game plan and figure out what you’re up against.
“Just because Julio has been out a year doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a cake walk for Fonfara. We went up to Lake Tahoe with one thing in mind, and that’s winning this fight and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
# # #
“Chavez Jr. vs. Fonfara”, a 12-round light heavyweight bout co-promoted by Goossen Promotions and Chavez Promotions that takes place at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. and will air on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT). In the co-main event, Amir Imam faces Walter Castillo in a 10-round jr. welterweight showdown. The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast will also be available in Spanish via secondary audio programming (SAP).
Tickets for the event are priced at $200, $150, $100, $50 and $25, plus applicable taxes, fees and service charges, are available for purchase online at AXS.com.
For more information visit www.sports.sho.com, follow on Twitter at @SHOSports, @jcchavezjr1, @andrzej_fonfara, @StubHubCenter and @Swanson_Comm, follow the conversation using #ChavezFonfara, become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SHOBoxing or visit the SHOWTIME Boxing Blog at http://theboxingblog.sho.com.