“It’s frustrating coming off the loss, thinking about it so much,” he said, “but y’ know what? It helps. I needed the rest and that’s what I’ve been doing, just resting, keeping my mind relaxed and getting ready to fight again.”
There are always lingering questions about his commitment and focus to the sport. The bottom line is being the son of the legendary “J.C. Superstar,” he’s been allowed to skip certain steps up the boxing ladder. He gets away with things because…well, he can.
And with this, he’s gained perhaps a well-earned reputation for not having the strongest work ethic. When asked about that, Junior responded, “I worked at the Azteca Gym here in L.A., the people who go to see me; they see I train hard. The misconception out there, a lot of people have never been in my camp and have never been there. They don’t know how I work.”
But what will forever be imbedded in the minds of observers was his rather...uh, shall we say, casual approach to training last summer against Martinez, when he eschewed going to the boxing gym for the confines of his rented mansion.
It was a scene that alarmed those who have a vested interest in his career.
His promoter, Bob Arum said bluntly, “I thought that his performance in the Martinez fight, in preparation for that fight, was just awful. Was just something that I hadn’t experienced ever in my career. I mean, ever. And I saw the train wreck ready to happen. Y’ know, not going to the gym, training in a living room, nonsense like that. Nobody could tell him anything.”
And even suffering his first loss may not have been enough to get the message across.
“Unfortunately, the way the fight ended, it almost wasn’t like a loss,” said Arum, referring to how Chavez nearly scored a miraculous 12th round stoppage of Martinez after being dominated for 11 innings. “Because people said, ‘Hey, another few seconds...,’ but yeah, I was surprised it was this long a delay before he got his act back [together] and get in the ring because we had a party after the fight and I talked to him and it seemed like he would take a few months off and come back and then this whole marijuana thing came. It just went downhill.”
To this Chavez says, “I learned a lot from that last camp. I know I need to be better. I know what I need to do now. This is a very important part of my career. I think I start all over now.”
As for Vera, who’s been ready to go since the beginning of summer, it’s five strikes and you’re outta there. “There’s no ifs, ands or buts because this is crazy. So this is definitely the last opportunity and it’s looking a lot better now that this is all happening.”
It’s been quite the ordeal for Vera, a blue-collar fighter who’s really had no other choice but to put his career on hold for Chavez because of how much this fight means financially for him. Through it all, he’s been a pro.
“It’s been good and bad because the only good thing is I’ve stayed in camp. I’ve stayed focused and got out of my comfort zone in Austin [Texas], my home,” said Vera, who’s been staying in Houston. “I’ve got to be there with [trainer] Ronnie Shields and other good fighters like [Erislandy] Lara and we feed off each other. That’s the only good thing. I feel like I’m developing good habits instead of developing bad habits with Ronnie and all these guys.
“But man, it’s been frustrating as hell because you want to fight; you’re in camp and we had a pretty busy year and staying busy and now, it’s like staggered.”
The worst case scenario is that Chavez has another “issue” that prevents this fight from taking place on September the 28th. Then what?
“Well, I’m looking forward to September 28th happening,” said Artie Pelullo of Banner Promotions, which handles Vera’s career, “and should it not happen, I’d have to evaluate what’s going on at the time, the reason why it didn’t happen, whether someone couldn’t make weight, somebody was cut. But it could be very, very difficult to go forward with another date.”
But the mere fact Chavez has now obtained his visa and there was a formal press conference for this fight (whereas the other dates never had one) is promising to Pelullo. “Yes, he’s in town; he’s training and I understand he’s losing weight, so I’m sure the fight’s going to happen. There’s a lot of people relying on the fight, HBO, Top Rank, Banner Promotions and most of all, Brian Vera, who’s been ready to go for seven months now.”
If this fight didn’t take place, HBO - which has filled much of its autumn schedule - would be hard-pressed to find another date in 2013 for Chavez. But Arum states, “They’d always find a spot for Chavez because the kind of ratings he gets. If this was Joe Blow, yeah, there would be a problem but it’s Julio Cesar Chavez. But he’s here; obviously, he’s going to fight September 28th.”
Chavez is currently working with trainer Vladimir Baldenebro. They will be making their way to Las Vegas to work at the Top Rank Gym. And everyone around him says (what else?) that hard work is being put in.
“I’d say absolutely,” says Sean “Secret Service” Gibbons of Zanfer Promotions. “I mean, he had a lot of issues to deal with after the Martinez fight. He’s had some time to get himself set. But since he’s been back here in the U.S., I mean, the guy works hard. He may work hard in his living room; he may work hard in the gym - but when he works, he works. I really believe, like he said, this is the second half of his career.”
When Arum was asked if this was a new and improved Chavez (whom possesses perhaps a sense of urgency with his girlfriend being six months pregnant) he remarked, “I hope so. I’m not a psychiatrist. He seems like he has.”
To make sure Chavez shows up for this contest, the weight limit was set at 168. So does this mean his days as a middleweight are numbered? When this question was asked, Chavez suddenly answered in English, saying, “Maybe if I fight Martinez again, [Gennady] Golovkin, good fights. Maybe go to 168 to fight Sakio Bika or Andre Ward. I’d like to fight these guys.”
So there you have it. Chavez says he is now ready to start a new chapter of his career with enthusiasm and vigor. Those around him are hopeful (what choice do they have?) and the reality is the boxing business needs him. But the question is, does he need boxing? Unlike many others who get into this racket, for Chavez, boxing was a choice, not a necessity.
But he insists, “Yes, I love boxing.”
He can start proving that on September 28th.
During this press conference, Arum went through his fall schedule, which did not include Guillermo Rigondeaux - at least for now.
“We hope to have him fighting in December [on HBO],” said Arum, who added, “I think that Rigondeaux deserves to be on against a credible opponent. You can object to his style but people objected to [Floyd] Mayweather’s style for a long time and Mayweather fights in some of the biggest fights. So I don’t know why Rigondeaux should make a difference.”
Well, there is that whole Mayweather being an American and speaking English thing.
December 14th is a date being discussed for the rematch between Jhonny Gonzalez and Abner Mares, I’m told...Arum said that if Vasyl Lomachenko beats Jonathan Oquendo in his pro debut on October 12th, his desire is to face the winner of the bout between Orlando Cruz and Orlando Salido (who fight for the vacant WBO featherweight belt on that same card in Las Vegas)...Looks like Jadeveon Clowney needs to be put on a pitch count...I really Chuckie Keeton as a quarterback at Utah State...I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.