The last stand of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
May 5, 2017
LAS VEGAS – We are now only one day away from one of the biggest events in boxing this year when Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) steps in the ring with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KOs). The fight is not for any titles but is being promoted as a grudge match between Mexico’s two biggest stars. There is a natural rivalry between the two men as they have fought around the same weight classes and have criticized each other publicly through the media in the past.
This match for Alvarez is a risk as it takes places at a weight of 164.5 pounds; the highest Alvarez will have fought in his career thus far. Chavez will also be the bigger man come Saturday night, an advantage that can be used in his favor. It can be argued that the fight with Chavez for Canelo is more personal than one that will increase his legacy or current standing in the sport. Chavez has not been in contention for any major world titles in over five years. Canelo, whether he wins or loses, has endless options no matter what happens on May 6th.
Chavez, on the other hand, has the pressure of finally living up to the name of his father who for many is recognized as the greatest Mexican fighter in boxing history. On the one hand, the Chavez name led him to early success in paydays’ and headlining shows and PPV’s. When Chavez was headlining these shows as an attraction for promoter Top Rank, he was not taken seriously as a contender. Chavez was seen as more of a novelty act than a future world champion.
In 2011, Chavez won a world title when the WBC stripped then champion Sergio Martinez (51-3-2, 28 KOs) for not facing his mandatory Sebastian Zbik (30-2, 10 KOs). At the time HBO did not approve Zbik as an opponent for Martinez but decided that Zbik was good enough for Chavez to fight for his first world title. Chavez won a majority decision to capture the WBC middleweight championship, but it was not until 2012 when Chavez began to be taken seriously as a top fighter.
In June 2012, Chavez stepped in the ring against Andy Lee (35-3-1, 24 KOs) and provided his finest performance to date by stopping Lee in seven rounds. A fight was then set up between Chavez and Martinez to crown the best middleweight in the world. This was when Chavez’s career took a nosedive. The son of the legend decided that he did not need to train for Martinez fully. This was highlighted with midnight sessions of pad work in his living room. In the fight itself, Chavez lost every minute of eleven rounds until the 12th round where he finally landed on Martinez scoring a knockdown.
Things went full circle for Chavez after the Martinez fight. He finally achieved some of the recognition he desired before facing Martinez and then squandered it away with a lack of dedication. Everyone who doubted Chavez was nothing more than an entitled fighter living off of his father’s name was proved right with his actions. This is something that is not lost on Chavez.
There are only so many opportunities that a fighter can be given no matter how financially viable he may be. On May 6th, Chavez will take his last stand to show the boxing world and his detractors that he is to be taken seriously. Win or lose against Canelo if Chavez gives his full effort to provide a great fight he can hold his head up high. Fans anticipate a great fight on May 6th, let’s hope that both men are willing and ready to provide us just that.
(Feature Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)