Chasing Pops

Photo by Al Applerose

JCC Jr. Chasing Pops

By David A. Avila

In the world of prizefighting when you’re born with a silver spoon that’s a disadvantage.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has been chasing the legendary status of his father Mexico’s greatest fighter Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. since childhood. It’s somewhat like chasing a cloud.
Chavez Jr. (48-1-1, 32 Kos) takes one serious step toward fulfillment when he faces Poland’s Andrzej Fonfara (26-3, 15 Kos) in a super middleweight bout on Saturday April 18, at StubHub Center. Showtime will televise the event. 

As youths both Chavez brothers Julio and Omar studied their father’s fights and could recite his victories and accomplishments by rote. Whether it was beating Meldrick Taylor with a last second knockout or destroying Puerto Rico’s Edwin Rosario. They knew all the moves and tendencies of their famous father.

“I used to tell them you can’t fight like your father, you have to fight like you,” said Willy Silva whose Mira Loma boxing gym they frequented in their teens. “Both are very tall.”

But papa Chavez was a giant among fighters and even their taller height can’t compensate.

The oldest Chavez boy Julio Jr., won the WBC middleweight a few years back but was unable to generate fan interest like his father who set the modern day record of drawing 132, 247 fans to Azteca Stadium in Mexico City back in February 1993. That seems unreachable for “Junior” who barely drew more than 4,000 at StubHub Center in September 2013.

Junior does have talent. When he fought Argentina’s Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez in a battle of middleweight champions in September 2012, he finally caught the speedy champion in the last round and dropped him with a single left hook. He nearly won the fight but ran out of time. That knockdown ruined Martinez who suffered a knee injury and hasn’t recovered from it.

Chavez Jr. and his brother Omar both possess chins seemingly impervious to punches and both wield that vaunted left hook like the father. But the boxer’s skillset has been slow in coming. 
Some say it’s that silver spoon that keeps them from learning properly.

Freddie Roach, who formerly trained Junior, said it’s difficult to train someone used to having their way.

“Most fighters are hungry,” said Roach who still trains Manny Pacquiao. “The best fighters are the hungriest.”

Junior was 17 when he began fighting professionally and only had one amateur fight. He never wondered where his next meal would come from or work eight dreary hours a day like most pro boxers. Now he’s 29 and perhaps realizes time is running out. He faces a rugged opponent in Fonfara who he personally chose to fight. It’s a surmountable challenge, one that his father would have taken during his heyday. 

“I expect the fight to be physical. I know he’s strong,” said Chavez. “I expect a very, very good fight.”

A win over Fonfara, a former IBO light heavyweight titleholder, could propel Chavez to a showdown with the monster of the middleweight division Gennady “GGG” Golovkin at a catch weight. It could also be the first step in shedding the silver spoon label that’s kept fans from becoming ardent believers.

“I’m ready to win,” Chavez says.