Saturday night is a big fight for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr – a chance for him to earn his redemption against Canelo Alvarez.
It can’t be easy to be named Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.
Being the boxing son of the most revered and greatest champion in the rich history of Mexican boxing is difficult enough. But when you add the burden of not only carrying in your father’s legacy, but carrying in his very name, you create a weight many men would struggle to bear.
Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. has certainly struggled.
The career of Junior has been plagued by trouble. While he was a highly touted prospect from the very beginning, given nicknames such as “The Legend Continues”, it was immediately obvious to anyone paying attention that the hype was based on the legacy, not his actual skills. He was built up with a series of softball opponents, but at every step up in competition, he struggled, fighting back and forth fights with the kind of opponent he should have been wiping out.
Outside of the ring, things were no better. Chavez Jr. early developed a reputation for having weight issues, and in 2009 was suspended for using a banned diuretic. Over the next few years he would be arrested for drunk driving, suspended for marijuana use, and see his training relationship with Freddie Roach fall apart. And of course, the weight issues continued. These led to a highly controversial 2013 fight with Brian Vera where Chavez did not come close to making weight and so demanded the weight limit be moved in the final days before the fight. Chavez went on to win that fight via widely disputed unanimous decision. Fans were not kind to him throughout this process, as he quickly became one of boxing’s least liked fighters. It all came to a head on April 18, 2015 when a clearly out of shape Chavez opted to take a Light Heavyweight fight with Andrzej Fonfara and was promptly taken apart.
Now, after two inconsequential bounce back fights, Chavez has the biggest fight of his career Saturday night as he takes on Canelo Alvarez. For Chavez this fight can be summarized in one word.
Saturday night is the chance for “The Son of the Legend” to erase the past mistakes and come out looking like the true champion of Mexico that he was first billed as. And amazingly, the once widely reviled Chavez will, in the eyes of many fans, be the man to cheer for this time.
That’s because for all the mistakes Chavez has made over the years, Canelo has made one even greater – ducking. For over a year now, the fight to make in boxing has been Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin. And for over a year, Canelo and his camp have jumped around the fight with a series of nonsensical complaints about weight – for some reason, Canelo was not yet ready to face GGG at 160 pounds, but can face Chavez at 164.5. The boxing public knows this, and they do not forgive Canelo for it.
The Mexican fighting tradition is based on the idea of the proud warrior, taking on all comers in action fights. Yes, Chavez has betrayed that tradition through his lack of commitment to the sport. But now Canelo has betrayed it even more by refusing to fight the greatest warrior in the division he claims to be champion of.
And so Saturday night boxing fans turn to an unlikely hero. They turn to the prodigal son and they ask him to defend the tradition of Mexican boxing. They ask him to show Canelo what being a true champion and warrior means. They ask him to, at long last, be Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.
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