Feature Story

Chavez Jr. on the “most important fight of my life”

Story by Andreas Hale
Photos by Chris Cozzone

When Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. started his professional career as a wiry 17-year-old in 2003, skeptics scoffed at the prospect of the then-130 pounder living up to his father’s legendary career. Nine years and 48 fights without a defeat (46-0-1, 32 KOs, 1 No Contest) later, the undefeated WBC Middleweight champion has the opportunity to step out of his father’s shadow as he faces the toughest test of his career in Sergio Martinez on September 15th at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. For Chavez Jr., facing the man who current sits at #3 on many boxing pundits’ fictional pound for pound list will be a make or break fight for the popular Culiacan fighter. If the 26-year-old loses, he’ll be considered a fighter who made a living off of his name and when tested, was exposed. If he comes out victorious, his skeptics will have to bow down and finally give Chavez Jr. his due. At Thursday’s media day at the Top Rank gym in Las Vegas, Chavez Jr. discussed what he considered “the most important fight of his life.”

Well aware of Martinez’ ring intelligence and athletic ability, Chavez Jr. knows that he will have to bring the fight to the Argentinean’s front door. “He has a style that he needs to use in order to win,” Chavez Jr. said. “He uses his jab a lot with movement and spacing. I’m not going to give him any space.”

Since winning the WBC middleweight title against Sebastian Zbik in 2011, Chavez has rounded into form as a bigger version of his father. His constant pressure and relentless body attack coupled with a granite chin has worn down his opponents. Impressive showings against Peter Manfredo Jr., Marco Antonio Rubio and Andy Lee has demonstrated his ability to break anyone’s will. Martinez will be no different.

“I have to make him stand up and fight,” Chavez continued. “The more he moves and steps side to side, the more difficult the fight is for me. I have to make him fight every minute of every round. If you let him do what he wants and slow the fight down, it’s going to be a difficult night. You have to heighten the pace and keep him busy.”

The one thing that Martinez has been busy doing is trash talking the younger Chavez. Their HBO “Faceoff With Max Kellerman” segment saw an uncharacteristically incensed Martinez berate Chavez with promises of delivering the worst beating ever conceived to the young fighter. It was evident to many that Martinez was simply trying to get into Chavez’ head. But to Chavez trainer Freddie Roach, what he saw was different. “I think Martinez and his trash talking is a way for him to motivate himself. I think he’s a little bit scared. Both he and his trainer talk a lot of trash but we’ll see if they can back it up on fight night,” Roach told FightNews. The hall-of-fame trainer suggested that his biggest concern on September 15 isn’t whether Martinez can knock out Chavez, it’s if he can outbox him.

It’s no secret that Martinez is the slicker of the two fighters. His constant movement and unorthodox style has given opponent’s fits. However, the aging body of the 37-year-old will be a target for Chavez Jr. in hopes of slowing down The Ring Middleweight champ. “You have to go to the body with Sergio because I notice he doesn’t like to get hit there,” the 26-year-old said. “As long as I get my shots in to his body I’ll be okay. He just doesn’t like to be hit.”

Like his father, Chavez Jr. plans to stalk his way to a victory on September 15. If he’s able to do that, it’s going to be hard to dispute that he’s simply living off of his father’s name.

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