Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., who fights Saturday night on Showtime, (the network that has brought you all of your favorite fights this year like…) has pissed off a whole of people in short time. His attitude, apathetic at best, has turned many of his fans against him. He claimed to be rejuvenated for this fight, and then apparently made a deal at the last minute to come in two pounds over the previously agreed upon limit of 168 lbs., so clearly he’s super prepared. Also, he lost badly in his last time out. We’re supposed to say that this is it for him, except it’s not. Every writer knows this, even though several critics have written hyperbolic articles stating the exact opposite. He’s not going anywhere.
He could walk into that ring weighing 215 pounds while rewarding the paying crowd with a double-fisted jerk off hand motion. He could call his current trainer, the excellent Robert Garcia, a dumb ass. He could hurl insults at the broadcast team, then grab the microphone from Jim Gray and proclaim Stephen Espinoza, Showtime’s sports executive, to be a “grade A” penis. It doesn’t matter.
He’s Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., son of one of the greatest fighters of all time. And he’s basically been an insufferable dick for the majority of his career. The sense of entitlement, one that comes when your father is a living legend, has never been more prevalent in anybody. That’s why he does whatever he wants, like smoke lots of weed, or come in at basically any weight that suits him.
He’s coming off the second loss of his career, an awful performance against Andrzej Fonfara where he quit on his stool after getting drilled in the 9th round. Then he claimed he won, or was winning, or something not quite clear during the post-fight-post-concussion interview with Gray. In typical Chavez, Jr. fashion, he had plenty of people to blame for his poor performance. He was not one of them.
The immeasurable hubris that convinced him he could make up his own weight class ended up costing him a pretty serious ass kicking. Chavez works best when he’s smothering and brutalizing a smaller opponent. He’s an oak, leaning on a smaller tree until it collapses. His problem was that Fonfara, a very solid 175-lb. fighter, was one big-ass tree himself, and he used every branch to smack the shit out of him. Chavez, whose defense was never very good, swallowed every single punch like he normally does. But this time, he was the one going down.
He’s back, exactly three months after the beating, and this time he’s really super focused on boxing. He’s also back to the super middleweight division, right in his comfort zone — against a smaller guy. His opponent, Marcos Reyes, has spent nearly all of his career between 154-160 lbs., so we know why he’s there. He’s there to wilt. He’s there as a rebound. He’s there so Chavez can prove that he actually is really serious about the sport, a good 12 years after he should have been.
I’m not sure who’s really buying any of it, but again, it doesn’t matter. He’s a draw with a huge name. And he has unknowingly become one of the bigger heels in boxing. At least, I suppose he isn’t aware of it. Maybe he’s an evil genius and this is all part of the plan… It’s one thing to be polarizing, it’s another to be the poster child for spoiled brats everywhere. Thousands of fans will now be tuning in just to see if he gets detonated again.
Maybe someday he’ll grow up and realize that he has to actually earn his spot, rather than demand a proper place at the top. But it’s hard to imagine that a guy who has been handed every luxury, every elite trainer, every opportunity most fighters could only dream of, will suddenly become a modest, humble fighter willing to do awful stuff like train, and listen to instructions.
Chances are he’ll run right through Reyes. I’m not sure what that will prove, other than he can (approximately) make the 168-pound limit and beat a guy who will be significantly smaller on fight night. Where he goes from there is anybody’s guess. What isn’t in question is the fact that people will be watching, despite his shortcomings.
Chavez almost blew the roof off the Thomas & Mack Center in 2012, when after being dominated and embarrassed for 11 rounds, he finally caught and then battered middleweight champion Sergio Martinez around the ring in the 12th. He was mere seconds away from scoring a huge upset and creating his own legacy, separate from one his father paved. He was on the verge of something special. The collective explosion in that arena is a testament to the love people had for this guy. Now that’s all gone.
The thing is, people also love a story about redemption. And Chavez still has time to get there. Maybe finally tasting defeat has given him a little humility. There have been moments, usually quite fleeting, when he’s looked like something more than just a pampered kid trying to trade on his name. When he has gone on the attack, firing combinations and brutal body shots, he’s been effective as hell. If anything, he makes for some wildly entertaining bouts. With a little understanding of what it takes to endear himself to fans, he might be able to erase some of the past.
Or, maybe he’ll remain an indignant prick, throwing blame everywhere else for his own problems, and he’ll be widely hated. Either way, he’s not going to simply disappear if he fails to learn any lessons, or even if he loses again. Whether he fights at super middleweight, or light heavyweight, or super-middle-light-heavyweight-and-a-half, we’ll still be watching.
We’ll just be waiting for him to either drop the hammer, or have the hammer dropped on him.
(Photo: Chavez, dropped by Fonfara)