Julio Caesar Chavez Junior: It Seems Like Ages Ago
By: Sean Crose
It seems like ages ago that Julio Caesar Chavez Jr shook Sergio Martinez – and almost the entire world –by nailing the highly regarded Argentine in the twelfth and final round of their middleweight title fight. Sure, Chavez had been outmastered by the skillful Martinez throughout the bout, but for that one brief moment, the son of a Mexican legend was on top of the world. While Martinez went on to survive the round and win the bout, Chavez had proven that he was indeed capable of playing with the big boys – if only briefly.
It’s hard to believe it’s only been four years since that memorable night in Vegas. For since that time, Chavez’ reputation and career have cratered. I remember watching Chavez and Martinez go head to head on a program – I believe it was HBOs Face Off – and feeling sympathy for Junior. Martinez, a product of poverty, was really bashing the rich kid with the famous dad. I found it mean spirited and a bit unfair. Martinez, in fairness, seems to be a genuinely good guy, but I was put off by him on that occasion. What’s more, Martinez’ behavior made me sympathetic towards Chavez.
Just because one is born in privilege doesn’t mean one always gets unfair advantages, after all. Indeed, the classist snark some engaged in when discussing Chavez bothered me in general. Then, however, Chavez went and ruined all the good will he might have amassed by acting like – well, a spoiled child of privilege. The pot. The Brian Vera fiasco. The time away from the ring. Promotional problems. Reported discipline problems. Missing weight. Losing fans. All roads, in short, were leading to one Andrzej Fonfara.
And then it happened. Just a few short weeks before the Mayweather-Pacquiao superfight, things came crashing down for the man who would be king. Fonfara, a hungry fighter who nearly bested Adonis Stevenson, literally beat Chavez into submission. Many celebrated. Many mocked. It appeared many were truly surprised. Looking back on it all now, however, the loss made perfect sense. Chavez was far from the picture of dedication. And Fonfara was, well, a good fighter. Again, he had almost dethroned Stevenson. And so there it was.
Needless to say, Chavez fought one more time, three months after the Fonfara fight, and then – nothing. Over a full year of nothing so far as ring activity was concerned. It was, it seemed, classic Chavez. Now, however, the man is going back into the ring. Yet again, it seems to be classic Chavez. To be sure, the man has a long way to go before he reaches the heights he did during those exciting few seconds back in 2012 against Martinez. The question, of course, is whether or not Chavez has the discipline – or even the talent – to get back into the mainstream.
For the moment, though, Chavez has to deal with the fact that he has gone from pay cable to basic cable. To be sure, the guy won’t even be appearing on English speaking cable this weekend. No, he will be fighting Dominik Britsch (32-2-1) Saturday night on beIn television. Make no mistake about it, I’m a fan of the cards beIn broadcasts – for starters, it’s been a savior for fight fans when American television sleeps on boxing – but it doesn’t have nearly the reach of mainstream American television. And for a fighter as well known as Chavez (49-2-1), it’s quite the step down to find himself there on a card that is being broadcast very late – eastern standard time – on a Saturday evening.
Still, it’s worth noting that, at his best, Chavez is fun to watch. No, he hasn’t proven to be nearly as good as his father, but how many have? The truth is that a determined Chavez is an entertaining Chavez and an entertaining Chavez is good for the sport of boxing. Does the man have it in him, however, to struggle through the hard times? Frankly, it’s hard to tell. There’s nothing wrong, though, with hoping for the best…even if it’s been ages since that moment he rocked Martinez in a fight he was badly losing.