by Hans Olson
The name is synonymous with Mexican boxing.
For years, Julio Cesar Chavez thrilled audiences with his abilities, turning in performances that etched his name in as one of the greatest boxers to have ever lived.
It has become increasingly difficult to separate the elder Chavez legend from son Julio Jr.
The blessing and curse of bearing the name.
Though a superstar in Mexico, Chavez Jr. has yet to cross over to boxing’s mainstream above the border. This weekend against Sebastian Zbik, he may do just that.
#1 Contender Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.(R) ,Culiacan,Mexico poses with his father, the legendary champion Julio Cesar Chavez(L) Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank
“I have prepared well for this fight, I know I have a tough fight I am going up against the champ, but I have prepared myself to win” Chavez Jr. said at the fight’s press conference at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in Los Angeles.
Chavez may have to do more than just win, to win over the many who doubt him.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has been ridiculed for years by media and fans alike, the general consensus being that he is where he is not because of talent or skill, but by the luck of being the offspring of one of the greatest the sport has ever seen. It’s a circumstance that is both fortunate, and unfortunate.
To start out…the kid can fight!
His left hook to the body is a thing of beauty, and against ‘Irish’ John Duddy last year, he showed a gritty resolve that many didn’t think he had.
Secondly, who ever said Julio Jr. needed to be a boxer in the first place? Plenty of world-class fighters have children, a vast majority of them may never lace up the gloves—and why would they? Julio certainly didn’t grow up with the same hardships of his father, and one would think he had no reason to follow him in his boxing footsteps.
For all of the “silver spoon” talk that Chavez is hammered with, folks should realize this:
A fighter who fights even when he doesn’t have to may be the very testament of what a fighter is. Chavez Jr. seems to have a desire that burns deep. You don’t get to where he is simply by showing up.
When Chavez Jr. decided to take up boxing, he did so quickly. First entering the professional ranks at age 17, he was viewed as a raw, long term project…or maybe just a nice side attraction on the undercard to his father, who was winding down his career.
Those things were true.
But he won, kept winning, and still hasn’t lost.
Has he been moved slowly? Yes. Has his name gotten him further than another fighter who may possess equal skill and determination? Sure. But don’t fault the kid for it. He’s in the ring taking the punches. Whether it’s for himself or his father, he is doing what very few of us can.
Many of us search for the admiration of our fathers for years. I’m 28, my father died when I was 24. He was an amateur boxer, finishing 2nd in the Vermont Golden Gloves in 1977. Although his first love was baseball, he equally loved hockey and football. Those were the 3 sports he coached my brothers and I in as we grew up. Boxing would remain mythical to me. It has served me well when I write about it—I’m able to separate many emotional aspects of it differently than with other sports. Memories of boxing go back far…the heavy bag that hung in our garage, the old pair of Everlast gloves in our basement…newspaper clippings, pictures, jump-rope—dusty remnants of a glorious sport I came to love, left over from the fighting years of my Dad. Just looking at pictures of him in the ring made him seem superhuman to me.
You don’t ever think of yourself as superhuman.
This brings me back to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Stop and think about where he is, and what he can achieve on Saturday night.
Some will root for him, some will root against him, but if you have a father who was a fighter in any capacity, you can understand why you should respect him.
follow Hans Olson on twitter: @hansolson