Undefeated World Boxing Council (WBC) middleweight champion Sebastian Zbik defends his title against undefeated Julio César Chávez, Jr. in the main event of “The Son Also Rises,” this Saturday night at STAPLES Center. The fight will be televised live on HBO, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast.)
Chávez Jr., son of three-division world champion Julio César Chavez, will attempt to join the elite group of world champion father-son tandems, including: Floyd Patterson & Tracy Patterson, Leon Spinks & Cory Spinks, Wilfredo Vazquez and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., and Guty Espadas and Guty Espadas, Jr.
BOB ARUM: This is going to be a great night of boxing. The undercard will feature world champion Christy Martin, making a personal and professional comeback as she goes for her landmark 50th victory. And former U.S. Olympian and undefeated No. 1 contender Vanes Martirosyan takes on Saul Roman in a WBC super welterweight title elimination bout. The HBO broadcast will open with Mikey Garcia risking his undefeated record and No. 1 ranking in a featherweight battle against power-punching Miguel Beltran Jr. of Mexico. And then it’s our main event, a battle of the undefeated as Sebastian Zbik defends his WBC middleweight title against No. 1 contender and the Son of the Legend Julio César Chávez, Jr.
Saturday will be an historic night as Julio Jr. battles for his first world title, the middleweight championship in the same city where his father — Julio César Chávez, soon to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame — won his first world title, at the Olympic Auditorium. This was the real start of his legendary career. Now his son Julio Jr. tries to continue in that same tradition. What a story.”
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: This is the toughest training camp I have ever been to. It is preparing me the best I have ever prepared for a fight and I know how important this fight is for me and my career and I’m looking forward to this fight on Saturday.
This is great for me and I’m very excited and happy that I am fighting for my first world title in the same city [Los Angeles] that my father won his first world title. My father will also be going to the Hall of Fame next week and he earned that and I am happy for him but right now I’m not even thinking about that. I’m thinking about my fight on June 4 and winning a world title.
FREDDIE ROACH: We have had a great training camp and he’s in great shape. I think he’s in the best shape I have ever seen him in. He is responding to everything I am giving him – using angles. I am very happy with where we are. His weight is not a problem – Alex Ariza is on top of that. He’s 100% ready for this fight.
Will it mean something to you having accomplished this on your own?
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: This is the perfect opportunity for me to create my own history. My name is Julio César Chávez right now and it will always be my name and I’m very proud to carry that name. I am ready right now to win the title and decide my own history and my own legacy.
What do you know about Zbik?
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: He looks like a real good boxer and a tough guy. He’s undefeated and that means something. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve seen him fight but you never can tell if a guy is a big puncher or not from watching it on tape. You have to go into the ring and find out and that’s what I’m going to do.
FREDDIE ROACH: He has a European straight up style and pretty much fights in a straight line. I think our boxing ability is going to give him a lot of trouble. We have looked at the video and we are going to use a lot of angles on him. We are going to keep him turning into combinations because he will follow you wherever you go.
Bob, can you explain how big this will be if Julio wins the title?
BOB ARUM: México is one country that has a great boxing tradition and right now boxing is booming in México. To have Julio win a world title would be enormous for the people in México. 17% of the population in the U.S. is Hispanic of which the overwhelming majority is Méxican so obviously if Julio wins the title it will enhance his marketability not only in México but in the United States.
Where do you think you have improved most working with Freddie Roach?
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: To me, my overall improvement has been great. Everything has been better especially my conditioning. I have done a lot more than I have ever done in conditioning he has taken me to another level. I am learning something new every day. With the condition I am now in I can do whatever they ask of me and that is a big step.
Do you feel any added pressure because of his father’s success?
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: There are pressures in every fight and I do understand the pressure in trying to win your first world title. But I am very confident in all the work I have done. I have worked very hard in this camp and am very concentrated and I feel this is the time for me to step up and I’m ready for it.
The Duddy fight was probably the best we had seen Julio look. Is that what you expect this fight?
FREDDIE ROACH: I actually expect a much better performance because we had a much better training camp for this fight. We had great sparring for this fight including Vanes Martirosyan and another kid from Australia who is 18-0. Vanes really helped us get ready for this fight and he improved and the way he has sparred has really made me confident that he will be ready on Saturday.
Do you feel he is the same or better than Duddy?
FREDDIE ROACH: I don’t like to compare or contrast but he has won a world title and you respect that and that’s why we are ready for this fight. This is for all the marbles. This is it. This is the big one and we know it and we’re ready for it.
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: My expectations are that this will be the best I have ever prepared for a fight and this is the best I am ever going to fight. My expectation is that I have trained with Freddie for three fights and this is the longest we have trained together. The first one, for Duddy, we only trained for four weeks and the second, with Lyell, about 20 days together. This has been a long camp and my conditioning is great. I feel great and I spent so much time with Freddie now that we know each other better. I think my performance should be a lot better than it was for Duddy.
Will it be boxing ability or edge in punching power will be the difference?
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: I think my style is going to be there and my power is going to be there. But I have to know how to use it – that’s why we have worked so hard. Not only the ability to do the things you are supposed to do but doing them right and I think that’s what is going to help me. I know I am strong enough, but I have to know how to use it and I think I will in this fight.
Do you feel Zbik is dangerous?
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: I feel that he is dangerous because he is a world champion. I know he’s a great boxer and I know he’s coming to fight. This is the most important fight of my career and he thinks it’s the most important fight of his career as well. He wants to be well known and this will give him the opportunity.
Your father commented the other day about being scared…
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: I don’t think I am going to lose the fight. I am mentally prepared to win. I know how important the fight is and about winning the championship.
Many Méxicans come from poverty and fight for the money. You don’t come from poverty…why do you fight?
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: To me, it is something that I love to do. I grew up in boxing. All my life I saw how good boxing was to my father and I always wanted to be part of it, somehow, some way. I want to make a name for myself. I am very hungry to do something in this world, to be someone in this world and I think boxing has given me the opportunity to do so. I am just as hungry as any other guy and I want to win a world title just like any other boxer.
You haven’t won a fight by knockout in a while. Do you think the fans will be looking for one on Saturday?
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: I think the experience has been great going all of those rounds and I think it has helped me. I understand in boxing you can’t always knock the other guy out – sometimes you have to work and get a decision. This Saturday I obviously want to give the fans a knockout but if it goes to a decision and I win, that’s OK too.
There have always been doubters about your career and whether you should be fighting – what does that do for you?
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: It motivates me and makes me better — all those people who are doubting me. Slowly but surely I have been stepping up to better competition – better all the time and I do want to prove to everyone that I am capable of winning a world championship.
Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez are going to be at ringside saying they want to fight you next. Do you think you are ready for those kind of fighters?
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: I think I am ready for anyone, including those guys. But first things first. I have to win on Saturday to prove I am capable of fighting those guys. When I win, I won’t need words, my actions will tell you how ready I am for those guys.
Do you think you should be fighting for a world title at this stage in your career?
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: I think by fighting John Duddy, who was a top ten-rated fighter and by fighting Billy Lyell, who also fought for a world title, I think I earned the right. If Billy Lyell could fight for a world title, why not me?
Do you think people use your name to create for themselves?
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: I dedicate my life to boxing. I go in the ring to do the best that I can, to try to win all the time. I don’t use words. I don’t talk about anyone. I just go and fight and do the best that I can and to me words don’t mean anything.
Oscar De La Hoya had some problems and obviously your family had those same problems…how do you feel about winning a world title and getting all the fame and all the money?
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: People are human and everything happens for a reason. I saw a lot of things with my father in my lifetime and obviously I think I am prepared to handle anything that comes my way. I am also human and you never know what is going to happen. You just try to do the best you can, not only in the ring but in your life.
Your father’s last victory [May 28, 2005 – a unanimous decision over Ivan Robinson] came at STAPLES Center in a full house and his first title came at the Olympic in a full house [September 13, 1984 – TKO 8 of Mario Martinez for the vacant WBC super featherweight title]. Do you expect the same kind of backing?
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: It is different times and different places. He had already done his history and I want to make my own history. I hope the fans are there and I hope we have a nice historic night at STAPLES Center on Saturday.
This is an opportunity for you to fight for a world title against a real tough fighter…
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: I know this is a very important fight for me, the most important of my career. I know I am fighter, a real fighter, a guy that is undefeated and that is why I prepared so well and why I am so excited and so motivated. The opportunity I have waited so long for is here and I am looking forward to challenging myself.
How special will this be for you?
FREDDIE ROACH: It will be great to win the world title. It will make his father proud and make me proud. I know Julio is in great shape to do that and he has done everything he can to be ready for this fight. Everything I have asked him to do he has responded very well. Julio is a great person and he’ll be great for the sport to be champion. I think he will hold the title well and he’ll defend it well.
BOB ARUM: As I remember, before Julio Chávez, Sr. fought for a title he had many, many non-title fights  and he was very well known to the Mexican fans and when he finally fought for the world title at the Olympic they came out to support him. Gradually he picked up more and more fans until he was one of the greatest if not the greatest attraction of his time in boxing. Hopefully Julio Jr. will reach the level where he has the same type of fan base.
Has Julio Sr. given Jr. any advice?
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: The advice my father has always given me is the same he gave me after this fight was announced — to work hard. Go to the gym and give it 100% every day that you train. As long as you go to the gym and train as hard as you can, the fight will be the easiest part. As long as you prepare yourself in the gym, it is the key to the whole fight. If you work hard, you are going to win the championship.
Will Julio Sr. be doing the commentary for this fight?
BOB ARUM: He’ll be at the fights, but I don’t think he’ll be doing the commentary for Julio Jr.’s fight. He may do the commentary for the Mikey Garcia-Miguel Beltran Jr. fight.
BOB ARUM: I want to thank everybody for being on this call today. I am looking forward to this fight on Saturday. I really believe we are reaching a historic moment, if Julio comes through as I believe he will, people will remember this as a start of a new era in boxing.
FREDDIE ROACH: Julio, thank you for listening to me and working so hard. I know we are ready to win the title and we are going to bring it home on Saturday.
JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ JR: I am looking forward to this and I hope everyone can make it here to see my fight. I am well prepared and am looking forward to being the first Mexican to win the world title at middleweight.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Zanfer Promotions, Universum Media Network, TECATE and STAPLES Center, “The Son Also Rises: Zbik vs. Chávez, Jr. World Middleweight Championship” takes place This Saturday! June 4, at STAPLES Center, and marks the first fight Chávez Jr. has fought in Los Angeles in six years. HBO will televise it live, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast.)
Remaining tickets, priced at $100, $75 and $50, can be purchased online at www.staplescenter.com, via Ticketmaster charge-by-phone lines at (800) 745-3000, or at the STAPLES Center box office.
The world championship event will be highlighted by a celebration of the boxing career of Julio César Chávez, who will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame the following week.
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