Closer Look at Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Lou Eisen / July 20, 2012 - 3:56pm

It is not easy being the son and namesake of a legend. Most children of famous athletes have a very tough time living up to their father’s achievements. There are occasionally, exceptions to the rule. One of those shining exceptions is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who will challenge the ONLY middleweight world champion, Sergio Martinez on September 15th.

Chavez Jr. has managed to follow successfully in his father’s footsteps. When you consider that his father is the immortal Julio Cesar Chavez, generally agreed to be the finest Mexican fighter of all-time, Junior’s success takes on a new light and a new meaning. Having the Chavez family name has certainly opened doors for Chavez the younger but once he entered those doors, any success he achieved was due entirely to his own efforts and his own skills, which are formidable.

Boxing critics were very hard on Chavez Jr. early in his career. They accused Junior of trying to advance his career and make money solely by cashing in on his last name, which enabled him to get away with fighting a litany of club fighters, rather than facing fighters of any talent. For the most part, these criticisms were untrue and baseless. However, these were criticisms that Junior had to face on his own without his father’s help or guidance. What the critics and fight fans do not know is that Junior is very much his own man and has always turned down any and all help his father offered to him.

Sure, in the gym, Junior will take the occasional tip from his famous Dad on how to turn over his left hook to the liver just before impact to give the punch that much more crippling power. To ignore such tips would be foolish and unproductive. Junior loves and respects his Dad, despite recent comments to the contrary, but when it comes to training, Freddie Roach calls the shots in the gym and in the ring for Team Junior.

As mentioned above, on Saturday, September 15th, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. faces the toughest test of his young career when he challenges universally recognized world middleweight champion Sergio Martinez for ultimate supremacy in the middleweight division. The fight will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Thomas & Mack Center. Chavez Jr.’s WBC middleweight belt will also be up for grabs as well. Sentiment is clearly with Martinez as he is immensely popular with fight fans throughout the world. Don’t underestimate the magic of the Chavez name, as you can be sure that Junior will have his own loud and lively retinue of young fans cheering their lungs out for the boy who wants to be king.

As bright as Junior’s career looks now, especially with his brutal, one-sided battering of the talented and tough Irish Andy Lee recently, there are storm clouds lurking on his horizon. When faced before with such storm clouds, Junior has elected to, either run for cover or deny, deny, deny any and all charges leveled at him. This has not helped Junior’s image over the past year, where he has been involved in a seemingly unending series of controversies, all of which were entirely of his own making.

Chavez Jr.’s last three fights, and four of his last six fights have been fought in the state of Texas. The state of Texas has the most corrupt boxing commission in North America, if not the world. Chavez Jr. has willingly thumbed his nose at the rules and regulations outlined by the Texas state rules and regulations committee, while at the same time deliberately ignoring the WBC’s rulebook as well. He is able to do so with impunity in Texas because he knows he will suffer absolutely no repercussions at all for his flagrant flouting of the rules.

One of the reason’s Junior loves fighting in Texas is because he knows that he can make up the rules as he goes along, thanks to the close relationship between WBC main honcho Jose Sulaimon and Texas rules and regulations commission boss “Tricky” Dickie Cole. Both Cole and Sulaimon are dictators for life, running their respective organizations as personal fiefdoms for their own financial and personal benefits.

If the name Cole sounds familiar to you, it should. Dickie’s son is Laurence Cole, recognized as one of the three worst referees in all of boxing today. The incestuous ménage-a-trios between Dick Cole, Jose Sulaimon and the Chavez family is the sole reason Junior has not been charged, fined or suspended for his many continuous rules violations whenever he fights in the state of Texas.

In his last three consecutive fights fought in Texas, against Peter Manfredo, Marco Antonio Rubio and, most recently, Andy Lee, Chavez Jr. has refused to give urine samples before and after each fight. These urine samples are mandatory for all fighters in every state. All commissions require these samples to make sure all fighters are competing on a level playing field and not being given an illegal boost from performance enhancing drugs. Of course, after a fight, these tests also help to determine if a fighter has suffered any internal injuries.

Junior has been caught before with performance enhancing drugs in his system. In 2009, Junior was suspended when a urine sample given by him came up positive for use of the banned diuretic Furosemide, following his win over Troy Rowland. Furosemide is used primarily for weight-loss. Because of this positive drug result, Junior’s win over Rowland was immediately changed to a no contest ruling. This no contest boutvis often left off of Junior’s overall record when he is introduced in the ring.

Due to the positive drug test, Junior’s victory was changed to a no contest. He was also fined $10,000, a pittance for him, and suspended for seven months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Did Junior learn from this mistake? Yes, What did he learn? He learned to avoid fighting in Nevada at all costs and to only fight in Texas where he knows he can get away with any (drug) infraction he commits due to the protection he receives from his dueling partners in crime, Cole and Sulaimon. For those of you not in the loop, it should be stated that Junior’s legal godfather is Jose Sulaimon. Yes, you read that correctly. Sulaimon is Julio Cesar Chavez Junior’s godfather. To Sulaimon, Junior is a family member, and the supposedly impartial WBC king for life, routinely sits ringside cheering his godson on during his fights.

It has been an open secret for years that Cole and Sulaimon protect Junior regarding rule violations and infractions when he fights in Texas. The other reason that Junior insists on fighting in Texas, of course, is that it is literally next door to Mexico, and vast contingents of Mexican fans always come across the border to cheer him on to victory while trying to openly intimidate the judges and referees of his fights.

There was considerable worry before Junior’s most recent win over Lee that members of rival warring Mexican drug cartels were planning on attending the fight and then obliterating each other after the bout was done. Although this eventually turned out to be in the end nothing more than an unsubstantiated rumor, it certainly scared the living daylights out of the judges and the referee. To think that such terrifying rumors would not serve to forcibly intimidate judges and referees is foolhardy.

Prior to each of his three recent bouts in Texas, Junior said he was unable to provide a urine sample for WBC officials and the state of Texas’s rules and regulation committee. A pre-fight urine sample is mandatory in all states. You either provide it or you don’t fight. On three separate occasions, in three consecutive fights, Junior simply said he was unable to provide such a sample and got away with it! After each fight concluded, he exited each arena still wearing his ring attire without providing a post fight urine sample either. On each occasion, Junior was not disciplined.

Dickie Cole even went so far as to say that such urine samples from Junior were not really necessary because Junior had personally assured him that he was clean.

Junior claimed the pressure exerted on him by officials from the WBC and the Texas state commission, prevented him from emptying his bladder. At least, that was the first excuse he gave to the media. The second excuse included Chavez Jr. simply refusing to give a urine specimen because he had already gloved up. In giving different excuses for not complying with the rules of the sport, Junior gave the impression that he indeed had something nefarious to hide.

That Jose Sulaiman rubber stamped Chavez Jr.’s brazen rewriting of the rulebook should come as no surprise to any fan of fistiania. The WBC is essentially an in-house organization run for the express purpose of benefiting the Chavez family. The thing that makes this entire scenario even more distasteful is that Jose Sulaiman has never even made a half-hearted attempt to cover up his personal and professional bias on behalf of the Chavez family.

The other disturbing trend with Chavez Jr. is his inability to enter the ring anywhere close to the mandated weight requirement agreed upon contractually before the fight. What is even more frustrating about this is he is always allowed to get away with entering the ring weighing twenty or more pounds over the middleweight division’s 160 lb. weight limit. This deliberate nose-thumbing at the middleweight weight limit  provides Chavez Jr. with a profound advantage over  his foes. Even more salient is that such a huge weight advantage is potentially fatally dangerous to his opponents. Yes, there is no current rule limiting fighter’s weight gains between weigh-ins and fight night. This will no doubt change once a fighter dies in the ring after fighting a foe that possesses a 20 lb. or higher weight advantage on fight night.

Boxing needs to regularly discipline fighters such as Chavez Jr. whose continual flagrant disregard for the rules of the sport continue to jeopardize the safety of his opponents above and beyond the accepted norms of the sport.

Now, it would be unfair to say that Chavez Jr.’s record of 46-0-1 with 32 knockouts is entirely the product of performance enhancing drugs. Those of us in the media, who have been following Chavez Jr.’s career from the beginning, know that he has worked tremendously hard to improve his boxing skills. He does put in the long, arduous hours in the gym required by all young fighters to improve their game and advance in the ratings. 

Chavez Jr. has worked very hard to greatly improve his skill set, stamina and balance. All young boxers are a work in progress and Chavez Jr. is certainly no exception. The difference between Chavez Jr. and other young fighters is that he is able to skillfully apply every thing he has learned in the gym to the ring against increasingly tougher competition.

No doubt much of the credit for Junior’s improvement in the ring belongs to his Hall of Fame trainer, Freddie Roach. Under Roach’s masterful tutelage, the vast improvement in Chavez Jr. in all areas of his game has been as rapid as it has been remarkable. Before Roach, Chavez Jr. was an arm puncher with poor balance and little leverage on his shots. He was also very easy to hit with counter shots. His defense was virtually non-existent. Although Chavez Jr.’s defense these days may not be impregnable, it is vastly improved from what it once was.

Roach has helped Chavez Jr. develop a strong defense based on a hybrid of several styles. Chavez Jr. is unusually tall for a middleweight at six feet even. When his opponents are winging shots at him, Chavez Jr. holds his gloves up high and in tight in front of his face to block most power shots his opponents launch at him. Chavez Jr. uses his full height to create some distance from his foes, often forcing them to lunge, thereby leaving them open for Chavez Jr.’s powerful and numbing uppercuts. Even on defense, Chavez Jr. is still a threat to do significant damage to his opponent.

The most startling change in Chavez Jr.’s game has to do with his in-ring balance. In less than two years, Roach has patiently helped Chavez Jr. turn what was once a flaw in his arsenal into a huge benefit, second to none in the sport. Roach has taught him how to properly sit down on his punches and to use his legs to push off on his shots, giving each individual punch that much more jarring power upon impact on an opponent’s chin.

Roach has Junior fighting in more of a crouch, which also has helped his defense considerably too. Fighters absorb punchers well when using a crouch as it enables them to funnel the impact of a hard shot through their legs and then be ready to fire back instantly. Junior’s dramatic rise in ability and in the world rankings shows how invaluable a masterful and gifted trainer is to a young boxer. Freddie Roach turned an off-balance, gangly arm-puncher into one of the top two middleweights in the world.

Roach taught Junior that even though action during a boxing match happens very quickly, a smart boxer can slow the fight down by being patient in the ring and using his mind to outbox his foe.

Chavez Jr. has learned how to successfully blunt his opponents’ attacks by crowding them, taking away the room they so desperately need to punch. It is a savvy move usually associated with a veteran fighter. Such deft moves in the ring show precisely how far Junior has come in such a really short period of time.

Chavez Jr. is for real. He is not a pushover and he has the size and strength to give Sergio Martinez a real run for his title as the universally recognized world middleweight champion. Martinez has shown he can go the distance and still knock out his foes in the later rounds. That means he carries his punch with him for the whole bout. Chavez tends to tire in the later rounds. Look for Martinez to retain his title by a late rounds stoppage.