During Tuesday’s conference call in advance of Saturday night’s HBO-televised super middleweight clash with Bryan Vera at The StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., former WBC middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. discussed his issues with marijuana, a potential rematch with RING 160-pound champion Sergio Martinez, his problems with weight, impending fatherhood, and the presence of his own famous dad, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., in his corner, among many other things.
In another development, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum defended Chavez’s use of the drug when he exclaimed “I want to go on record as saying that there is nothing wrong with smoking pot.”
ARUM: ‘THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH MARIJUANA’
Chavez accepted “full responsibility for my actions and the consequences thereof,” and said he smoked weed because he was “having a tough time with sparring partners and his foot was hurting” in advance of his unanimous-decision loss to Martnez last Sept. 15 in Las Vegas, after which the Mexican star failed his drug test.
“You make mistakes. It happens. Everyone makes mistakes. We’re all human. I thought it was kind of excessive, what I got for that infraction, but it comes with the territory,” said Chavez Jr. during Tuesday’s call.
“I’ve learned from it, and I need to show everyone that I’m back and what I’m capable of doing. This Saturday night, I want to give a great performance and I want everybody to be proud of what I’m going to do on Saturday. That’s why I’ve worked so hard. I’m really looking forward to erasing all of those memories of that bad night that I had.”
Calling it “crazy,” at the time and saying “what kind of bulls__t is this?”, Arum was initially outraged by Chavez’s first fine, which, at the time, represented the second-biggest ever in the history of the Nevada Commission, according to NSAC executive director Keith Kizer.
The highest was Mike Tyson’s $3 million for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear in 1997, with the old record for No. 2 having been $200,000 against Bernard Hopkins when he pushed Winky Wright at the weigh-in prior to their clash in 2007.
Arum was equally defiant on Tuesday.
“I want to go on record as saying that there is nothing wrong with smoking pot. There is nothing wrong with marijuana. Any sentence and any suspension for an athlete for having smoked marijuana other than when he was actually performing in the ring is unconscionable, is wrong, and even [The World Anti-Doping Agency] has said the same thing. Let’s be real about it,” said Arum.
“There is nothing wrong with pot and pot can absolutely even be beneficial. I know what Julio has said about doing wrong, and I don’t think that he did anything wrong by taking marijuana two weeks prior to his fight with Martinez. The rules of the commission have changed now. There is a doctrine now that if the rules are changed, that it applies retroactively to him. Those rules were preposterous and they’ve now been changed.”
Chavez Sr. was 89-0-1 before losing his first bout. The Mexican legend compiled an overall career mark of 107-6-2, with 86 knockouts. Despite never having competed as an amateur, Chavez Jr. has succeeded in a sport where sons of famous father’s rarely do.
“I think Julio should get enormous credit. We all know about athletes who have fathers who were world famous, and how difficult it is for them to excell, particularly in the same sport. But I think that he’s carried himself well, he’s become his own person. He isn’t a carbon copy of his father’s style. He has his own style,” said Arum.
“So I think that he’s done extraordinarily well. Boxing is a tough sport, and the fighters who succeed the most are those who come from impoverished backgrounds. We know that. He didn’t come from an impoverished background because of who his father was, but he had dug deep and he has performed well, and I am very proud of what he’s done in the ring.”
Arum was particularly impressed with Chavez against Martinez, whom Chavez dropped in the 12th round.and said that he remains confident that he will be victorious against Vera.
“I think that Chavez is an enormous talent, and that he’s always performed at a very high level for us. We’re proud of his performances, even in the Martinez fight. Where Martinez was getting the better of him, Chavez wouldn’t quit and he stayed in there, and he almost pulled out the fight, miraculously, in the last round,” said Arum.
“I never doubt Julio Chavez Jr. and his performances. He’s a true athlete, and he always gives 100 percent in the ring. I’m proud of the way he performs, I’m proud of the way that he fights, and I’m proud of the way that he entertains the crowd. I think that the adulation of the Mexican fans for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is very justified.”
CHAVEZ JR. TO BE A FATHER
Chavez Jr. announced that he and his girlfriend are expecting their first child, a daughter, in early December.
“There’s been a lot of changes in my life. I’m coming off of a loss. I’m coming off of a suspension. There’s a lot of things that have happened with my career and in my personal life. My girlfriend is pregnant. I’m going to be a father for the first time, so I’ve actually had some time to adjust. I’ve been able to concentrate on my personal life,” said Chavez.
“I wasn’t ready to fight any time soon anyway. Now, it’s time to get back to the ring since I’m settled in my personal life. “You see things different in life. I know that in December, my girlfriend and I, we’re going to have a baby. It changes a lot of things in your mind and about what you’re trying to do. Everyone knows how special my bond is with my father, and I’m looking forward to it.”
CHAVEZ’S MONDAY WORKOUT
Although Chavez (46-1-1, 32 knockouts) was originally expected to face Vera (23-6, 14 KOs) at 168-pounds, the 27-year-old revealed during the call that he still weighed as much as 173.
Sean Gibbons, who is with Chavez’s Mexico-based promoter, Zanfer Promotions, said he and Chavez Sr. were with the younger Chavez as the fighter worked out for more than two hours on Monday at a hotel in Los Angeles.
“We put the time in at the Biltmore Hotel last night. He was on a treadmill for about an hour working there. Then, he got off and pedaled on the bike for about a half an hour,” said Gibbons, during a separate interview with RingTV.com.
“There was shadowboxing, and then he went to swim. He loves to swim. He’s like a dolphin. That’s where we ran into [actor] Danny DeVito, who checked out Julio and his father.”
WEIGHTY ISSUES FOR CHAVEZ JR., VERA
Arum said he plans to discuss the potential for changing the weight requirement with Vera’s promoter, Artie Pelullo, during a Wednesday morning meeting, and that the boxer’s fighting weights will be determined during a weigh-in later in the day.
“I’ve talked with my fellow promoter, Artie Pelullo, who is the promoter for Bryan Vera, and Artie and I are having breakfast tomorrow morning in Los Angeles at the Biltmore Hotel,” said Arum. “I don’t want to discuss it. I’m having a discussion with Artie Pelullo, who is a real professional promoter, and Artie and I always manage to find a solution.”
The issue arose when Chavez Sr. told a news outlet that weight limit for the bout had been increased to 173 pounds, according to ESPN.com, which Pelullo said is not true.
“Bryan’s on weight. Bryan’s not going to weigh in tomorrow. The problem is that Chavez Sr. went online and said that they have a problem. We don’t have a problem, so Bryan Vera’s not going to check his weight. We don’t want to be put in the same situation. Why would we have to check our weight? We’re already at 169 or 170. We won’t have to worry about that. We’re going to negotiate now because he can’t make weight. His father already went online and said that he can’t make weight If he’s 173, then why are we even talking? But will Bryan Vera do the deal? Absolutely,” said Pelullo, who acknowledged the breakfast meeting on Wednesday.
“We will just have to work out a financial consideration that would be given to Bryan Vera because Chavez can’t make weight. We have a contract to deliver Bryan Vera at 168 pounds, and I will deliver him that, and Bryan’s already at 168 or 169 right now. The problem has occurred because Chavez Jr. is overweight. He said on that conference call today that he’s 173. I have a contract for Bryan Vera to weigh 168 pounds. Now if Chavez Jr. is 173, then there’s no problem, and he should be able to make weight. If he’s not too heavy, the fight’s going to happen. Depending on how much he weighs in at, and what he’s going to weigh the next day, that’s what it’s all about.”
CHAVEZ JR. WILL HAVE JULIO SR., TWO OTHERS, IN CORNER, NOT FREDDIE ROACH
Five-time Trainer of The Year Freddie Roach will not be in the corner of Chavez Jr. for the first time seven fights against Vera. Instead, Chavez Jr. will hear the voices of his father, long-time assistant Vladimir Baldenebro and perennial cut man, Miguel Diaz, this after having declared last month that Roach would be back again.
“My main trainer for this fight is Vladimir Baldenebro, and he has always been in my corner and helped me out. Luis Cornejo has helped me to get to 160 for my last couple of fights and worked on my conditioning,” said Chavez Jr.
“[Chavez Sr.] in there [camp] with me at least three times a week…The key is that my father will be in my corner. In the past, he was yelling and screaming in between rounds, and nobody knew what was going on. Now, he’s going to be in the corner, giving me instructions on what he’s seeing, and I think that’s important.”
With Roach at the helm, Chavez Jr. went 6-1, with two knockouts, and won a middleweight title.
“Freddie Roach laid a serious foundation and was tremendous in the beginning. Then, Freddie got very active and very busy, so there wasn’t time to concentrate on Julio. But he was great for that first couple of years,” said Gibbons of Roach, whose prize charge is Manny Pacquiao.
“Vladimir Baldenebro has been there for nine years, and he always the second in command working along with whoever was in camp. So when Julio first came to Freddie Roach in 2010, Vladimir Baldenebro was there the whole time along with Freddie. So in this corner, here, it will be Vladimir Baldenebro, Julio’s father, and one of the greatest all-time cut men, Miguel Diaz, who is also a strategist and brings a lot more to the table.”
Chavez Jr. concurs.
“The important thing is that I know those guys. I’ve been around those guys. Vladimir has been with me for nine years, and my father knows him very well. Cornejo has been with me for the last four years, so I know him very well,” said Chavez Jr.
“We’re not going to have any problems in the corner. The key to the whole thing is that [my father] has to look professional. No more jumping up from the seat and running and doing something that takes me out of focus. I think that it will be great for all of us.”
Roach began with his unanimous decision over John Duddy in June of 2010, and was there for victories over Billy Lyell and Sebastian Zbik by unanimous and majority decision in May and June of 2011, the latter for the WBC’s 160-pound belt.
Roach also guided Chavez to stoppages of Peter Manfredo Jr. and Andy Lee in November of 2011 and June of 2012 in the fifth and seventh rounds, as well as a unanimous decision over Marco Antonio Rubio in February of 2012.
“The only thing that people remember is the Martinez camp, because that’s when there was a real meltdown between the trainers, and there were arguments and a lot of other s–t going on. But it’s not like Julio didn’t train. There was a misconception. If you were with Julio like I was, you would see that this f–king guy trains as hard as anybody who has ever trained,” said Gibbons.
“I’ve been with Julio for all of his big fights over the past few years. I’ve been in camp with him, and I’ve seen him work. When [Top Rank’s] Bruce Trampler first brought Julio to see Manny Pacquiao work out, that’s when he developed his work ethic. Julio looked at Manny Pacquiao, and he said, ‘that’s what I want for me.’ Never for any fights has Julio not given it 120 percent in training.”
After facing Vera, however, Chavez Jr. will weigh his options as to who will be his trainer, including Roach and Robert Garcia, the reigning Trainer of The Year.
“He’s considering Freddie, and, Garcia, absolutely. There will also be another two or three guys in the mix that myself, and, Bruce Trampler will consider,” said Gibbons.
“We lean on Bruce because he’s the top matchmaker of our generation and one of the most knowledgeable guys. We’ll make a list and we’re going to go over it and see what’s best for Julio, training-wise.”
Gibbons said that strength and conditioning coach Luis Cornejo was present for the first time for Chavez’s victory over Lee, working together with previous strength coach, Alex Ariza. Cornejo has since replaced Ariza, said Gibbons.
“Julio was at his best for the Andy Lee fight, which was the first time that we had Luis full time,” said Gibbons. “The two previous fights, Alex Ariza was killing Julio trying to get him to make the weight.”
Chavez also said that Roach and Garcia are considerations.
“I need to see how I do in this fight. The guys have been great with me in this camp. I have to see how I look and how I feel. I’m not saying no to Robert Garcia, and I’m not saying no to going back with Freddie Roach. It just depends on what comes out next. I just want to look good and then we’ll go from there,” said Chavez Jr.
“I’m looking forward to winning a title at 168, which is something that no other Mexican has done. That’s one of my goals, and to maybe go up and win another title at light heavyweight. All that I’m thinking about on Saturday is how I look and if I do well. I want to look good, and then, think about what’s next. I’m very interested in getting Martinez again, and I would sacrifice everything to make the 160 weight because I still want that fight.”
CHAVEZ: FACIAL DAMAGE NOT AS BAD AS IT LOOKED AFTER MARTINEZ FIGHT
Chavez Jr. said there were no broken bones or other facial damage besides cuts after the loss to Martinez, despite his badly swollen eyes and bleeding face.
“After that fight, I didn’t have to go to the hospital. I wasn’t cut. There was no serious damage. There was nothing other than the scratches that you get from being in a fight for 12 rounds,” said Chavez Jr.
“Other than that, I was never seriously hurt. My body was fine. I was fine. Never had to go to the hospital. I went to a night club right after the fight, so you know that I wasn’t hurt. I could have gone another 12 rounds if I had to.”
Chavez also said that the cut that postponed the Vera fight from Sept. 7 is healing well.
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Photo courtesy of Sean Gibbonns
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]