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Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Andrzej Fonfara predict explosive fight

19
Mar
Photo by Esther Lin/Showtime

Photo by Esther Lin/Showtime

Dream matchups are few and far in between, but former middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s return to the ring could be just that, at least from the perspective of the Mexican star and his opponent of choice.

“Before we picked Chavez, they offered me other names, and I said no. But as soon as they said Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., I said let’s do it,” said Sam Colona, trainer of former title challenger Andrzej Fonfara (26-3, 15 knockouts), who will be Chavez’s opponent on April 18 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT). “He has the perfect style for us. He comes straight to us. It’s going to be a great fight for Andrej, to show the power and the dedication he has.”

Chavez (48-1-1, 32 KOs), who will be making his Showtime debut and having his first fight away from Top Rank in the same event, couldn’t agree more.

“I feel good, I feel fresh again. I stayed in the gym every day, training, working on my skills. I am really confident,” said Chavez Jr., who will be returning to the ring after a layoff of more than a year. “I know Fonfara is a tough fighter, but I felt good in training and I am ready.”



Fonfara, on his part, believes that this fight will provide a stage to prove himself once again after his failed title bid against Adonis Stevenson last year.

“I think Chavez Jr. is a great fighter, he is a great champion,” said the Polish fighter, now living in Chicago. “Physically I feel good, I trained my harder for this fight and I am a better boxer. Chavez trained hard for this fight, but I always train for my fights, whether I fight with Chavez or anybody else.”

Chavez will be switching promotional companies and TV networks, and he admits that his split with Top Rank did affect his stability for a while (“This problem upset me a lot mentally. I am very happy this problem is behind (me) now,” said the fighter). But he will also be fighting as a light heavyweight (albeit at a catchweight of 172 pounds) and he will be adding the presence of an experienced voice in his corner with the recent arrival of Joe Goossen as his trainer

The new captain of the team could not be more excited about the opportunity to steer Chavez towards success in this new territory.

“Julio is very, very serious about this fight. He is very dedicated to this fight, both mentally and physically,” said Goossen about his new charge. “He showed me he is willing to work very hard for this fight, and it always works out well when a fighter cooperates in training, and he is doing that at 110 percent. I know his father very well and I am very honored to be part of the team. I can’t wait to display all of Julio’s talents. With the way Julio is training I am very confident with what I we’re doing right now.”

The weight limit of this fight was persistently mentioned as an issue by members of the media, but both Chavez and Fonfara, as well as their teams, quickly dismissed the issue.

“Going down is not too much effort, two pounds or more. I am not worried,” said Fonfara, a natural light heavyweight, who nevertheless hinted that the weight limit was imposed by Chavez’s camp. And Chavez himself didn’t necessarily dismiss that notion.

“I think the fight is in the right weight and there will be no advantage for anybody. The weight is very good for both fighters. This fight is (at) 172 (pounds), and since I don’t have to force myself to make weight I don’t feel the inactivity,” said Chavez, who indicated that he focused his training “more on the physical aspect,” likely to regain strength and confidence after his long layoff. “After this fight I will go back at 168 and take one or two years to move to 175. Right now I am still a 168-pound fighter, but because I took a one year off is that I fight at 172. In all of my career in boxing, in 12 years, I never missed weight.”

Goossen agrees on all counts.

“Julio is a well-rounded fighter. The weight is very close to 168, so it’s not going to be a problem at all,” said the veteran trainer, who instead chose to focus on the stylistic matchup ahead, and the versatility that his fighter will bring to the table.

“Julio is a multi-talented fighter. I watched him spar yesterday, and when he needed to box he did it beautiful, and when he needed to put pressure he pulled it off exactly how I liked it. And for that I am very confident. Whatever game plan we bring, and whatever style we bring, we’re going to be successful.”

The matter of Chavez’s style was an issue in his last two fights against Brian Vera, in which a significant portion of his always demanding Mexican fan base complained quite vocally about his inability to pull the trigger, but Chavez believes this new opportunity will help him change that notion.

“I believe the Vera fight was close, I wanted to give the people a better show, but this time I will be looking for that,” said Chavez, using the opportunity to throw another barely veiled swing towards his old promoter. “With this change of promotional company, now they tell me ahead of time with whom I will be fighting, and things will be very different. It will be a great fight for everyone.”

 

A Chavez by any other name would punch as hard

It has been said that the differences in style between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and his legendary father are notorious, but they fail to see a significant difference.

They do, however, perceive Fonfara in completely different fashion.

“I think is a tough, difficult fight for my son, Julio. I didn’t want this fight to be made because the opponent is very strong and tough,” said Chavez Sr. “But Julio wants opponents of the best possible level, and that’s why he took on Fonfara because he is a difficult fighter who will bring a lot of credibility to his career, if everything goes well.”

The pressure of bearing one of the greatest names in boxing history is not lost to both of them, but in their own way they see it mostly as a favorable trait rather than a hindrance.

“I believe it has been both,” said the elder Chavez. “(Junior) has achieved a lot in his own right but a lot has been asked of him, because there have been comparisons between Julio and me, and we are totally different. He fights at a much higher weight. I was able to move much more at my weight, get inside. And logically my son has my genes and he has a lot of me in him. In our boxing style we are similar, but in different weights.”

Junior, on the other hand, has a more positive outlook on this issue.

“I think it works for me this is an advantage,” said Chavez Jr. about his legendary surname. “I got more knowledge about boxing, but in the ring it doesn’t help me. In the ring I beat champions, and I beat number one contenders, and number two, and then number three, and I showed the people that I can fight too, that I am a good fighter. I put a good show in my fights. My style is a style for the people. And I think that in this fight with Fonfara he will come to fight, with a great heart and a great chin, and it will make a great fight.”

 

Diego Morilla, a bilingual boxing writer since 1995, is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He served as boxing writer for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com, and is now a regular contributor to RingTV.com and HBO.com, as well as the resident boxing writer for XNSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MorillaBoxing

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