The tumultuous (and expected) fall of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
As Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. sat on the stool between rounds 9 and 10, the look on his face suggested that he wanted to be anywhere but where he was. Minutes earlier he had been sent to the canvas for the first time in his career by an Andrzej Fonfara left hook in a fight where he was being thoroughly outclassed. The swelling around both of his eyes and blood trickling out of his nose was not nearly as painful as the punishment that his ego had absorbed. Here he was, the son of arguably the greatest Mexican boxer of all time, being beaten up and broken. What would his father think? What would the fans who have only gravitated toward him because of his namesake think of him now?
It was just too much pressure and he wanted out.
The look on trainer Joe Goossen’s face as Chavez urged him to call off the fight was one of both disappointment and shock. Chavez said it was a leg injury, but to those watching it was far more than an injured limb. Sure, Fonfara was naturally the bigger man, but the reason why Chavez was here in the first place was his own fault. Nevertheless, the reality has kicked in that perhaps Chavez Jr. isn’t as good as he’d like everyone to think he is.
Delusional entitlement. That’s the ailment that plagues Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and ended up being his downfall. Not necessarily on April 18, but it has been his downfall his entire career. It was just all spelled out for us against Fonfara.
His sense of entitlement kicked in early as he constantly complained to the ref about what he perceived as Fonfara utilizing dirty tactics (when, in fact, it was Chavez leading with his head) in an effort to make it a 2-on-1 fight. But the reality was that the naturally bigger man’s assortment of punches was ransacking Chavez. It appeared that he was doomed from the moment he realized that his power at middleweight wasn’t carrying over to the 172-pound catch weight. He couldn’t trudge forward, pin Fonfara against the ropes and wail away at his body. His punches had no effect, but the converse was certainly not true as his adversary from Poland whipped him around the ring. Rather than fight, he began looking for a way out by looking to the ref for help.
This wasn’t the same outclassing that Sergio Martinez dealt the Mexican back in 2012. This was worse. Chavez was never hurt in his showdown with Martinez. He simply lost to a faster fighter who boxed efficiently. Chavez took solace in knowing that he nearly won when he dropped Martinez in the final minutes of the fight and nearly finished him off. But against Fonfara, who came into this fight with very little fanfare, Chavez was beaten up from bell to bell. He couldn’t argue that Fonfara ran from him. This was just a one-sided throttling.
The spoiled son of a legend was getting his tail kicked and there was nothing he could do about it.
The delusion has long been a part of Chavez Jr.’s life. He has always thought he was better than what he really was and, as a result, acted like it. His work ethic has always been in question as well as his inability to exude professionalism. He has missed weight, failed drug tests and fought when he clearly was out of shape. His lifestyle is indicative of his performance in the ring. He parties harder than he trains and cruises by on his natural ability. But because he is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., in his mind, he’s supposed to win. All the time.
But the reality is that Chavez Jr. has never been that good. He’s certainly not a bad fighter, but far from the best. To try and compare him to his father does him a disservice and is unfair. However, the problem is when it comes putting his gifts into practice. Chavez has already displayed an iron chin with formidable punching power but those tools need constant refining and the Mexican simply isn’t interested in putting in the work it takes to be at his best. What he lacks is the guts and grit of his father.
There’s a certain desire that Junior lacks and, whether he wants to admit it or not, that’s all a result of his namesake. Furthermore, this is something we should have all seen coming long ago.
His early fights showed a relatively green fighter who earned a few close decisions that might have gone the other way had his name not been Chavez. To be clear, he’s never reached his potential although he did start his career with a 46-0-1 record. The loss to Martinez was what happens when you take on a superior boxer. But the fight against Bryan Vera was the perfect example of what happens when you take someone lightly. Chavez has struggled with the likes of Sebastian Zbik, Marco Antonio Rubio and Matt Vanda. He’s often performed to the level of his competition. But regardless of how he performed between the ropes, he was a draw. He was also a target because of his name, which made his ability to land a fight a non-issue.
With Chavez Jr. moving up in weight to face Fonfara, Chavez probably figured he could beat the relatively unspectacular Polish fighter. But Fonfara was far from a pushover and gave Adonis Stevenson all he could handle last May before losing a unanimous decision. Still, Chavez opted to move up to light heavyweight, where he would have an easier time hitting weight, rather than face Gennady Golovkin at 168 pounds.
The result was poor matchmaking and overconfidence on the part of Team Chavez.
When Chavez Sr. stated on HBO’s “Chavez” special about Fonfara, “He’s a fighter that, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t have taken on,” he knew what his son was in for. He was well aware of his son’s horrid training habits and also realized that it didn’t matter if Chavez Jr. finally took the fight game seriously. After giving away so many precious years of his career, it’s hard to ever get it back. And all of this coupled with the fact that Fonfara was simply a bigger man resulted in Chavez Jr. retiring on the stool before the 10th round.
Questions about his future are sure to come. At 29 years of age with 51 fights under his belt, Chavez is no spring chicken. And judging by the boos and debris that filled up the StubHub Arena, he’s lost a fair share of fans and inherited even more detractors.
The bruises will heal and he’ll be able to walk just fine. But that ego? That has certainly been dealt a mighty blow that only Chavez Jr. knows whether or not he’ll be able to get up from.