By Derek Bonnett: "I feel like I have never seen him look good," my wife said of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., following my verbal update of the outcome this morning after fight night. I watched the live action via pay-per-view thanks to a friend who hosted a Cinco de Mayo weekend celebration replete with margaritas, sangria, cervezas, and plenty of Mexican comida.
Of course, there was the boxing; however, watching Saul "Canelo" Alvarez jab and right hand Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for twelve rounds never felt very Mexican. There was no pressure back, no meaningful grit, and no insurmountable will. One hombre demonstrated superb boxing skills and the other showed he can take a beating. Both exhibitions were only further evidence to conclusions boxing fans already knew. Thus, the main event was a complete dud as none of three judges could manage to conjure of a sympathy round for the son of the premiere Mexican icon. That in itself was gratifying, at least, as fans were not force fed manufactured scores devised to create the impression that the evening’s sparring session was something other than just that.
Going back to my wife’s post-fight commentary. My feelings were, yeah, you’re right. Then I recalled the Andy Lee fight at middleweight which was nearly five years ago. That was the last time the Mexican boxer looked like a fighter worth the time and money of boxing’s elite class. Chavez Jr., now 31, has gone 4-3 since stopping Lee and has only since displayed world class pedigree for a mere thirty seconds in the closing moments of his loss to Sergio Martinez.
In so many words, the elder Chavez, one of boxing’s biggest names in the nineties, a hall of famer, and all-time great, and, arguably, Mexico’s greatest boxer ever, told viewers that the fight with Canelo was his son’s chance to finally show he possesses his father’s genetics and balls. Such words should probably never be uttered about one’s offspring to the masses, but these sentiments did nothing to motivate the legacy to mirror the same ilk as the Lion of Culiacan. Yet, he walked away with three million dollars for his thirty-six minutes of ring presence. Clearly the hardest work was done in the gym to beat the scales more so than Canelo. Chavez Jr. landed 71 of 302 punches thrown.
The HBO team’s Jim Lampley and Roy Jones Jr. prognosticated that Junior’s defeat would be nearly impossible to come back from. Jones further clarified that he would be shocked to see Julio the second in the ring again. Even Oscar De La Hoya’s remorse over Chavez’ non-performance was clear, stating that only one fighter showed up and that Chavez did not come prepared for "a beautiful waltz up in the ring." Oscar offered a guarantee that his next major promotion on September 16 matching Alvarez with Gennady Golovkin be one in which both dance partners show up. It would be hard to imagine the vanquished Chavez finding a place on the undercard.
Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. congratulated Canelo immediately after the performance. His post-fight comments to his own son were less obvious, but looked far from soothing. Kellerman’s post-fight interview with the defeated fighter also presented a bit of scorn. Chavez Jr.’s responses were concise and composed. He wanted out of the ring at last and, now, he had three million new reasons to not fight again. Retirement is a likely option for Chavez, but there are other scenarios easy to imagine. A long layoff, a comeback victory over an obscure opponent, and a title shot at super middleweight titlist Gilberto Ramirez is not impossible to imagine although difficult to fathom. It’s amazing what a little name recognition and a manufactured verbal feud can fuel. Even minus the title shot, Junior could fight on and win several bouts in no-man’s land before his eventual retirement transpires.
The only certainty for the Spoiled Cub from Culiacan is further hisses and boos. The expectations for Junior were always too high and the post-fight evaluation were probably a little harsh and at times unfair, but he continued to fight and never really endeared himself to the fans. His mediocre outings, complaints, and outright denials built a Trump-like wall between him and boxing fans. In the end, it would be the fans who paid for this wall as Chavez continued to receive opportunity and thrive financially with very little offered up in return.