There are certain names in boxing that are associated with greatness. Certain fighters, who whenever they are seen or heard, people give them their full attention. Certain fighters are the pride of their hometown, sometimes their home state, and in few cases their home country. Julio Cesar Chavez is certainly one of those fighters; he is hands down the most celebrated Mexican fighter in the country’s history. He walks into a room and its all eyes on him. Whether you’re from Mexico, United States, or anywhere else in the world, his name is known and very highly respected.
It’s been nearly 7 years since Chavez has stepped away from the ring. Even with a loss in his last fight he isn’t remembered for anything else but being a great champion. To go 89-0-1 to start his career is something unparalleled in boxing. Think about that for a minute, a span of 90 fights without losing. A streak that started 32 years ago on Feb. 5th 1980 and ended Jan. 29th 1994, that’s more than a decade of winning. Over the last 11 years of his career, he went a more humane 18-6-1, but those were some 14 to 25 years in a grueling sport. When it was all said and done, he compiled a record of 107-6-2 with 86KO’s. Sprinkle 6 world titles in 3 weight classes on top of his astonishing record and you have a legend, and with every legend a legacy is formed. Even though a legends successor doesn’t normally stand up to the high standards that were set, there are instances where the legacy is in good hands.
Mexico’s new adopted son is in fact the son of the great Julio Cesar Chavez. Boasting a record of 46-0-1(1 ND) with 32 wins by way of knockout, young Chavez Jr. is well on his way. He’s currently the WBC middleweight champion; he has defended that title 3 times so far. In winning his 1st world title at the age of 25, he’s slightly behind his father who won his first belt at the age of 22. But they both won their 1st title in their 44th fight, so he matches Chavez Sr. there. Over the first 9 years of their careers, Sr. fought 68 fights, and Jr. 48 fights, both being very active. Early in their careers the Chavez’s produced double digit KO streaks, again an impressive feat.
They fight very similar; both are heavy punching, all action fighters. Both are advocates of beating the body like a drum. They both have above average hand speed and pretty good footwork (Jr.’s footwork has drastically improved since teaming up with Freddie Roach). Each have an iron chin and with both Sr. and Jr., if they have you hurt your not getting off the hook, it’s going to be lights out. The only glaring difference between the two being that Jr. is physically a much bigger man.
Jr. was set up to start his career on the right path. He wasn’t put in the ring with any world class opponents until his 24th fight against Carlos Molina, and at that point Molina was fresh into his career and only 8-1 as a pro. They fought to a draw, and then 2 months later Jr. pulled out a majority decision (both were 6 round fights). After Molina, he didn’t fight anyone notable until 4 years later against John Duddy. Between the Duddy and Molina fights the best opponent was Matt Vanda, yes I know, who’s Matt Vanda? Besting Duddy earned Chavez the WBC middleweight silver title, which until beating Zbik for the WBC middleweight belt 2 fights later, was the highlight of his run.
On Sept. 15th of this year, Julio Cesar Chavez’s heir to the throne has the most challenging fight of his career. When the prince of Mexico, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. steps in the ring with Sergio Martinez (49-2-2 28KO’s) the whole boxing world will be watching. Jr. has fought his best competition as of late. Andy Lee, Marco Antonio Rubio, Peter Manfredo Jr, Sebastian Zbik and John Duddy have all been formidable opponents but none are on the level of Martinez. They all have been able to make it a “good” fight but none were the threat that Sergio is. Chavez Jr. is going to enter waters that he is yet to be in. Will it be too much for him and he drowns? Or will he handle it well and swim to shore?
Martinez to Jr. is Hector Camacho to Chavez Sr., meaning that it’s his first time facing true greatness. Like the late Bert Sugar has said, “Your greatness is based off what you do when you rub elbows with greatness.” A win against Martinez proves that Jr. is the real deal. It doesn’t bolster him into an all-time status like his father but it definitely lays the groundwork for a legendary stay in the sport.
Professional sports have had its share of father son combo’s. From Bobby and Barry Bonds to Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr, Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Floyd Jr. to Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. In those cases the father’s were good but not legends in their sport, like Chavez Sr. is. Their son’s surpassed them in the All-Time ranks, but it’s still to be determined if Chavez Jr. will be able to fill his father shoes, to be the most heralded fighter in the history of Mexico.