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Chavez Junior: Canelo never hurt me. I want the rematch

Julio Cesar Chavez Junior
Harry How/Getty Images
As Julio Cesar Chavez Junior returns on another bizarre card that also features his famed 58-year-old father, he tells John Dennen what inspired him to start fighting

JULIO Cesar Chavez Jnr wants another shot. Four years ago he fought Canelo Alvarez in an anticipated bout that fizzled into a tepid 12 rounds. He flamed out against Daniel Jacobs in 2019, retiring himself on his stool but training at altitude in Mexico he has set his sights on another fight with Canelo.

First he has a novel contest to attend to on Saturday (June 19) in Guadalajara, against Anderson Silva, the former star of the UFC who’s now 46. “Anderson Silva, he knows boxing, he’s boxed a couple of times and he’s a legend in the UFC. So it’s very interesting because it’s an eight-round fight and 180lbs. That’s better for him, and that makes that fight more equal,” Chavez insisted. “He’s an old guy, he’s an MMA fighter. But you don’t know. Anderson Silva is bigger than me. He’s boxed in the past. So that makes the fight more interesting I think it’s a good fight and I’m ready.”

A bout with an MMA fighter is an unlikely route back to the best fighter in the sport today. But Chavez Junior has a vision. “If I win that fight with Anderson Silva, I’m ready for the rematch with Canelo. At 175lbs. No more excuses in the contract. Boxing is boxing,” he declared. “If people want to see the fight, why don’t you do the fight? That’s boxing.

“That fight was a very important fight for Mexico but like I said before I think it needs a second fight. The people want to see a second fight. It’s not me.”

“I think the rematch will be better because Canelo, now he’s fought at 175lbs. So every time I asked to fight him at 175lbs because I think it’s the best for the public, for the fight and for the action. Because the first fight I loved the atmosphere, the Mexican people enjoyed it, everyone is happy to see the fight. I think both fighters can do better. More action. I think the rematch will be better.”

He blames having to make 164lbs for his performance in the 2017 bout with Alvarez. “I was disappointed because I know I lost a lot of weight,” Junior lamented. “I think I did a good fight because I stayed all 12 rounds on my feet and tried to win the fight. But with all the weight I lost, it’s dangerous for me. I’m very disappointed. Why? Because I know that I can beat him, 100 per cent That’s made me feel bad because he didn’t knock me out. Only threw more punches because when you have more water in your head, your body, your reflexes are still faster, you can take better punches. So that is the advantage of Canelo in this fight.

“He never hurt me. So that’s the point. In this situation, he needed to knock me out because I didn’t have too much. I don’t know why he didn’t do more. I did my best in the situation but he could do more, he could have been more aggressive.”

Chavez received intense criticism after such a high profile flop. “After that fight I tried to retire from boxing, no training, I was disappointed with myself,” he said. “But the people were still asking me when is the rematch, when do you fight Canelo? Canelo needs to fight you because you have the perfect style for beating him. So I’m here.”

He is training at altitude in Mexico alongside his brother Omar, who’ll box Ramon Alvarez, Canelo’s brother on the same June 19 card, and their legendary father. Julio Cesar Chavez at the advanced age of 58 is performing an exhibition with Hector Camacho Junior. These kind of exhibitions, even though they’re not real fights, are still a concern for boxers who should be long retired. It’s why Junior is training with his father, keeping a watchful eye on him so he doesn’t overdo it. “I’m worried he trains like a young guy. I say, ‘Dad, 42 years in boxing, you don’t need to train for an exhibition, you need to enjoy [life]’,” Chavez Jnr said. “It’s dangerous for him but he likes it. It’s why I stay in the same camp as him, I try to take care of some things. Say stop, no more. Because you know who he is. He’s the best.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr
Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

“I feel very proud to see my dad still in the ring, still healthy. A lot of older fighters, you see without money or have a problem in their health. My father is good. He loves boxing. More than me. He trains harder than me.”

Following in the footsteps of such a famous father has been a burden. Originally Junior’s interest was in other sports. But seeing his father lose to Oscar De La Hoya in 1996 inspired him to take up boxing training to get revenge. “My father was a legend in all the world, and in Mexico everyone knew him. So when I’m young I liked soccer or baseball,” he said. “Why [would] you want to do boxing, you’re the son of the best? So I like soccer,
I like baseball. The first time I was interested in boxing was his loss to Oscar De La Hoya. I said I want to beat De La Hoya, so I’m going to start training for this fight.

“This is why I’m a fighter.”

“I’m realistic. I know who my dad is. He’s the best. I feel pressure all my career,” he added. “Nobody likes to be punched. Why do I like to be punched like him? It’s a great sport and a great discipline. So I’m happy.

“I feel good. I feel great, to have a father like that. The pressure that I have in my career does make me struggle. So I’m still motivated.”

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