COMMENTARY | When Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. returns to the ring this September 7 against Brian Vera at The Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, it will be his first bout since Sergio Martinez derailed his express train to stardom last September 15. And if the second generation star has his way, it'll be his first bout completely out of the shadow of his legendary fighter.
The 27-year-old Hijo del Leyenda (Son of the Legend) has spent ten months fixated on the tangled mess surrounding his first career loss and has come to blame outside factors for his eleven and one-half rounds of stupefied ambivalence that cost him the WBC middleweight title.
"The worst part was that I lost because of what happened outside of the ring," Chavez Jr. told El Universal. "It wasn't a defeat in the ring. I lost outside the ring because of many reasons, like family problems, problems with my team, my life was out of control. That's what hurt the most."
To fix matters, Jr. has focused on the loudest, apparently most distracting part of his professional life--- his father.
"My father will no longer be in my corner," Chavez Jr. said "We've agreed to see each other only once a week, because it is very difficult to keep that type of relationship and be a family at the same time. That's why he will no longer be in my camps with me...He will never stop being my father and we love each other, but this is something that we feel will be a positive thing to move forward in my career. We really want to grow and mature. This will help us."
Aside from the removal of his father from camp, Jr. is taking measures to create even more distance between himself and the figure whose name helped him get on the fast track to titles and boxing stardom. If he has his way, Jr. will be promoted and announced as simply "Julio Chavez." No Cesar and definitely no Jr.
Throughout the years, despite father and son appearing inseparable when cameras are rolling, there has been an underlying tension between the two. This tension came to the surface shortly after the Martinez loss and revealed some real angst in their relationship.
"I saw everything. I saw how my father drank and took drugs every day," Chavez Jr. told Nación ESPN during a televised interview last October. "I always told myself, 'I can't be like my father.' It was hard. It affected me psychologically. People don't understand what the image of being Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has done to me. They say that he has protected me and has given me everything. The only benefit I had is in the name, after that, nothing.
"My father hurt me in a lot of ways when he was drinking and using drugs. He would fight with people, he would act for me and speak for me. He made people think that he was in control of me as a person. I respect my father, he's the best fighter from Mexico and from the world, he's my idol, but he needs to understand that it's my life, my career, and whether I win or lose, train or don't train…they're my decisions."
Chavez, who is expecting his first child in December, has had a lot of growing up to do over the last year or so. From the loss of his title to his nine month suspension for marijuana use to his decision to declare independence from his father--- this time off has the potential to be a real coming of age opportunity.
The question is whether the petulant man-boy who has been handed so much on a silver platter (and is already being positioned to compete for the WBC interim middleweight title should he beat Vera) can grow up to be a responsible professional. The talent has always been there for Chavez, but it remains to be seen whether the kid born into stardom can develop the discipline and maturity needed to be a star on his own.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
Sources: El Universal, Nación ESPN
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