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Former WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has signed with manager Al Haymon, and told Yahoo Sports he is eager to resume his boxing career. That statement may set up a heavyweight legal battle between Top Rank chairman Bob Arum on one side, and Haymon and Chavez on the other.
Arum and Haymon are two of the most powerful figures in boxing, if not the top two, and Chavez has been for several years one of the game's biggest drawing cards.
Given that Top Rank filed suit against Chavez last month in U.S. District Court in Nevada, it seems optimistic to believe he'll be in the ring any time soon.
Top Rank alleged in its case that Chavez owes the Las Vegas-based promotional company one more bout. Billy Keane, Chavez's long-time manager, told Yahoo Sports on Monday that Chavez's position is that he's a free agent. Keane said Chavez's statement, which Chavez gave exclusively to Yahoo Sports, "stands for itself" and declined to elaborate.
Chavez, one of the sport's most popular fighters, last fought on March 1 in San Antonio, when he defeated Bryan Vera. He won a controversial decision against Vera in Carson, Calif. on Sept. 28, 2013, his only fight of 2013.
Top Rank attempted to make fights for Chavez earlier this year against WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and WBA/IBF super middleweight champion Carl Froch, but couldn't reach a deal with Chavez.
In full, Chavez's statement reads:
I want to give all my fans an update on my boxing future.
I had a great meeting on Friday with my team: My lawyer Howard Weitzman, my manager Al Haymon and Billy Keane.
They have begun the process of setting up my next fight, which will occur in early 2015.
We are looking at a number of top opponents because I only want to fight the best moving forward. The details of my next fight will be finalized in the very near future. So stay tuned.
I want to thank all my fans for their support and I can't wait to get back to fighting. You’ll be seeing a lot of me in the ring in 2015.
Arum didn't seem bothered by Chavez's statement.
"We want the court to declare that we have one more fight with [Chavez]," Arum told Yahoo Sports. "In other words, we're in court as it is now. Now we're going to bring action against Haymon and so forth for interfering with our contract."
Arum referred all other questions to attorneys Dan Petrocelli and David Marrosso. Marrosso told Yahoo Sports that he is traveling and suggested speaking to Petrocelli. Petrocelli couldn't be reached for comment.