Life has never been hard – really hard – for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Until it gets difficult, he's probably never going to come close to fulfilling his potential as a boxer.
He grew up wealthy and privileged, the son of the most revered athlete in Mexico's proud history. He was pampered from the time he was wearing Pampers. People made excuses for him, covered for him, eager to spare him the pain of paying for his transgressions.
When he decided to follow in his father's footsteps and become a professional fighter, the pampering shot to another level.
He didn't have his father's skills, but then, few in the history of boxing did. Junior was not without talent; he'd show it in flashes.
But if he didn't want to train, he got the day off. If he didn't feel like running, he slept in. If he couldn't make the weight, he took diuretics to help him.
He was matched as easily as possible, regularly fed a collection of hapless opponents.
He earned plenty of money for beating up on boxing's lesser lights until, suddenly, shockingly, he found himself nearing the top of his profession.
Almost in spite of himself, though, Chavez Jr. emerged as a contender. That gene pool was too good, too rich with boxing skills, for even a lazy, indifferent rich kid to screw up.
When he somewhat improbably scored impressive victories over Marco Antonio Rubio and Andy Lee to land a high-profile pay-per-view bout against the great Sergio Martinez last year, the thinking was that he'd finally seen the error of his ways and would prepare for the bout the way real fighters do.
We now know, though, that this was wrong. In the weeks leading up to the biggest fight of his life, before a bout in which a win would have made him one of the sport's three or four biggest draws and earned him acclaim around the world, he routinely did his training in a living room.
He ended up losing a fight he could have won. Martinez is a consummate professional, and he pushed himself in training. He worked to improve, with nothing too small to skip fixing. When he stepped into the ring to meet Chavez last September, he was as fit as he'd ever been and tortured himself in an attempt to make the fight easier.
By contrast, Chavez rented a Las Vegas mansion, where he relaxed by the pool, living the life of a champion, leaving his Hall of Fame trainer by himself in the gym in an industrial park on the other side of town.
The consequence of doing that, of course, is that Chavez not only got routed, but Freddie Roach decided he'd had enough.
So now, the son has reached out to his father to train him.
When Chavez Jr. fights Brian Vera in a catchweight bout in Los Angeles on Sept. 7, his legendary father will work his corner.
Father and son teams have had mixed success in boxing, and this pairing only has a chance if Junior has finally decided it's time to act like an adult and approach his job the right way.
Chavez Sr. is one of the 20 or 25 greatest fighters who ever lived, but he's not Roach. If Junior were ever to put it all together, it would have been with Roach showing him the way.
Roach had agreed to train Chavez on the condition that Chavez agreed to work and do whatever he asked. It speaks volumes that Chavez Jr. didn't say yes. It's not out of the question that Roach will work with him some during camp, but Chavez Sr., forever El Gran Campeon to millions of fight fans, will be the primary trainer.
On the surface, that's not good. But in this case, father might be able to reach son in a way that Roach, or no other trainer, ever could.
Even though Chavez Jr. is now 27 and a wealthy man in his own right, Chavez Sr. is an all-encompassing figure. He might be the guy who forces the son to run an extra mile, to spar an extra round, to pay attention to his technique and stay true to his diet.
Of course, it's also possible that Senior will get fed up, just as has happened to so many others who have worked with Junior.
The only way this really works is if Junior wants it to, if the loss to Martinez showed him what might have been with just a bit of effort.
Bruce Trampler, Top Rank's Hall of Fame matchmaker, was extremely confident that Chavez was a more skilled fighter than Martinez and, as he said Monday, would "win based on skills."
But Trampler said Chavez didn't want to fight and was sending subtle messages conveying that.
"He's a happy-go-lucky, goofy kid, and he was telling us something," Trampler said. "We just didn't hear it. He was saying, 'I don't want to fight,' but nobody really heard that."
He meets Vera in a fight he should win, but could lose if he's indifferent in camp and spends more time by the pool than in the ring.
He'll get plenty of chances even if he blows this one because of his famous last name and because talent is clearly there.
If his father can impart some of the desire, dedication and pride that marked his legendary career, then this story might turn out to have a happy ending after all.
Just don't be shocked if it doesn't, though.
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