LAS VEGAS – The Top Rank Gym is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s nominal training base. Most nights, though, the WBC middleweight champion isn’t anywhere near the venerable facility.
His fight with Sergio Martinez is only days away and, as portrayed on HBO's "24/7: Chavez-Martinez," Chavez is a no-show as often than not.
But three people closest to the champion insist it's not stage fright or anything to be concerned about. Chavez is doing the bulk of his work in the wee hours at a rented home in an upscale portion of this gambling town, eschewing the traditional training methods.
"I'm a traditionalist and I think he'd be better off at the gym and in the ring, but when he finally does work, he works very hard," Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach said. "I have no concerns about that."
Two other Hall of Famers who are close to Chavez, matchmaker Bruce Trampler and promoter Bob Arum, concur. He's doing what needs to be done, they insist, even if he's doing it at strange hours.
Trampler has paid close attention to Chavez's training regimen. It was Trampler who recognized the potential in the son of the legendary Mexican champion, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., and who battled to keep the son in the gym and working hard.
He said that despite appearances, Chavez is right where he needs to be as the biggest fight of his career looms.
"He's very serious, albeit unorthodox," Trampler said.
Chavez has had issues with his weight in the past and the always plain-spoken Roach concedes it might happen again this time. He said Chavez weighed 172 on Monday and that he would make the 160-pound middleweight limit at Friday afternoon's weigh-in.
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He admitted, though, that it wouldn't be easy and without some stress.
"Let's be honest: He's a big kid and it's very hard for him to make 160," Roach said. "It's no snap. I think he will make it, but it's going to be a fight to get there."
Roach said he expects Chavez to weigh around 180 pounds when the bell sounds Saturday to start the fight after he rehydrates following the weigh-in.
It's a lot of weight to add, but nobody in Chavez's brain trust seems all that concerned. He's working extraordinarily hard, all three men said, in a massive home in an upscale area of Las Vegas. The home, Trampler said, is so large one could "punt a football and not hit the ceiling."
As a result, he's staying in his comfort zone while avoiding fans and media and anything else that might serve as a distraction. He's extremely confident, Roach said, and is as prepared as he's ever been.
"Confidence most certainly is not an issue for Julio," Roach said. "If anything, he might be a little overconfident. He understands what he's up against and he knows what he needs to do.
"He works his [expletive] off and he's better in pretty much every area since I first saw him. You don't improve like he has if you don't work. He's punching really good now and he's a lot more fluid in what he does. I haven't seen anything that concerns me. He's where I want him to be."
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He's certainly done his part in selling the show. He's a huge name mainly because of his father, perhaps the most revered Mexican athlete ever. The son had a following from his first day as a pro because of his famous name, but he's increased it as he has become perceived as a more legitimate fighter.
Arum said the show is within 200 tickets of being a complete sellout. He said he expects more than 18,000 paid and more than 19,000 in the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday.
It will all be to see a guy who Arum notes most boxing writers saw as little more than a novelty up to about a year or so ago.
"What he's doing is working because look at how far he's come," Arum said. "All of the writers were saying we were wasting our time with him and so forth, that he wouldn't amount to anything. But Bruce believed in him and we stayed behind him and, sure enough, slowly but surely, you saw Julio start to blossom.
"Everybody I've talked to has told me the kid is in unbelievable shape and that he's been beating the [expletive] out of his sparring partners. He may not be one of those guys who hangs around the gym all day, but obviously, he's doing the work."
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