Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. returns Friday to the same venue in Arizona where his father’s remarkable career came to a close in 2005 with a loss.
Although the son avenged the defeat to the unheralded Grover Wiley two years later, Chavez Jr.’s own career never really took off.
After a 27-month hiatus, Chavez Jr. (51-3-1, 33 KOs) returned this summer for a tune-up fight in Mexico, and now, he’s officially back to resurrect a career that never lived up to his father’s legacy. He faces Daniel Jacobs (35-3. 29 KOs) at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix on DAZN.
Chavez Jr. has reunited with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach for a potential renaissance, but the baggage still remains.
Chavez Jr. weighed 172.7 pounds Thursday when he was contracted to fight as a 168-pound super middleweight. Jacobs, who’s making his debut in the division, was 167.9 pounds. The show, in front of a near-10,000 fans, will go on because Chavez Jr. agreed to hand over a portion of his purse to Jacobs, and a new weight limit of 173 pounds was agreed upon. A rehydration clause is not in place for Friday.
The fact that the second-generation star made it to the scales to challenge the “Miracle Man” was a miracle itself. The enigmatic yet still popular 33-year-old fighter was embroiled in controversy for the last two months after failing to comply with an ordered drug test as contracted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency.
The fight was originally set to take place at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, but Chavez Jr. was suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission for his test infraction. Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing then switched states to Arizona to save the show. On Tuesday, a Nevada judge granted Chavez Jr. an injunction, allowing the match to resume.
Barring anything unexpected, Chavez Jr. will finally step into the ring for his first meaningful fight since losing to Canelo Alvarez in a one-sided affair in 2017. Jacobs was last in the ring with Alvarez in May, losing a competitive unanimous decision.
Canelo Alvarez lands a right against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. during their fight in Las Vegas.(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. lands a left to the face of Canelo Alvarez.(Al Bello / Getty Images)
Canelo Alvarez uses his left jab against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.(Isaac Brekken / Associated Press)
Canelo Alvarez covers his head as Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. uses his left jab.(Al Bello / Getty Images)
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. covers up as Canelo Alvarez goes on the offensive.(Al Bello / Getty Images)
Canelo Alvarez lands a right hook to the body of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.(John Locher / Associated Press)
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. goes on the offensive as Canelo Alvarez tries to cover up.(Al Bello / Getty Images)
Canelo Alvarez tries to evade an overhand right from Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.(John Locher / AP)
Canelo Alvarez, left, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. trade punches in the middle of the ring.(Al Bello / Getty Images)
Canelo Alvarez lands a big left hook to the body of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.(Al Bello / Getty Images)
Canelo Alvarez celebrates his win over a battered Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.(John Locher / Associated Press)
Canelo Alvarez celebrates with his team after defeating Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. by unanimous decision.(John Locher / Associated Press)
Canelo Alvarez is framed by Mexico’s flag after defeating countrymen Junior Cesar Chavez Jr. in a 164 1/2-pound non-title fight.(John Locher / Associated Press)
“No more time to play,” Chavez Jr. said while training at Wild Card gym in Los Angeles before the turmoil kicked into second gear. “I want to be the best. That’s why I’m still in boxing. … This is the right fight to get me back to the top.”
Chavez Jr., who’ll make millions for fighting Jacobs, came to Roach with a “big bag of money,” the trainer said, to form a reunion in October, but Roach was interested more in seeing a better work ethic and a commitment to conditioning rather than money.
Chavez Jr. and Roach infamously had a falling out in 2012 when the trainer said his pupil missed 31 days in camp for his fight against Sergio Martinez, much of which was documented on HBO. Roach said Chavez Jr. trained just fives times in that camp in what ended up being a wide decision loss.
This time around, things were different, according to Roach.
“We had a very good camp. He’s in great shape. He’s working hard. He’s been very consistent,” Roach said Monday before the scales expressed another story. “I’m happy with him, and he’s ready to go. … Since he’s been back, he’s been the same guy doing what I say every day. I told him if [he skips training], I’m gone, and that’s as simple as that was. He listens very well, and his dad wants me there.”
Roach, who once trained Jacobs as well, said the key to victory will be Chavez Jr. letting his hands go and throwing combinations to walk down Jacobs and knock him out. Roach said if Chavez Jr. gets tired, he will lose.
“If you want for me to be completely honest, this fight is not going to be the biggest challenge I’ve had in my career,” said a confident Jacobs.
Chavez Jr. knows he’s running out of chances.
“I was distracting my career for the last three to four years doing stupid things,” he said. “That created a lot of problems. Now that I’m older, I know what I want, and that’s the most important thing.”