It all began for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. more than a decade ago in a gym created from an old aluminum hangar in a community known as Mira Loma.
Early on there was a purpose and dedication to working on his boxing skills with his younger brother Omar Chavez at the faraway gym in a town that used to be called Wineville, Calif.
Chavez didn’t look like much but he was purposeful in his training.
That was 11 years ago and now Chavez (43-0-1, 30 KOs), the son of Julio Cesar Chavez, makes his first WBC middleweight world title defense on Saturday Nov. 19, against Peter Manfredo Jr. (37-6. 20 KOs). Their bout will be shown live on HBO from the Reliant Arena in Houston, Texas.
Very few people know the pressure and torment Chavez undergoes especially because his father is considered by many – especially Mexican boxing fans – to be the greatest boxer in Mexican history.
Think of it.
Every time Chavez enters the ring there are millions who remember the great battles his father endured with the likes of Edwin Rosario, Meldrick Taylor, Pernell Whitaker, Greg Haugen and Roger Mayweather. Despite more than 40 wins, the son lags behind in his father’s footsteps.
Winning the middleweight world title last June was a great step forward for Chavez, but a greater step is making that first world title defense.
“This is my biggest fight because Manfredo has fought so many quality fighters. I know how difficult this will be,” said Chavez.
Manfredo has been toiling in the slow lane despite a great showing in the Contender television reality series back in 2005. Though many recognize the Rhode Island product as a blue collar kind of fighter, he’s yet to crack that upper tier where world champions dwell.
“This is it for me. I always fight for my family. I know I can beat Chavez but if I do not I will never fight again,” claimed Manfredo.
Those are very bold statements to make.
Both are strong fighters with Chavez seemingly having the edge. Chavez is strong though he lacks one-punch power or blistering speed, and he seems to have mental and physical strength especially in the trenches.
Chavez always bets that his left hooks to the body are better than his opponents. Working with Freddie Roach has also upped his boxing game.
Manfredo can box or brawl if needed. Former opponents like Sergio Mora contend that the Providence prizefighter has exceptional boxing skills but reverts to a pressure fighting.
“I had a lot of problems with him when he boxed,” said Mora. “Manfredo’s a real good boxer.”
Their middleweight clash on Saturday will mark an important step for the winner, or a steep cliff for the loser. In Mira Loma, a set of cliffs and hills are visible from the old gym that Chavez first trained as a youth.