In what was a promotion
seemingly plagued by one snafu after another, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s initial WBC
middleweight title defense versus Ronald Hearns in Culiacan, Mexico on
September 17th has been postponed. The story is that Chavez injured
his right hand as he caught it on a ceiling fan while stretching out a few
For those who are cynical (which
by now, I'm sure are all of you ), you have to at least give them some credit.
This is a lot more original than the run-of-the-mill “back injury.”
"It seems a little bit
preposterous to me," said Hearns' promoter, Lou DiBella, who wasn't buying
it. "I have to say that the picture was sort of fuzzy, like it could've
been anything and it sort of looked like a guy who nicked himself shaving and
then hearing that he was training with [Antonio] Margarito a day or two ago and
the weirdness of the release of his weight on the 30-day weigh-in and the fact
it took a long time for the weight to come out and then all the rumors out of
Mexico that he was very, very heavy- it's sort of hard to believe.
"So to be honest, I'm not buying it. Particularly since minor injuries
seem to be a habit with young Mr. Chavez."
As this fight was announced,
there was an internal tug-of-war between Top Rank and Zanfer Promotions, which
co-promote the son of the legendary “JC Superstar.” While Bob Arum made it
clear from the onset that he wasn't for this tune-up fight, especially in light
of having an HBO date for November 19th in his back pocket, Fernando
Beltran seemed to have other ideas. Throughout this whole ordeal, never once
did it seem like that the two promotional companies or Chavez's management, led
by Billy Keane, were ever on the same page.
The road to Culiacan was
really the road to perdition.
"It's hard to
say," said Alex Ariza, Chavez’s strength and conditioning coach, on Friday
afternoon at the Wild Card Boxing Club. "I mean, I don't know much about
the promotional side. All I know is that my guy always gets the short end of
the stick when it comes to getting the time to train and prepare for a fight.
Here we are getting five weeks to prepare for this first title defense and the
whole time, you get one side saying, 'Yes, there is a fight,' and the other
side saying, 'Absolutely not; there is none,' and I mean, I dunno. It just
seems like one of those consistent things with Zanfer Promotions, they don't
know what one hand is doing from the other."
DiBella stated, "Honestly,
this was easy to see coming but Ronald Hearns really got victimized. He was
training. He looked at this as the opportunity of a lifetime and he went to
Mexico for the press conference and then he finds out that this happens and I
don't think he's really buying it either."
Of course, some believe that
Hearns- who just recently got stopped by Felix Sturm in an attempt for the WBA
middleweight title- didn't even deserve this shot but the bottom line is, he
got the fight, signed his name on the dotted line and was willing and able to
fulfill his commitment. Too many times in the past, Chavez has been allowed to
skirt such responsibilities. After all, he's the son of Chavez, the straw that
stirs the drink, boxing's version of a trust fund baby, where rules don't
necessarily apply. While he will always retain a sizable fan base, there is
growing skepticism of his reliability and professionalism.
"It's hard to say. This
is the thing; Julio will fight up to the level of his competition,"
explained Keane to Maxboxing. "So he from the start did not really respect
Ronald Hearns. He didn't think he was in the same league as him and did not
train as hard, as for instance when he fought Sebastian Zbik, who we thought
was going to be a very competitive, hard fight. So I mean, the key for Julio is
to keep him motivated and keep him in competitive fights."
Perhaps all those years of
coddling from his handlers and the adroit matchmaking of Top Rank have given
Chavez Jr. a false sense of security. It's not like he was brought up in a way
that Marvin Hagler would be familiar with and more than once, as he came in
over the contracted weights, things were done to take care of the situation.
That's what happens when you're a cash cow- you get enabled over and over
If Chavez had any real
intention of fighting on this date, why was he not at the Wild Card Boxing Club
last month? Even boxers who go through the motions have to train, right? Keane
says, "A lot of people think his unwillingness to come to L.A. shows some
kind of laziness or lack of commitment. The reality is, Julio doesn't simply
like to be away from home. He's a homebody. He doesn't like to travel. He likes
to be with his girlfriend at home. It's his comfort zone. So it's not that he's
really a prima donna or unwilling to travel. It's just really that he's
comfortable at home."
It must be noted that plenty of fighters come
to train with Roach from far away locales, such as WBA welterweight titlist
Vyacheslav Senchenko, who spent the better part of the summer in Southern
California to train at the Wild Card, away from his homeland of Ukraine.
Keane insists that the
reports of Chavez looking like a bloated torta are greatly exaggerated.
"He was low 170's. The weight was fine," he said. "All this nonsense
from Lou that he faked an injury, that he was 185, is just ridiculous."
Ariza, who was scheduled to go to Mexico to meet Chavez this weekend, added, "He
wasn't in bad condition. I know people are making it out to seem that he was.
When I got there, he was roughly around 180 pounds. By week’s end, he was
already down to 173. Like everybody knows, those first ten pounds are going to
come off easy but with four weeks, it's very, very doable. It wasn't something
that was impossible, that we were going to kill ourselves or any of those
Arum gets what he wanted all
"Well, from the get-go,
I said I didn't want anything to do with it," he said. "We have
Freddie in the Ukraine and then he's coming back, where he's going to be on
this [press tour] with us and I'm going on the tour and then we gotta get ready
for the Cotto-Margarito tour and I got this event at Notre Dame (September 16th).
I didn't have time for an event on September 17th. So the kid said
he wanted to do it anyway. So Fernando Beltran said he would facilitate it and
the government was supposed to put up the money. I wasn't around because I had
other commitments. Alex Ariza wasn't around because he had other commitments
and he couldn't spend the time in Mexico.
"So y' know, it was the kid being stubborn and then the kid got hurt
apparently. I didn't know anything about it and still he wanted to push through
and finally didn't. So my recommendation to him is that when Freddie goes to
the Philippines, [Chavez] goes over with Freddie with his sparring partners and
gets ready for November 19th."
Getting this guy to go over
to “Pacland”? Yeah, good luck with that.