Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. already was familiar with the label that he lacked motivation tagged on him before his recent fight.
A series of incidents away from the ring, as well as subpar performances inside the ropes, have placed the son of the legendary Mexican champion at a career crossroads.
Once targeted for stardom, Chavez is on the verge of falling into “opponent” status if he doesn’t make lasting impressions, and soon. Chavez will have another opportunity to turn doubters into believers Saturday night in El Paso, Texas.
Exactly three months after a ninth-round TKO loss against Andrzej Fonfara, Chavez (48-2-1, 32 KOs) will face Marcos Reyes (33-2, 24 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round super-middleweight bout at the Don Haskins Center.
“I feel like I need to have a dominant performance to show my fans what I am capable of,” Chavez said.
Chavez was far from dominant against Fonfara. In his first bout after a 13-month absence, Chavez could not maintain pace or change the fight’s tide against the busier Fonfara. The performance further gave ammunition to skeptics that Chavez, 29, lacks a passion for fight preparation and only was elevated to title contention thanks to his bloodline.
“I learned a lot in my fight against Fonfara,” Chavez said. “I really felt his punches. I became very tired. He taught me that I needed to spend more time in the gym and on my strategy. But I don’t think it was the wrong decision to fight him.”
Lauded for his dramatic 12th-round comeback and near win against former middleweight champion Sergio Martinez in 2012, Chavez followed up the unsuccessful title challenge with a disputed decision win over Brian Vera the following year. Chavez again dealt with the accusations that he overlooked Vera and was the beneficiary of a “gift decision.”
In a rematch with Vera, Chavez won a convincing decision, but it also occurred during the start of his eventual breakup with former promoter Bob Arum. The promotional conflict resulted in the lengthy absence which ended with Chavez’s bout against Fonfara.
“I missed the basics of boxing training for the last fight,” said Chavez, who is now represented by manager Al Haymon. “Since I had such a long layoff, I needed to get back to the basics, and I never did.”
Chavez’s attempt to jump-start his career prompted him to hire Robert Garcia as his new trainer. Fighters under Garcia’s tutelage have included his brother and two-division world champion Mikey Garcia, five-division titleholder Nonito Donaire and Brandon Rios.
“I think Robert Garcia was the best option for me after my last fight,” Chavez said. “He speaks Spanish and knows the Mexican style. He has trained a lot of champions, and I have a good connection with him.
AROUND THE RING
▪ Keith Thurman retained his World Boxing Association welterweight title with an eighth-round technical knockout over Luis Collazo on Saturday in Tampa. Plagued by a cut above his right eye, Collazo (36-7) could not continue after the seventh round. Thurman, of nearby Clearwater, is now 26-0 with 22 knockouts.
▪ Telemundo will begin its summer season of bouts Friday night in Kissimmee. Puerto Rico’s Daniel Rosario Cruz and Chicago’s Aaron Garcia will fight for a regional junior-middleweight title. The Spanish-language network is in its 25th year of live boxing telecasts. The summer season will run an additional three weeks before the network resumes boxing coverage with four Friday night telecasts in the fall.
▪ Laila Ali, Ann Wolfe and Deirdre Gogary were among the fighters inducted into the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame Saturday night in Fort Lauderdale. Ali won all 24 of her professional fights in an eight-year career that ended in 2007.
Friday (10 p.m., Showtime): Antoine Douglas vs. Istvan Szili, 10, middleweights.
Friday (11:30 p.m., Telemundo-Ch. 51): Daniel Cruz vs. Aaron Garcia, 10, junior middleweights.
Saturday (4 p.m., CBS-Ch. 4): Carl Frampton vs. Alejandro Gonzalez, 12, for Frampton’s IBF junior-featherweight title.
Saturday (10 p.m., Showtime): Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Marcos Reyes, 10, super middleweights.
Saturday (11 p.m., Unimas-Ch. 69): Ik Yang vs. Cesar Cuenca, 12, for the vacant IBF junior-welterweight title; Nonito Donaire vs. Anthony Settoul, 10, junior featherweights.