Photo Credit: Chris Farina
Despite the lack of an amateur career and the scrutiny that comes with being the son of a legendary boxer, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. chose to follow his father's footsteps to make a name of his own. That alone should have been clues to that he was serious about his new craft.
Sure, he has not fought the best of opponent, but let's remember he never had an amateur career. Can we really count a couple of exhibition bouts with Jorge Paez Jr. that were shown on Mexican TV a credible amateur experience?
He needed some time to learn the intricacies of boxing. Sure, he has good physical attributes and had the pleasure of learning the sport by watching his father fight and train, but those can only get you so far. Boxing is also about instinct; knowing when to throw the right punch at the right time; when to pace yourself or go fo the kill, and you can't learn those until you actually enter the ring and fight.
His father knows boxing better than most people, so he is making sure that his son is guided the right way. Heck even Chavez Sr.'s record were full of 'bums' in the beginning of his career. It's been a slow process, but no doubt, Chavez Jr. is slowly carving a name for himself in the sports of boxing.
Remember when the same criticisms were thrown at Andre Ward? There was a time when many boxing fans and analysts kept on criticizing Andre Ward for his slow rise to the top of the boxing world. While Olympic teammates such as Vicente Escobedo, Andre Dirrell as well as his peers such as Amir Khan, Abner Mares, Jorge Linares, Andre Berto and Roberto Guerrero were rapidly making a name of for themselves, Ward was still toiling around fighting C to B fighters.
It might have been overlooked by fans and analysts, but Ward's team wanted to slowly polish his skills and ring generalship by pitting him against fighters of different styles. Instead of being tempted to rush him to a title fight, they made sure he had all the intangibles and not just talent. Sometimes a quick rise to the top without all the tools can lead to a rapid fall to the bottom as well. Can you say David Reid?
It's the same thing for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and similar to Ward's experience, the careful management of his career has made a huge difference as we can see from the vast improvement in his skills in comparison to the beginning of his career. In fact, we should be more patient of Chavez Jr., because he never had the 'All World' amateur background of Andre Ward.
Even Canelo Alvarez, who is the fighter that is often mentioned when criticizing Chavez Jr. started boxing at the age of 13 and even once held the title of Junior Mexican National Champion. But if you compare their careers as well as their level opponents, there is really not much difference.
In fact, its pretty impressive that just after 48 fights, he already has solid wins against Lee, Rubio, Zbik and Duddy. I mean how many boxers have we seen with no amateur background reach the level of success that Jr. has achieved. We see often see athletes from different sports try boxing only to find limited success. Even Sergio Martinez, who only had a brief amateur career took a long time before reaching his potential as a boxer.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. may never equal his father as a fighter, but there is no doubt that he has already surpassed many people's expectations. It might seem to be on a snail pace, but he is proving his critics wrong and now it is no longer a far-fetched idea to see him as a future pound for pound fighter in the sport.
His tenacity and ability to take a punch in combination with an improving skill set will definitely provide a credible challenge in the division. And now that he is set to fight Sergio Martinez on September 15 in Las Vegas, his critics can no longer accuse him of ducking any fighters. So call him all hype or overrated, but definitely Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is on the right path and right on schedule.