When former two-division world champion Canelo Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KOs) meet this Saturday in Las Vegas, it will be for a lot more than an uptick to their respective records.
For Chavez, Jr., it is about forging a legacy past his father’s and regaining some of the respect on his name that was lost with failed drug tests and missing weight for past bouts. In short, Chavez, Jr. has always had his professionalism called into question. And when your father is considered the greatest Mexican fighter ever, those are huge shoes that may never be filled.
“I've lived many big moments in my life, and this is probably one of the biggest moments and fights in my life,” said the elder Chavez, Sr. at the final press conference. “It's a big fight for Mexico, but I believe this a fight that can be won; anything can be done in the ring."
For Chavez, Sr., it is also an opportunity to avenge his two losses to Oscar De La Hoya, President and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, who is promoting the fight. De La Hoya stopped Chavez in the 4th round in 1996 taking his WBC and lineal light welterweight titles. Then Chavez lost again in 1998 in the 8th round for De La Hoya’s WBC and lineal welterweight titles. To say this is not a point of contention would be a misnomer, as Chavez is known to have a huge ego and takes his 107-6-2 legacy in boxing very seriously.
Both of those meetings were also in Las Vegas.
"This fight is a big one because I don't believe we've seen a Mexican fighter face another Mexican fighter with pride, dignity and talent all on the line,” said Golden Boy Partner Bernard Hopkins at the final press conference. “I look at this as a very brutal fight because Chavez, Jr. is coming with legacy behind him and to prove whatever has happened in the past won't happen on Saturday. Canelo is the face of one of the most important months in boxing, and I know he wants to continue that reputation.”
Canelo Alvarez, for all intents and purposes, is the current face of boxing and certainly of Cinco de Mayo in the post “Money Mayweather” era. He is a rare pay-per-view star and is creeping up on the same level of loyalty from Mexican fans that Chavez, Sr. experienced for most of his career. With a high boxing I.Q. and power to match, he will give Chavez, Jr. real problems that will have to be adjusted to.
Much has been made over Chavez’s choice to switch to longtime trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain, whose Hall of Fame career of 22 Mexican champions trained, including Chavez, Sr., is remarkable. Also, Chavez, Jr. added strength and conditioning coach Guillermo "Memo" Heredia who has been credited with Chavez, Jr.’s incredible pre-fight physique.
Although Canelo has overcome the language barrier to translate to the average fan, Chavez, Jr. is in a unique advantage as a primary English speaker and the son of a legend. If he wins, his stature will rise globally and with a rematch clause in place if Chavez, Jr. wins, it could make for a great rubber-match. With the $1 million price tag per pound over that Chavez comes in on weigh-in day, it is no wonder that he is taking this fight extremely seriously.
“I am the son of a legend, but some of -- all of my accomplishments have come from my work,” said Chavez, Jr. “I'm the one who wins these fights, and I think one of the reasons they picked me is because I put on good fights. I'm the type of fighter that people want to see, and they know that this fight will generate bigger revenue, and that's another reason why this fight is happening.”
The millennial battle for Mexico will air live on HBO PPV this Saturday, May 6th 2017 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas at 9pm EST / 6m PST.