Weight issues for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.?
As Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. steps on the scales this afternoon, he will have to weigh 164.5 pounds (or less) or face a penalty of a million dollars per pound before he faces Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. They often say there are two fights in combat sports – the first is against the scales and then the actual fight.
And there’s a debate as to which one is tougher.
Back in September of 2012, Chavez weighed in at 158 pounds before he faced Sergio Martinez for the world middleweight title. Since then, he has weighed in at 172.5, 167.5, 171.5, 170.75 and 168 for his subsequent outings. It’s clear that, at age 31, Chavez is a full-fledged super middleweight.
The question is how does cutting a few more pounds – which are oftentimes the most grueling – affect him?
This fight was made at a catchweight as a compromise between the two Mexicans, who, for most of their careers, have been a few weight classes apart from each other. The heaviest Canelo has weighed is 155 pounds (which he’s done for Amir Khan, Miguel Cotto, Erislandy Lara and Alfredo Angulo). Chavez first became a full-fledged middleweight in 2009, when he faced Troy Rowland at 160 pounds.
Perhaps 164.5 pounds is a fair middle ground, given it’s basically at the center point between super middleweight and middleweight. But with Alvarez being the clear A-side in this equation, the catchweight imposed was designed to give him a bit of an edge. Yes, while he might be moving up in weight, unlike Chavez, he wont be starving and depleting himself to hit 164.5.
The founder of Golden Boy Promotions Oscar De La Hoya, whose company represents Alvarez and is promoting this Cinco De Mayo weekend event, knows what Chavez is going through right now. Back in 2008, he faced Manny Pacquiao in what many perceived to be a physical mismatch in his favor. After all, Pacquiao was just coming off a title bout at lightweight against David Diaz and would be jumping two full weight classes to face De La Hoya.
But what was overlooked was that the last time De La Hoya had made 147 pounds was in March of 2001 when he faced Arturo Gatti. From that point, the “Golden Boy” had even ventured up to the middleweight division to face then-WBO titlist Felix Sturm and undisputed champion Bernard Hopkins. Just prior to facing the “Pac-Man,” he weighed 150 pounds and looked sluggish versus Steve Forbes.
On that fateful night on Dec. 6, 2008, a listless De La Hoya was peppered by Pacquiao from the very onset of the fight with left hands and riddled him with his movement. He simply had nothing that night.
Agreeing to fight at welterweight at that stage of his career, De La Hoya admitted, “Big mistake,” adding, “I also want to make it clear: We brought in a new nutritionist. He had me eating kangaroo meat; he had me eating venison. I came down to 141 a month before the fight, so I had no muscle whatsoever. So I was a dead man walking. But still, Pacquiao, he was a fast fighter; he surprised me and was able to win the fight.”
If anything foreshadowed what was going to take place in that fight, it was the weigh-in in which De La Hoya, upon coming onto the stage, slumped into a chair, the picture of lethargy.
De La Hoya recalled, “Well, when I sat down and I saw the audience, you know how in the cartoons, a little dog is hungry and he pictures steaks. I was picturing everyone in the audience being like steaks and I could go eat. I was a dead man walking.”
The fight with Pacquiao was of a very personal nature for De La Hoya. Not only did he want to defeat Pacquiao (who he thought he had brought over to Golden Boy a year or two earlier) but it was also an opportunity to strike a major blow to rival Top Rank Promotions. Adding fuel to the fire was that Freddie Roach (who had trained Oscar for his bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr. the year before) was chiding him in the lead-up to this fight. People within De La Hoya’s camp will tell you that he had a obsession with this fight that caused him to maniacally overtrain.
Here, more was less.
And perhaps, at age 35, Oscar had simply gotten old.
It’s something De La Hoya started to sense during this training camp in Big Bear, California.
“I felt that a month before,” he recalled. “I was getting beat up by Edwin Valero, who was a ’35-pounder at the time. I knew that I was struggling.”
A full day to re-hydrate after the weigh-in, didn’t help De La Hoya versus Pacquiao.
“I remember, in the dressing room, right before the fight, when they told me it was time to fight,” he recalled. “I tried to get up and I fell back because I was light-headed. Yeah, it was pretty bad.”
And this night would only get worse as De La Hoya told his trainer Nacho Beristain (who, ironically, will be in Chavez’s corner on Saturday night) to call off the fight after the eighth round. It was the last fight of his career.
Discipline has never been Junior’s strong point (yeah, how’s that for understatement?) but, for this camp, he has put his nose to the grindstone under the guidance of Angel “Memo” Heredia and his special brand of voodoo. Maybe it’s the motivation of reclaiming the throne as the ruler of Mexican boxing or the million-dollars-per-pound – or both – but it’s clear he’s worked diligently to make the latest version of the “Canelo-weight.”
But will he have anything left for Saturday night?
The weigh-in for Canelo-Chavez will take place from the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Doors open at 1 p.m. PT and the two main event fighters are scheduled to be on the scale at 3:15 p.m. PT (which will be aired live on ESPN’s SportsCenter)…”Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN” returns on ESPN2 tonight with a lightweight main event featuring Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Robinson Castellanos…Do we stick in a fork in the San Antonio Spurs without Tony Parker?…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.