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The Namesake Son of Mexico’s Greatest Fighter Just Keeps Fouling-Up

Arne K. Lang

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The TSS 2019 Fighter of the Year will be announced later this week. It’s plain that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr isn’t in the running. Indeed, his name is mud after his feeble showing against Daniel Jacobs this past Friday, Dec. 20, in Phoenix. As he left the ring with his entourage after calling it a night after five rounds, he was showered with invective and pelted with garbage.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr has a splendid record, currently 51-4-1 with 33 KOs. He is the son of the man widely regarded as Mexico’s greatest fighter. Someday decades from now someone will look at the record of the two Chavez’s, a combined 158-10-3 with 118 KOs, and conclude that this was the greatest father-son combination in the history of the sport. At the moment, however, the younger Chavez is considered something of a fraud. And it isn’t just because of his actions in Phoenix but because it fit the pattern of a man with bad habits who is unwilling to play by the rules.

In 2009, Chavez Jr tested positive for the banned diuretic furosemide after winning a 10-round unanimous decision over Troy Rowland in a fight at the MGM Grand. The Nevada State Athletic Commission fined him $10,000, suspended him for seven months, and changed the decision to “no-contest” (as it appears in BoxRec).

In 2012, after his match with Sergio Martinez, Chavez Jr tested positive for THC (tetrohydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component of marijuana. Chavez acknowledged that he had smoked a marijuana cigarette, but said he consumed it nine days before the fight and at the behest of a member of his camp who promoted it as a stress-inhibitor.

The Nevada Athletic Commission was unforgiving. In large part because Chavez was a multiple offender, they slapped him with a $900,000 fine (one-third of his purse) and a nine-month suspension.

The Nevada Commission, and not Chavez Jr, became the bad guy when this draconian punishment was made known. The penalty was denounced as overkill, especially as marijuana is not a performance-enhancing drug; if anything, it’s the opposite. “The $900,000 fine,” said prominent local journalist John L. Smith, “left some folks wondering what the Nevada Athletic Commission was inhaling.”

(A simple majority of the five-man commission was required to approve the fine. The three commissioners that voted for it – Las Vegas businessman and former state legislator Bill Brady and attorneys Pat Lundvall and Francisco Aguilar – are no longer with the commission. The commission eventually conceded that it had overreacted and reduced the fine to $100,000. As of Jan. 1, 2017, marijuana is legal in Nevada for recreational purposes. The NSAC has removed it from the list of banned substances. Nowadays, trucks bearing billboards for cannabis dispensaries troll the Las Vegas Strip 24/7).

Whatever sympathy Chavez Jr earned was squandered on April 18, 2015, when he quit on his stool after nine rounds in his bout with Andrzej Fonfara. Chavez Jr was taking quite a beating, but it never redounds well to a fighter when he initiates a stoppage. The fans want to see him go out on his shield.

Chavez Jr began his pro career as a skinny 17-year-old carrying 130 pounds on his 6’0” frame. His fight with Fonfara was contested at the catch-weight of 173. It isn’t all that uncommon for a boxer to put on more than 40 pounds during the course of a long career (think James Toney), but yet the general feeling was that Chavez Jr. had allowed himself to get too heavy. “Truth be told,” said Brian Mazique, then writing for Bleacher Report, “160 pounds is still the best weight class for Chavez but there are serious concerns as to whether he’s willing to discipline himself enough to make the weight.”

Chavez Jr’s next important engagement was his May 6, 2017 match with countryman Canelo Alvarez at Las Vegas’ recently opened T-Mobile Arena. The bout was contested before a sold-out crowd of 20,510 (17,143 paid). This was Cinco de Mayo weekend, always a gala weekend in Las Vegas. Many of the attendees traveled thousands of miles to witness the battle for Mexican boxing supremacy and Chavez Jr, who was not lacking for crowd support, let everyone down. He fought to survive, not to win, and lost every round on all three scorecards in a fight without an indelible moment.

Chavez Jr’s fight with Daniel Jacobs was set to play out at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Chavez Jr completed his preparation at Freddie Roach’s famous Wild Card Gym in Hollywood. On Oct. 24, emissaries for the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) visited the Wild Card for the purpose of collecting a urine sample from him. Chavez Jr blew them off. According to Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman, the co-founder of VADA, this was the first instance in which a fighter flat-out refused to take a random drug test (as opposed to being impossible to find).

The NSAC acted quickly, hitting Chavez with a temporary suspension and then extending it for an indefinite period at their monthly meeting in November, knocking the fight out of Nevada. Francisco Meneses, the executive director of Arizona’s Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts Commission, then reached out to the bout’s promoter, Great Britain’s Eddie Hearn, about the feasibility of moving the fight to Arizona pending an okay from the commission’s legal counsel.

The obstacles to holding the fight in Phoenix were removed – and least in the opinion of Meneses and his consultants — when attorneys for Chavez Jr succeeded in obtaining a Temporary Restraining Order against the Nevada Athletic Commission. They argued that the agency had no power to suspend an unlicensed boxer and because Chavez hadn’t yet renewed his license, he could not be suspended; he was immune. District Court Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey, a native Nevadan like Chavez’s lead attorney Ross Goodman, signed off on the Restraining Order.

One thing that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr has been very good at is picking attorneys. Ross Goodman is the son of Oscar and Caroline Goodman. Oscar Goodman was a well-known mob attorney before he was elected mayor of Las Vegas. He served three terms and was succeeded by his wife, the current mayor. Oscar and Caroline have controlled the mayor’s office for the last 20 years.

Some of the members of the Nevada Athletic Commission have a considerable amount of influence, but none has as much juice as Ross Goodman. If you go to court in Las Vegas, you don’t want to look up and find Oscar and Caroline’s son representing the other side.

There would be more drama on the day before the fight when Chavez Jr weighed in almost five pounds above the stipulated 168-pound limit. The bout was salvaged when Chavez agreed to pay forfeit money to Daniel Jacobs, reportedly a cool $1 million, one-third or one-half of Chavez’s purse depending on the source.

Then came the fight and a performance widely derided as disgraceful. Chavez Jr had a few good moments, but even before the end of the fourth round there were indications that he didn’t have enough fuel in his tank to last the distance. When he called it quits, the crowd, which was overwhelmingly pro-Chavez before the start of the match, erupted in indignation. Chairs were overturned, there were fights in the crowd, and there was almost a full-blown riot. Chavez did not attend the post-fight press conference. A spokesman said that he had broken his nose and that it would require reconstructive surgery.

Approbation was swift. “This spoiled and petulant man has none of the blue-collar work ethic that made his father a legend,” fumed Yahoo’s Kevin Iole.

Perhaps we should cut Junior a little slack. It can’t be easy being the namesake son of a legend; that’s a heavy burden to bear. Giving and receiving a steady stream of punches over the course of a 12-round fight is an under-appreciated feat of endurance and Chavez Jr, it’s worth remembering, went the full 12 with future Hall of Famer Sergio Martinez and nearly pulled that fight out of the fire with a late rally, his signature moment in a career largely devoid of signature wins.

But it’s hard to feel sorry for him. At the pre-fight press conference, he sounded confident. “There are a lot of good fighters out there at 168 pounds; not big names but strong guys. I feel I can beat them all,” he said. After the bout he said he only lost because Jacobs fought dirty, complaining that he had been repeatedly elbowed and head-butted, infractions that weren’t evident to those in the arena or those watching the live-stream on DAZN.

One thing we learned once again, as if we needed reminding, was that a professional fighter’s won-loss record is one of the most worthless statistics in all of sports. (No disrespect to the elder Chavez who fought a lot of stiffs, yes, but was really, really good.) And we learned that while boxing is the theater of the unexpected, a line credited to Larry Merchant, a promoter can increase the odds of unexpectedness in a bad way by employing a recidivist like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

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The Hauser Report: Garcia-Redkach and More

Thomas Hauser

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Boxing made its debut at Barclays Center on October 20, 2012, with a fight card headlined by four world title bouts. Danny Garcia, Erik Morales, Paulie Malignaggi, Peter Quillin, Devon Alexander, Danny Jacobs, and Luis Collazo were in the ring that night. The franchise grew nicely. Fans who went to Barclays saw good featured fights with solid undercard bouts. But as of late, the arena’s fistic offerings have faded.

Barclays cast its lot with Premier Boxing Champions. And PBC has moved its prime content to greener pastures (green being the color of money). There were five fight cards at Barclays Center in 2019. Each one struggled to sell tickets.

January 25 marked the thirty-ninth fight card at Barclays. The arena was half empty. The announced attendance was 8,217 but that included a lot of freebies. There were six fights on the card. As expected, fighters coming out of the blue corner won all of them. That’s what happens when 6-0 squares off against 2-10-1.

Three of the fights were televised by Showtime Championship Boxing, which has also been diminished as a consequence of a multi-year output deal with PBC.

In the first of these bouts, Stephen Fulton (17-0, 8 KOs) and Ukrainian-born Arnold Khegai (16-0, 10 KOs) met in a junior-featherweight bout. Each had fought the usual suspects en route to their confrontation. There was a lot of holding and rabbit-punching which referee Steve Willis ignored. Eventually, Fulton pulled away for a unanimous-decision triumph.

Next up, Jarrett Hurd (23-1, 16 KOs) took on Francisco Santana (25-7, 12 KOs).

Hurd is a big junior-middleweight who held the WBA and IBF 154-pound titles until losing to Julian Williams last year. Santana is a career welterweight who had lost three of his most recent four fights and had won only three times in the last five years.

Hurd was expected to walk through Santana. But he was strangely passive for much of the fight, which led to the strange spectacle of Santana (the noticeably smaller, lighter-punching man) walking Jarrett down for long stretches of time. Francisco is a one-dimensional fighter and was there to be hit. When Jarrett let his hands go, he hit him. But he fought like a man who didn’t want to fight and didn’t let his hands go often enough.

By round seven, the boos and jeers were raining down. Hurd won a unanimous decision but looked mediocre. That’s the most honest way to put it. One wonders what tricks losing to Julian Williams last year played with his mind.

Also, it should be noted that, when the winning fighter thanks God in a post-fight interview and the crowd (which supported Jarrett at the start of the bout) boos at the mention of The Almighty, there’s a problem.

“The crowd didn’t love it,” Hurd acknowledged afterward. “But you gotta understand; I got the unanimous decision and I did what I wanted to do.”

The main event matched Danny Garcia (35-2, 21 KOs) against Ivan Redkach (23-4-1, 18 KOs).

Garcia had a nice run early in his career, winning belts at 140 and 147 pounds. But later, he came out on the losing end of decisions against Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter. Other than that, he has gone in soft for the past five years.

Redkach is a junior-welterweight who had won 5 of 10 fights during the same five-year time frame.

There was the usual pre-fight nonsense with Garcia telling reporters, “We picked Redkach because he’s dangerous and we knew he’d be tough.” But in truth, Redkach had been whitewashed by Tevin Farmer at 135 pounds and was knocked out at the same weight by John Molina Jr (who never won again).

Garcia, like Hurd, was a 30-to-1 betting favorite.

Redkach fought a safety-first fight. Also, safety second and third. There wasn’t one second when it looked as though he had a realistic chance of winning the fight or fought like he did.

One of the few proactive things that Ivan did do was stick out his tongue from time to time when Garcia hit him. Then, at the end of round eight, he bit Danny on the shoulder while they were in a clinch. At that point, one might have expected referee Benjy Esteves to disqualify Redkach. But Esteves seemed to not notice.

Rather than go for the kill after the bite, Garcia eased up and cruised to a unanimous decision. Meanwhile, by round eleven, the crowd was streaming for the exits. Most of the fans were gone by the time the decision was announced.

Garcia and Hurd had set-up showcase fights scheduled for them. And neither man delivered the way he should have.

Meanwhile, a final thought . . . Sunday, January 26, would have been Harold Lederman’s eightieth birthday.

Harold was the quintessential boxing fan and loved the sport more than anyone I’ve known. He never missed a fight at Barclays Center unless his health prevented him from coming or he was on the road for HBO. He died eight months ago.

As Saturday night’s fight card unfolded, I imagined Harold sitting beside me. He would have had a kind word for everyone who came over to say hello and loved every minute of it. Harold Lederman at the fights was a happy man.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book — A Dangerous Journey: Another Year Inside Boxing — was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. On June 14, 2020, he will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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Fast Results from Brooklyn: No Surprises as Garcia and Hurd Win Lopsidedly

Arne K. Lang

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Tonight, Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia made his eighth appearance at Barclays Center. Garcia’s 2017 fight with Keith Thurman drew 16,533, the attendance high for a boxing show at the arena. A far smaller crowd was in attendance tonight to see Garcia take on Ivan Redkach in a non-title fight slated for 12 rounds.

Redkach, a 33-year-old LA-based Ukrainian, is a southpaw. That’s no coincidence. Garcia hopes to land big-money fights with Errol Spence and/or Manny Pacquiao, both southpaws.

Redkach (23-4-1 coming in) turned his career around in his last fight with a career-best performance, a sixth-round stoppage of former two-division title-holder Devon Alexander, a 15-year pro who hadn’t previously been stopped. But there was a class difference between he and Danny Garcia, a former WBA and WBC 140-pound world title-holder and former WBC 147-pound champion.

Garcia (35-2, 21 KOs) was simply sharper. His workrate slowed late in the fight, allowing the game Redkach to steal a few rounds, but at the final gun he was relatively unmarked whereas Redkach was conspicuously bruised. The scores were 118-110 and 117-111 twice. The crowd booed at intervals, understandable as they were subject to a drab 6-fight card that was even less interesting than it was on paper.

Co-Feature

In the 10-round co-feature, Jarrett Hurd, making his first start since losing his WBA/IBF super welterweight title to Julian Williams last May, went on cruise control from the opening bell and jabbed his way to a lopsided 10-round decision over Francisco Santana. Hurd, who improved to 24-1, finally let loose late in the 10th frame, putting Santana (25-8-1) on the canvas with a succession of left hooks, but by then many in the crowd had probably nodded off.

This was Hurd’s first fight with new trainer Kay Koroma who has drawn raves for his work with America’s elite amateurs. The scores were 97-92 and 99-90 twice. SoCal’s Santana has now lost five of his last eight.

The opening bout on the main TV portion of the card was a 12-round super bantamweight contest between Philadelphia’s Stephen Fulton and fellow unbeaten Arnold Khegai who currently trains in Philadelphia.

Fulton (18-0, 8 KOs) simply had too much class for Khegai (16-1-1), a Ukrainian of Korean heritage. Although Khegai frequently backed Fulton into the ropes, the Philadelphian had an air-tight defense and connected with many more punches. The fight went the full 12 with Fulton prevailing by scores of 116-112 and 117-111 twice.

If the WBO has its way, Fulton will proceed to a fight with Emanuel Navarrete, but don’t hold your breath as Navarrete is promoted by Bob Arum who undoubtedly wants to extract more mileage from him before letting him risk his belt against a crafty fighter like Stephen Fulton.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Sacramento Honors Diego ‘Chico’ Corrales

Arne K. Lang

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Tonight (Saturday, Jan. 25) former two-division world boxing champion Diego “Chico” Corrales will be posthumously inducted into the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame at the organization’s eighth annual induction ceremony at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort.

Corrales, who grew up in Sacramento, the son of a Columbian father and a Mexican mother, turned pro at age 18 and went on to compile a record of 40-5 (33 KOs). He won his first title in 1999 with a seventh-round stoppage of previously undefeated Robert Garcia. Now recognized as one of boxing’s top trainers, Garcia was making the fourth defense of his IBF 130-pound title.

Five years later, Corrales won the WBO world lightweight title with a 10th-round stoppage of Brazil’s previously undefeated Acelino Freitas. That set up a unification fight with the WBC belt-holder Jose Luis Castillo.

Corrales and Castillo met on May 7, 2005, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. To say they put on a great fight would be an understatement. The boxing writers in attendance will tell you that this was the greatest fight of all time. It was named Fight of the Decade by The Ring magazine.

The final round, the 10th, was unbelievable. Heading into the round, Corrales was ahead on two of the three scorecards, but his left eye was swollen nearly shut and during the round he was knocked down twice. No one would have faulted referee Tony Weeks for stopping the fight after the second knockdown. But, somehow, Corrales was able to rally, pulling the fight out of the fire with a barrage of punches that had Castillo out on his feet when Weeks waived it off.

Two years to the very day of this iconic fight, Diego “Chico” Corrales died in a motorcycle accident in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas when he rear-ended a car while traveling at a high rate of speed. He was 29 years old.

Corrales was a thrill-seeker. In a 2006 profile, Las Vegas Review-Journal boxing writer Kevin Iole enumerated these among Castillo’s hobbies: jumping out of planes from 14,000 feet, bungee jumping from 400 feet, snowboarding in treacherous terrain and scuba diving amid a school of sharks. “He lived his life the same way he fought,” said his promoter Gary Shaw, “with reckless abandon.”

It might seem odd that it took so long for Corrales to be recognized by the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame, but there was a period when Corrales’s name was mud in his hometown and perhaps the organization’s founder, Las Vegas sports radio personality T.C. Martin, a Sacramento native, thought it appropriate to let old wounds heal.

In 2001, shortly after suffering his first pro loss at the hands of Floyd Mayweather, Corrales pled guilty to felony domestic violence in the beating of his first wife and would serve 14 months in prison. “The whole family has worn a black eye for it,” Diego’s brother Esteban Corrales told Sacramento Bee reporter Marcos Bretan.

For all his recklessness, the incident didn’t jibe with his persona. In the company of Las Vegas sportswriters, the soft-spoken and well-spoken Corrales came across as polite and humble.

Corrales, one of five inductees in the 2020 class, joins three other boxers already installed in the Sacramento Hall: Pete Ranzany, Loreto Garza, and Tony “Tiger” Lopez.

Ranzany, a welterweight, fought four former or future world champions and was a fixture in Sacramento rings in the late 1970’s. Garza wrested the WBA super lightweight title from Argentina’s Juan Martin Coggi in France and successfully defended the belt here in Sacramento with a one-sided conquest of Vinny Pazienza. Lopez, Sacramento’s most popular fighter ever, made the turnstiles hum at the city’s largest arena where he fought eight of his 14 world title fights beginning with his 1988 humdinger with defending IBF 130-pound champion Rocky Lockridge.

Among the speakers at tonight’s confab will be Kenny Adams. Perhaps best known as the head trainer for the 1988 U.S. Olympic team that won eight medals in Seoul, Adams currently trains Nonito Donaire. He was with Diego Corrales for 24 fights, during which Corrales was 23-1, avenging the lone defeat by Joel Casamayor. Festivities start at 7 pm.

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