My record says I only fought two amateur fights before turning pro. But that’s not entirely true.
From the time I was 12 years old to the time I was 15, my father would line up kids from around the neighborhood to fight me. He’d take older, bigger, stronger kids who were either hanging out in the streets or working at the supermarket for a $3 or $5 wage and pay them $20 to fight me. If they won, he gave them $50. Fighting me was the best job in the neighborhood.
I didn’t have any choice. Not fighting wasn’t an option. One time, I was getting ready to go play soccer, and my father refused to let me go until I boxed this bigger kid he’d brought in. I didn’t even change my clothes. I boxed him right there with my soccer cleats on. When my father said fight, I fought.
That was my amateur boxing career.
My father is a legend. He taught me things about boxing that nobody else could have taught me. I learned watching him. I learned his style. He taught me how to fight. He taught me his trademark liver punch — we would spend hours practicing that. He taught me the sacrifice it takes to be a world champion. I wouldn’t be the boxer I am today without my father.
But imagine for a moment that he’s not my father. He’s still a legend in the sport and one of the greatest in history, but we don’t share the same name. Would you still compare me to him? Would you put my record and my accomplishments next to his and say I’ve underachieved? If he’s not my father, is that a fair comparison?
I’ve been fighting for 12 years and I’ve only lost two fights. I’ve won 48 fights, 31 by knockout. I knocked out Andy Lee, who went on to become a world champion. I was the first Mexican ever to win the middleweight title.
These are my credentials, and I believe they say I’m a good fighter in my own right. And they’re just the beginning of the legacy I’m carving for myself. My legacy. But I still have a lot more to do.
These last two years have been the most distressing of my career and of my life. A legal issue with my former promoter forced me to go 13 months without fighting, the longest stretch in my career. But that wasn’t all. There were also people putting pressure on my father to convince me to continue fighting with other promoters, and it caused a strain in our relationship.
Boxing is a business as much as it is a sport, and what I learned in those 13 months was that it can be an ugly business. Sometimes it feels like you’re just an animal they throw into the ring to fight. It can be tough to deal with sometimes.
At times, I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to fight again. There were moments when I had no idea what I was going to do. I was depressed. I even thought about quitting boxing — just leaving it all behind.
But I’m still here, because I love boxing.
Now that it’s all behind me and these issues have been resolved, I feel like I’m in a much better place mentally. Now I need to get myself back to where I need to be inside the ring.
I fought 22 fights in 24 months to start my career. Yes, many of the early fights were four-round fights, but I was always ready and willing to fight, so taking 13 months off really took its toll.
For my first fight back, I chose a very difficult fighter in Andrzej Fonfara and I chose to fight out of my weight class. The fight ended in my second-career loss. I could have blamed it on the layoff. I could have blamed it on the weight class. I could have quit. But instead, the Monday after the fight, I was back in the ring training. Rather than discourage me, that loss has motivated me to come back and be the fighter I know I can be. That’s why, three months later, I’m getting back in the ring against Marco Reyes.
I have a lot of boxing left in me, but I have to get my rhythm back. I have to get back to the level I used to be at. The only way to do that is to get in the ring and fight.
The worst defeat would be not trying.
I’m at a turning point in my career. Coming off a tumultuous couple of years that included a legal issue, strain within my family, the longest layoff of my career and now a loss inside the ring is a lot to overcome. But I’m as motivated as I’ve ever been in my career to continue carving my own legacy — a legacy that sets me apart from my father.
I’m often referred to as “The Son of the Legend.” This is true. My father is a legend, and I am his son. There is and will always be talk about the pressure of fighting under my father’s name and in my father’s shadow. But others talk about it more than I think about it. The reality is, it doesn’t affect me. When I get into the ring, I don’t have time to think about my father, or the pressure of my name, or trying to be him or match him. If I’m not 100 percent focused on the person I’m fighting, I won’t make it out of the ring.
My name has helped me because people knew my name from the very beginning. It’s helped my brand. But at the end of the day, I’m the one earning these accomplishments in my career. I’m the one who gets up in the ring. I’m the one who gets hit. I haven’t won 48 pro fights just because he’s my father. I’ve done that myself.
There’s been pressure, but it’s also been an honor to be his son, so I’ve learned how to live with that pressure. My father was a great boxer. He had a great record. But also, I’ve accomplished certain things. I’ve made some mistakes along the way, but I’ve carved out my own history, and I’m not done. I have much more to write.
The next chapter comes Saturday against Marcos Reyes.
The rest of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s legacy begins now.