Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., left, and Sergio Martinez stare down one another… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)
The jabs that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has taken about supposedly being the babied son of a champion are over.
At 26, Chavez (46-0-1, 32 knockouts) is the world middleweight champion.
And on Sept. 15, he’s scheduled to step into the ring against a recent fighter of the year and a recent middleweight champion, Sergio Martinez.
“You will know what type of fighter I am on Sept. 15,” Chavez said Tuesday in launching a national press tour at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.
Chavez was emboldened by his seventh-round technical-knockout victory over Andy Lee on June 16, overwhelming the challenger in his third title defense with his size, body punching and power shots at the close.
Behind the scenes, Chavez has been spurred on by his legendary fighter father, who has rebounded from substance and alcohol abuse since 2010.
“He cleaned up his life, and I could concentrate on boxing -- and not worry about him,” the younger Chavez said.
It also helped that he could lean on the wisdom of famed trainer Freddie Roach. Chavez is tougher than he’s ever been, more willing to engage in close and sustained by the evidence that he has the same sturdy chin as his father.
Even so, when someone asked him at Tuesday’s event why he’s so much bigger than the elder Chavez, he cracked, “Maybe I’m not his son.”
Clearly he is, and the matchmakers for his promoter, Top Rank, became convinced even before the Lee fight that a date with Martinez on Mexican Independence Day at Thomas and Mack Arena in Las Vegas could be pursued.
“It’s the chicken and the egg -- the son is succeeding because the father is dedicated to teaching the son the stuff he was known for in the ring: the dedication, the determination,” Chavez promoter Bob Arum said.
“People who said before that we were ducking Martinez, they’re … right. Whether the kid beats Martinez, I don’t know. But I know he’ll give him a competitive fight.”
The 37-year-old Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs) said he was surprised to learn Chavez had accepted the bout.
“I thought we’d keep going in circles,” Martinez said. “He was losing his credibility. But he’s betting better each fight. Being a champion makes you better.”
That said, Martinez expects his veteran wisdom to define the bout.
“I’m going to hurt him, punch him a lot and the fight will end in a knockout before the 10th round,” Martinez said. “This will be the best fight, the best show of my career.”
Tickets, priced between $25 and $600, go on sale Thursday
As for the other Sept. 15 fight on the boxing calendar, world super-welterweight Saul "Canelo" Alvarez's title defense against a yet-to-be-named opponent at MGM Grand, Martinez said the bout will pale in comparison to the intensity of his date with Chavez.
"Them putting Canelo on that same day is a mistake," Martinez said.
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