Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. returns to the ring to face fellow Mexican Marcos Reyes in the main event of Showtime Championship boxing on Saturday at the Don Haskins Arena in the University of Texas El Paso in Texas.

Making Changes

After his stunning 9th round TKO defeat to Andrzej Fonfara three months ago, Chavez Jr has made a couple of very important career changes. First, Chavez Jr. changed trainers by turning to the famed Robert Garcia of Oxnard, California. Garcia has trained the likes of Brandon Rios, Nonito Donaire Jr., Antonio Margarito, Marcos Maidana and his brother and two-division world champion Miguel Angel “Mikee” Garcia. Prior to Garcia, Chavez worked with Joe Goosen, but it was just for the Fonfara bout.

Aside from changing trainers, Chavez also moved down to super middleweight for this bout (and perhaps for good) because he felt that he didn’t belong to light heavyweight as proven in the Fonfara fight where he said the naturally bigger opponent “really hurt him” and slowed him down. What remains to be seen is how Chavez will make weight because he has been known to have problems with his fighting weight.

At a Crossroads as Elite

Chavez’s career as an elite boxer is at a crossroads right now. He’s lost two of his last four bouts with two wins over fringe challenger Brian Vera in between. After his second fight against Vera, Chavez was out of action for over a year following a contract dispute which led to him leaving Top Rank in favor of PBC founder Al Haymon. Against the wishes of his father and namesake Julio Sr., the younger Chavez agreed to fight former title challenger Fonfara in his light heavyweight debut. That proved to be a bad gamble as a visibly worn out Chavez suffered the first knockdown of his career and was stopped in the 9th round.

Chavez won the WBC middleweight title with a 12-round majority decision win over Sebastian Zbik in 2011. He defended the belt three times before losing to former lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez in 2012. Although Chavez lost to Martinez via wide unanimous decision, Junior knocked down Martinez in the final round and almost finished him off as time expired. However, Chavez failed a post fight drug test that led to a nine month suspension.

Tailor Made?

Unlike the Fonfara fight where Chavez Jr. was literally fed to the lion, Marcos Chavez looks tailor made to resurrect Julio Jr.’s career. The Mexican is known to be a brawler who doesn’t back down from a gun fight and his 24 knockouts in 33 wins is proof of that. Reyes has fought exclusively in Mexico and this will be his first fight on U.S. soil. More importantly, this will be his first bout against a former world champion and should be a big step up in his level of opposition.

Chavez meanwhile is moving back in weight and he will have the physical advantage over his opponent. At his natural weight class, Julio Jr. should overpower Reyes in a slugfest. The odds have him high at -1200 against the +600 Reyes and it’s likely that this fight won’t go the distance. However, Chavez Jr. is notorious for not training seriously and should he come out of shape, we could see the end of his career. He’s still 29 and has an excellent trainer in Robert Garcia who can bring out and maximize his potentials. However, as in the past, no matter how good his trainer has been, the problem has always been with Julio Jr. himself.

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