Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is acting more grown up, those close to him say.
Thursday, as he came to the downtown Millenium Biltmore Hotel to promote his delayed super-middleweight fight against Bryan Vera on Sept. 28 at StubHub Center in Carson, Chavez provided some examples of the maturation.
First, he stood and answered why he tested positive for marijuana after suffering his first career loss last September to world middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.
“If I told you why I did it, I’d be lying to you.... I guess the best way to explain it is that I was having a tough time with my sparring partners and my foot was hurting. I felt like I was working too hard and needed to relax,” Chavez said.
“I used something illegal, it was wrong and I got penalized.”
Chavez (46-1-1, 32 knockouts) was suspended for nine months and fined heavily by the Nevada State Athletic Commission after his trainer, Freddie Roach, had complained the fighter was resistant and negligent about doing the training necessary to beat a decorated champion like Martinez.
Martinez dominated the bout until Chavez rocked him and knocked him down in the 12th round, Martinez fighting to survive and win by decision.
“I was very upset and angry with myself,” Chavez said of the layoff. “I didn’t come close to doing what I wanted to do in that fight. I guess if you go through a difficult time, you have to find a reason to learn from it.”
Chavez is celebrating that his girlfriend is six months pregnant with their child, and that he’s back in training.
He was supposed to fight Vera (23-6, 14 KOs) on Sept. 7 at Staples Center, but suffered a cut over his right eye and needed more time.
Chavez has his famous father, Julio Cesar Chavez, as an assistant trainer to new head trainer Vladimir Baldenebro, who is replacing Roach -- temporarily, according to the younger Chavez.
“Freddie’s with Miguel Cotto right now, and I’m training in Las Vegas,” Chavez said. “It’s up to Freddie if he’ll work with me again, but I want to work with him.
“With my dad, he was always yelling and screaming from his seat in the crowd, so I said, ‘Let’s do it more professionally, come help me in the corner instead of making security tell you to get back in your seat.’ It’s important for me to have him with me.”
Chavez said his father, who struggled with dependency issues late in his career, “called me out on a few things … he didn’t know what I was feeling. Now, he understands more.”
Part of the younger Chavez’s stress, he said, was related to his struggle to make the fight weight of 160. He said that the discomfort of dropping 13 pounds for four fights from June 4, 2011 to June 16, 2012 was extremely difficult, and that he was warned by a doctor that it was unhealthy.
Now, his promoter, Bob Arum, said that as long as Chavez shows he can “step it up and prepare himself like a regular fighter,” he’ll be pointed toward a spring 2014 fight against 168-pound world champion Andre Ward.
“He didn’t train at all for Martinez,” Arum said. “I’ve never had any doubts about his skill level. My doubts were only about his dedication. He can beat anybody if he’s dedicated and in shape. Nobody can hurt him.”
Vera, who has twice defeated former super-welterweight champion Sergio Mora, said to “expect a war. We’re both prepared to come to fight and have great chins.”
Said Chavez: “I see this as the beginning of the second part of my career and I’m very motivated to show everyone I want to be the best fighter in the world.”
Former World Boxing Council (WBC) middleweight champion and Son of the Legend JULIO CÉSAR CHÁVEZ, JR., returning to the ring in his 2013 debut, and No. 1 contender BRYAN "The Warrior" VERA will battle each other on Saturday, September 28, under the stars at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. The Chávez vs. Vera 12-round super middleweight rumble marks the first time Chávez has fought in the Los Angeles area since June 4, 2011, when he won the world title over undefeated interim world champion Sebastian Zbik. The fight will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing®, beginning at 10:15 p.m. ET/PT.
Promoted by Top Rank®, in association with Zanfer Promotions, Banner Promotions and Tecate, remaining tickets to Chávez vs. Vera, priced at $200, $100, $50 and $20 (plus applicable taxes and fees), can be purchased online at www.axs.com, by telephone at (888) 929-7849 or at the StubHub Center box office, Monday - Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Suites are available by calling (877) 604-8777. For information on group discounts, please call (877) 234-8425).