The lack of a strong amateur boxing program can often spell the end of a boxer’s career before it gets started. Sergio Martinez, who will meet Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in the ring on Sept. 15 on HBO, is an ardent supporter of the need for growth in the amateur boxing arena.
“I would first make sure there is a strong amateur program that caters to younger fighters looking to get into the sport of boxing and provide them proper training,” noted Martinez. More often than not, especially in Spain and the United States a lot of the younger athletes tend to gravitate more towards fùtbol and basketball. They have better amateur programs than boxing and there could’ve been some great fighters that never stepped in the ring because the amateur programs in other sports were far superior.”
“You can also attest to the diminishment of the heavyweight division in America with not having a proper amateur program. Most of the great heavyweights now are coming from Eastern Europe and they are excellent fighters. They have the proper amateur training and schooling and support. In America, most of the large fighters that would be great heavyweights are being groomed to be American football and basketball players.”
For Chavez Jr., the topic of amateur boxing hits a little closer to home.
"I was not sure I wanted to be boxer at first and started working out during late 2002 and early 2003,” said Chavez, Jr. “I lived in the United States in Riverside, California and when I went back home to Culiacan (Mexico), I went to my father’s gym and told my uncles I wanted to be boxer. We did not have an amateur program so I just jumped into the professional ranks. If I had to do it all over again, I would have started in the amateurs to learn more. It was hard being a professional without any experience and it really was difficult to learn to fight in the professional ranks. It was a lot tougher than I expected."
"My father did not want me to fight and my mother did not want me to fight. My father made a deal with my grandmother and she said would let me have 10 professional fights and if I lost one that would be the end of it. I made the same deal with my father, so went I went undefeated after those 10 fights he had no choice but to let me continue fighting and from then on he has supported my boxing career."
"Having my father with me in training is like having a master at your side. He will correct me and will give me advice, but he lets my trainers do their work. He just wants me to do the things right and is always talking (about) the importance of good preparation. He is always saying that fights are won in training and that if are your well prepared, the fights will be easy."
"We have become more like friends. I know that he is my father and I do respect him, but when we talk boxing now it is as equals and that has made our relationship much better. He has also cleaned up his act and that makes him more enjoyable to be around and keeps me more focused on my career. He deserves a lot of credit for the victory I will claim over Martínez on September 15."
24/7 Chavez Jr./Martinez debuts Sat., Sept. 1 at 11:45pm ET/PT on HBO.
Chavez Jr. vs. Martinez takes place Sat., Sept. 15 live on HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT.