Many are calling this Saturday’s fight a steppingstone for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. This will be his first title fight (Sat., 10 p.m. ET, HBO), and should he win impressively, it would likely be a gateway to bigger names.
Not many steppingstones are undefeated, though, and that’s what current middleweight title holder, and Chavez’s opponent, Sebastian Zbik is. The German-born fighter is 30-0 and presents challenges for the similarly undefeated Chavez (42-0-1).
“I think he’s a real good boxer,” Chavez said. “He’s a real strong guy. He’s a champion. He’s undefeated. I expect that this is going to be the toughest fight of my career, and that’s why preparation has been so good. We know we have a tough opponent.”
Knowing this, Chavez has had a longer training camp. It is that type of hard work and dedication that made his father, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., a legend and a six-time world champion. Now that Chavez Jr. is looking for his first, it is also a chance to make his own name.
Beyond that, names like Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez have been talked about as future opponents. Chavez grew up watching big names take on other big names, and he imagined having that chance someday. If he overlooks Zbik, however, he may not be afforded that opportunity.
“Yeah, it’s real tough not to think about what’s ahead because of fights that I want,” he admitted. “I’ve been dreaming about fighting top guys for years. First things first, though; get through June 4, then look ahead.”
Trainer Freddie Roach — who has trained some of the sport’s best, including Manny Pacquiao — sees greatness in Chavez.
“It will be great to win the world title. It will make his father proud and make me proud,” Roach said. “I know Julio is in great shape to do that, and he has done everything he can to be ready for this fight. Everything I have asked him to do, he has responded very well. Julio is a great person, and he’ll be great for the sport to be champion. I think he will hold the title well, and he’ll defend it well.”