Chavez Jr. to defend title Nov. 19 at Reliant Arena, Houston, Texas
Once a boxer reaches the pinnacle of his sport and becomes champion, the grueling training doesn't stop.
World Boxing Council middleweight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the son of Hall of Fame boxer Julio Cesar Chavez, has been refining his craft as he prepares for his first title defense against Peter Manfredo Jr. on Nov. 19 at Reliant Arena.
"Physically I feel great," said Chavez (43-0-1, 30 KOs). "Everything has been good. I've been training for three months, and I have no problems.
"I know I have a very tough fight on November 19, but once you become world champion, you accept the responsibility of training hard and getting better. I want to be champion for a long time. I've never trained this hard for a fight. I want to give the people of Houston a great fight."
The fight, which is being featured on HBO's Boxing After Dark, will be Chavez's first since winning the title in a unanimous decision over Sebastian Zbik in June. His first title defense was supposed to come against Ronald Hearns, son of Thomas "Hitman" Hearns in September, but he was forced to back out because of a laceration to his hand he received from a ceiling fan.
Chavez has been trained by Freddy Roach for his last three fights and said he has noticed a difference in the way he trains now.
"I trained with my family for a long time, but it's different than training with a great trainer like Freddy Roach," Chavez said. "He has given me a lot of discipline. He has taught me a lot about being a professional. He's given me that dedication through training to get ready."
The people around him have taken notice of Chavez's increased dedication levels.
"Freddy (Roach) and Alex Ariza have both seen a new dedication in Julio," said Billy Keane, Chavez's manager. "This fight has been a completely different thing, and he has been taking it to a whole different level. He is in great shape."
Chavez said he relishes the opportunity to fight here.
"I'm very happy to be coming back as a world champion," Chavez said. "I have a lot of memories here. This is where I fought my second and third professional fights (in 2003 and 2004). Texas has been really good to me."
Manfredo (37-6, 20 KOs), the fourth-ranked middleweight contender, has won six consecutive fights.
Manfredo said he is grateful for the opportunity at the chance to win the title, but he will retire if he loses. If he wins, Manfredo said he will defend the title once, for a big payday.
"Knowing this is my last shot, I've trained extremely hard for this," said Manfredo, 30. "I'm ready to fight, and I'm ready to take this title back to little Providence, Rhode Island.
"I have the upmost respect for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who has to follow in the footsteps of his father, who is a legend. I know a lot of people talk trash about the kid, because has to be in the footsteps of his father, but to be 43-0 and a world champion, that's got to say a lot for somebody. It takes a real man to do that."
By GILBERT REQUENA, HOUSTON CHRONICLE
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