Oscar de la Hoya, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. Rivals Again, This Time Outside the Ring

By Mike Sloan May 4, 2017
Oscar de la Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. might not be climbing into the ring on Saturday night to dust off their gloves and throw punches again, but their deep-rooted rivalry isn’t exactly taking a back seat to the featured attraction. Saul Alvarez will be taking on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in the main event of an HBO Pay-Per-View mega event in Las Vegas, but it’s hard not to think of Oscar and the elder Julio’s past battles.

When De la Hoya, who eventually captured world titles in six different weight classes en route to enshrinement in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, was a rising star in the sport, his path crossed with Chavez Sr. It was the perfect matchup of polar opposites: a grizzled legend beloved by millions upon millions of rabid Mexican fight fans near the end of his Hall of Fame career taking on de la Hoya, a talented knockout artist with striking good looks and never-ending charisma. Chavez was a true Mexican through and through while de la Hoya was American; he was hated by most boxing fans but desired by millions upon millions of women.

The two first locked horns in 1996 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and “The Golden Boy” tore Chavez up. Chavez entered the battle with a stunning 96-1-1 record, but he was too slow for de la Hoya and proceeded to get his face sliced to ribbons. The fight was stopped in the fourth due to cuts but since it wasn’t a true knockout, the diehard Chavez supporters demanded a rematch. It happened three years later at Thomas and Mack Center, again in Vegas, and de la Hoya punished him badly before making the legend quit on his stool between rounds six and seven.

The rivalry has subsided over the years and de la Hoya, whose Golden Boy Promotions is the lead promoter of the event, specifically Alvarez, scoffed at the notion that this can be seen as somewhat of a redemption bout for the Chavez family.

“This is ‘Canelo’ versus Chavez Jr.,” De La Hoya stated at Wednesday’s final pre-fight press conference. “We had our time. We wrote our story in the history books, and now it’s time for ‘Canelo’ and Chavez Jr. to write their chapter. I don’t see it as a real personal fight for me, but I don’t know how Chavez (Sr.) feels.”

Never one to say much about anything to the media, Chavez Sr. shrugged off the revenge theory as nothing more than that: theory or the media trying to create something out of nothing. But while “J.C. Superstar” didn’t want to entertain the notion of his son fighting de la Hoya’s biggest star, he did take at a jab at the younger man at the same press conference.

“I've lived many big moments in my life, and this is probably one of the biggest moments and fights in my life,” Chavez Sr. told the assembled media at the MGM Grand. “It's a big fight for Mexico, but I believe this a fight that can be won [by us]. Anything can be done in the ring.

“Oscar is like (Alvarez’s) father, so I guess he should feel a little nervous,” Chavez Sr. added with a laugh. “I’m feeling nervous as a father, and boxing could be won or lost in the ring.”

Regardless of whether de la Hoya and Chavez Sr. are still bitter rivals 20 years after their initial encounter inside the squared circle, there’s no denying that a ton is at stake between “Canelo” and Chavez Jr. It’s a fight for the bragging rights across Mexico and, frankly, Saturday’s featured fighters don’t really care for one another.

“The rivalry between Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. goes back a while, and it's felt by both teams,” de la Hoya stated at the presser. “Both Chavez Sr. and Jr., for some reason, don't like ‘Canelo.’ Perhaps it's because he's been the face of boxing for a while now. He's going to carry boxing on his shoulders for many years to come. Or, maybe they don't like ‘Canelo’ because he's getting more attention for this fight than Jr. is.”

De la Hoya has proclaimed that Saturday’s showdown is the biggest fight in the history of Mexican boxing. Clearly just pre-fight bluster to help boost pay-per-view sales, the matchup between “Canelo” and “JC Jr.” is an intriguing one, one that has reportedly sold 20,000-plus tickets at T-Mobile. And regardless of what Oscar or Julio Senior will tell the press, there definitely is a rivalry between the two as now, more than ever, neither wants his fighter to lose to the other.

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