Here's WBC middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr talking about his November 19 defense against Peter Manfredo Jr, during a Houston press conference. The fight will take place at Reliant Arena in Houston, live on HBO.
"I know that I have a very tough fight on the 19th. Manfredo is world ranked, top (?) in the world, and he's coming in on a nice winning streak. Once you become a world champion, you accept the responsibility of training hard, getting better. I want to be a world champion for a long time. That's why I'm preparing myself the best that I can. I've been working out almost three months for this fight. I have never trained this hard for a fight."
Of course, Chavez hasn't really been training three months for this fight -- he was supposed to fight Ronald Hearns on September 17, against the wishes of Top Rank, his Mexican promoters, Freddie Roach, and, well, everyone on earth. Instead he stuck his hand in a ceiling fan and pulled out of the fight with a knuckle injury. Some, including Hearns' promoter Lou DiBella (who also promotes Manfredo), just assumed that Chavez was out of shape and had no hope of making weight. He was working without Roach, and without strength and conditioning guru Alex Ariza, who very publicly gave up on the camp.
Chavez (43-0-1, 30 KO) won the WBC belt in June from Sebastian Zbik in a fight that few took seriously as a title bout, after the WBC, with some strange "help" from HBO, basically lifted the belt off of Sergio Martinez a few months prior, when HBO refused to air Martinez vs Zbik (instead they aired Martinez vs Dzinziruk, which drew 0% more attention), though for some reason Zbik vs Chavez was good enough, even though neither had ever been featured on the network.
Manfredo (37-6, 20 KO) is a tough battler, a well-known fringe contender for years now who has been overwhelmed in steps up against Joe Calzaghe and Sakio Bika. But those fights were at 168 pounds, where Manfredo was always a little small and underpowered, and I don't think it's any stretch to say that Chavez is no Calzaghe, and probably isn't even on Bika's level.
I know some won't look forward to this one, but I'm interested to see what happens here. It should be at worst a fairly entertaining fight, and I think Manfredo has a legitimate shot to get the win if the judging is on the level. Chavez may hold a bogus belt, but I see the two at about the same level, and if I expanded my middleweight rankings, yeah, I'd have Manfredo a couple spots higher than Junior. Chavez has to be considered the favorite due to boxing being boxing (you know what I mean), but I expect it to be a good fight.
Now if you want to argue that Chavez vs Manfredo isn't good enough for HBO...