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Chavez Jr. and Fonfara expect fireworks

Both Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. and Andrzej Fonfara believe they'll have the upper hand when the two face off in the ring.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

Team Fonfara believe that they couldn't have found a better match-up for their fighter when Chavez Jr's name was brought up as a potential opponent.

"Before we picked Chavez, they offered me other names, and I said no. But as soon as they said Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., I said let's do it," said Sam Colona, trainer of former title challenger Andrzej Fonfara (26-3, 15 knockouts), who will be Chavez's opponent on April 18 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT). "He has the perfect style for us. He comes straight to us. It's going to be a great fight for Andrej, to show the power and the dedication he has."

One thing that Julio has never been accused of is having dedication to the sport of boxing. But Chavez Jr., who will be making his debut on Showtime, feels Fonfara is a great match-up for him as well, so this may end up being an excellent fight where both fighters believe they have the upper hand stylistically.

"I feel good, I feel fresh again. I stayed in the gym every day, training, working on my skills. I am really confident," said Chavez Jr., who will be returning to the ring after a layoff of more than a year. "I know Fonfara is a tough fighter, but I felt good in training and I am ready."

But for Fonfara, he wasn't going to let his trainer do all the talking, and said that although this is a big fight for him, he's going to take the same workman-like approach to this fight as he would any other.

"I think Chavez Jr. is a great fighter, he is a great champion," said the Polish fighter, now living in Chicago. "Physically I feel good, I trained my harder for this fight and I am a better boxer. Chavez trained hard for this fight, but I always train for my fights, whether I fight with Chavez or anybody else."

This fight will essentially be a light heavyweight bout (specifically 172lbs) for Chavez, who is well known to blow up in between fights and not take his training regiment all that seriously - but with new trainer Joe Goossen in the corner, they expect that to be a thing of the past.

"Julio is very, very serious about this fight. He is very dedicated to this fight, both mentally and physically," said Goossen about his new charge. "He showed me he is willing to work very hard for this fight, and it always works out well when a fighter cooperates in training, and he is doing that at 110 percent. I know his father very well and I am very honored to be part of the team. I can't wait to display all of Julio's talents. With the way Julio is training I am very confident with what I we're doing right now."

Despite the criticism about Chavez Jr.'s weight, he insists that this fight at 172 is fair game for both men (since Fonfara is a natural 175-pounder and Chavez says he's really a 168lb fighter).

"I think the fight is in the right weight and there will be no advantage for anybody. The weight is very good for both fighters. This fight is (at) 172 (pounds), and since I don't have to force myself to make weight I don't feel the inactivity," said Chavez, who indicated that he focused his training "more on the physical aspect," likely to regain strength and confidence after his long layoff. "After this fight I will go back at 168 and take one or two years to move to 175. Right now I am still a 168-pound fighter, but because I took a one year off is that I fight at 172. In all of my career in boxing, in 12 years, I never missed weight."

Let's be clear, perhaps Chavez Jr.'s optimal fighting weight could be at 168, but him declaring himself a clear 168lb fighter is a bit off the mark for now. I'm quite sure it's been at least a year since he's last tipped the scales at that mark and lately it seems that they're just setting the weight limits to whatever they think he can dwindle down to in a training camp. But when you have some name value, you also get these kind of luxuries.

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