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Hector Camacho Jr talks exhibition with Julio Cesar Chavez Sr

The junior Camacho meets the senior Chavez in an exhibition Saturday in Mexico.

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Rosita Gutierrez Antonio

There’s a logjam of content available to boxing fans on Saturday, with marquee names like Teofimo Lopez, Naoya Inoue, and Jermall Charlo topping cards.

There’s another card headlined with some bold-faced names on it, and is going to snag more eyeballs away from Triller, ESPN, and PBC than some would assume. In Mexico, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr will do battle in an exhibition pitting him against Hector Camacho Jr.

The exhibition trend is proceeding, and the offering will be joined by a tango putting MMA notable Anderson Silva in a pugilism contest against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Most of these exhibitions we’ve been seeing since Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr in November function as a result of a mixed-bag reality — that name recognition is king, and that the power of a known name, even one on the back nine of a career, can be a more potent lure than fights featuring “better” athletes, in their prime. We gravitate to that which we are familiar.

And the Saturday collection of bouts, which will play out in Estadio Jalisco, has names you know. Like “Alvarez.” Nope, not Canelo, it’s his brother Ramon facing another Chavez, Omar, in a middleweight battle.

This past Saturday, a pep rally to promote the event played out in Mexico, and things got a wee bit chippy at the gathering. Surprisingly, maybe, the drama came courtesy of Chavez Sr, the God of fists from Culiacan, who is 58 years old and last fought a pro fight in 2005. He looks fit and trim, and not just for his age, either.

The all-time great did a staredown with Camacho Jr, the 42-year-old New York native. He’s the son of the late wildcard fighting pride of Spanish Harlem, Hector “Macho” Camacho. They jawed, and Camacho raised his left hand, making a pointing gesture, as he spoke. The Hall of Fame inductee wasn’t having it; Chavez pushed Camacho, and immediately the emcee chirped, “Tranquilo, tranquilo,” asking the gents to chill. They simmered down right quick, and the event proceeded.

I reached out to Camacho to get his side of that beefing.

“It was cool,” Camacho told me. “Got love out here in Mexico. Even though I was surprised when Chavez pushed me. But hey, it’s fight time come Saturday. He didn’t like the fact that I called him old. And I wasn’t trying to hear his old stories of how great he is. I’m here for my father’s legacy and my legacy. I told him I love and respect his legacy. This is an exhibition, not a fight. So there was no need to push. I’m not trying to go in there and knock you out. I’ll leave that for one of your sons if they got balls to go in with me.”

But will we truly see a polite exhibition, or one could tip toward a more heated encounter?

“I don’t know. There’s no going back now. I’m in a no-win situation,” Camacho said. “If I put it on him, then I beat an elder. If he looks good, then I’m not shit. But I’m relaxed now. Thinking about it, he is my father’s friend. He’s a legend, somebody who I looked up to. I’m just going to go off his energy. If he comes in to throw hard punches as if it was a fight, I will match his intensity.”

Seems sensible to me. Camacho spoke a bit more about the friendship between his father and Chavez Sr, who met in the ring in 2001, with Camacho Sr winning a decision.

“They hung out every time. In fact, after their fight, my father came down to Mexico and stayed one week with Julio in his house. The stories they have! Straight party. But like I told Julio, that’s you and my father. You were friends, not me and you. I look up to you as one of boxing’s greats. Same way I respect you, I expect the same respect back.”

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