"You know, that's one of those loaded questions. It's never easy, you know, and I don't think it's that easy for any fighter, especially when you're 6'2", you fight at 160 pounds, and you haven't fought in a year. But we've had plenty of time to start. I don't know, dude, I saw the picture; it looks like a bad picture to me. It doesn't look like the Julio that I have here. I mean, you've seen a thousand pictures of people that just are bad pictures. But he does; he looks huge [in the picture], but I'm here with him now and I can tell you now that we're not 200 pounds...We're 100% confident of that because right now, like I said, we have about 7 weeks and that's more time than I've ever had to train Julio. He's never been irresponsible; he's always made the weight," stated world-class Strength & Conditioning coach Alex Ariza, who gave us an update how training is going as he prepares former middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for his anticipated return to the ring on September 7 when he face Bryan Vera. Check it out!
BT: What's good Alex? You've been in Mexico for a while now, so I take it you're deep into training with Julio already.
AA: Yeah, we have already started training.
BT: His fight with Vera is at a catchweight of 165 pounds. A photo recently surfaced that showed Julio looking a lot bigger than people are accustomed to seeing him. Is it going to be more difficult than normal for you to get him down in weight?
AA: You know, that's one of those loaded questions. It's never easy, you know, and I don't think it's that easy for any fighter, especially when you're 6'2", you fight at 160 pounds, and you haven't fought in a year. But we've had plenty of time to start. I don't know, dude, I saw the picture; it looks like a bad picture to me. It doesn't look like the Julio that I have here. I mean, you've seen a thousand pictures of people that just are bad pictures. But he does; he looks huge [in the picture], but I'm here with him now and I can tell you now that we're not 200 pounds.
BT: So you're confident that come September 6th, when it's time to step up the scales, Julio will be right on the money at 165?
AA: We're 100% confident of that because right now, like I said, we have about 7 weeks and that's more time than I've ever had to train Julio. He's never been irresponsible; he's always made the weight. Now people want to make a big deal on the outside of that, but the bottom line is did he make the weight and did he put on a good performance for you, minus the Martinez fight? He did show up, right?
BT: Yeah, minus the Martinez fight, he definitely delivered.
AA: I mean, he had Zbik, one of the biggest fights that was shown; look at his fight with Manfredo, his fight with Rubio. I mean, those are the some of the best action-packed fights that he has. So it's never going to be easy for us to make weight, as per se the word easy, but the question is, is him making weight effecting his performance? That should be the question instead of everybody complaining about and crying that he's overweight or how hard it's going to be to make weight. Is he disappointing when he shows up in the ring? Again, minus the Martinez fight, and even that he closed it out pretty decent. So despite all the troubles, and all the problems that we had in camp, and all the interference that he had, and everybody just disrupting the camp, you know, he still managed to make weight and come out and perform. If you just look at his history, we always make weight and we always show up and we perform well.
BT: He hasn't fought in basically like a year now. Is there any concern about that or about getting back into the flow of your program?
AA: Of course, bro. It's not easy. I'm telling you now; I'm being straight with you. It's not easy. It's been hard these last two weeks. I mean, last week was hard, this week is getting easier. You know, we deal with the moods that are up and down. The training is never hard, the dieting is never hard, but, you know, he's getting to eat a lot more than he has in the past, he's training a lot harder than he has in the past; we're dealing with sweltering heat out here, you know. I mean, there's a lot of things that's just going to toughen him up, whether you like it or you don't. You train here in Culiacan and it feels like it's Africa out here. You have to train it, bro; you will get tough. You know, it will harden you. So he's suffering through the morning workouts, he's suffering through the evening workout, but, you know, I think everything that's coming out and all the bad publicity, I think it motivates him. It keeps him fired up.
BT: Knowing that it has been a long time since he's been active like this, is there anything that you had to do differently or maybe alter as far as your program and your game plan for cutting the weight is concerned?
AA: Yes, but in a good way because I've never had 8 weeks before. You know, we're just now starting into our second week, we still have 7 weeks, so I've never had this much time. So the thing for me is just now I don't have to kill him with everything. I'm not under pressure; I'm not under time constraints. I have 8 whole weeks, so now I get to work with my team; Teri Tom obviously, Henry Marchena, everybody's working together now. We have a chef here, you know, Hector. The same team is all here together, we're all working, we all know what we have to do. It's a good thing and a bad thing because when you have that much time, short-term goals are easier to reach than long-term goals. Sometimes, you know, the fighter starts getting in his head, "Well, I have 7 weeks, but that's such a long time." I keep telling him let's just take advantage of this time now so we can take advantage of the rest of the time once we get to a certain comfortable weight. So yeah, you know, right now, these next few weeks until we get into August is just really about getting back into shape and getting that weight off.
BT: Like I said, the fight is at 165, which is closer to 168 than it is to 160. After this fight, would you prefer for him to get back down to 160 or do you think now might be the time where he has to move up to 168?
AA: That's a great question because everybody always says Julio can't do this or Julio can't do that. You don't know what Julio can or can't do unless you do a body composition, so you can't tell me what he can or can't do. I can't tell you what he can or can't do unless we do one [body composition], and we did one, and the numbers don't lie. The 160 pounds is there to make. I mean, when you do the fat to mass ratio, it's definitely there to make. It's like he said himself in his interview, why force myself to fight at 160 pounds if it's not for a title? If I can fight at 165, then of course I'm going to take advantage of the extra 5 pounds, but if you give me a title at 160, then I'll make 160. So it makes sense. But again, the numbers don't lie. The 160 pounds is there. It's up to him if he wants to sit there and dedicate himself to that weight class or move up to 168. It's entirely up to him, but from what I see now, he's set at the 160-pound division.
BT: That's what I was getting at. I know a lot of times, fighters will eventually outgrow a weight class and they just can't make the weight anymore. I didn't know if that might be the case with Julio.
AA: Again, when you have a big layoff; I mean, you gotta remember, dude, we're still talking about a kid that's only 26 years old, 27 years old, so you don't expect him to have the strictest lifestyle in the world. He's a young, rich, famous kid; he likes to go out, he likes to eat. I mean, he's no different than nobody else out there, so I think it's just so funny that these people crucify him. I mean, he's no different than anybody else. Fuck, even trainers; I know I blow up in weight here and there. I see picture of myself and say, "Damn!" Again, the numbers don't lie. If the numbers are there and the weight is there for you to make, and you know it because of the numbers, then it's really up to you, and only you can decide yourself if you want to dedicate yourself to a program and get yourself to that. I think one of the greatest examples that I think I've seen right now, that I even showed Julio, is Mark Munoz from the UFC. You know, he blew up to 260 pounds and he fights at 185. It just goes to show you the difference in writers in the different sports. Instead of condemning him and just talking mad shit about him all the time, they praised him and they gave him support. It just goes to show you how boxing is, you know, and it's sad. They love to sit there and trash you and bring you down, and those same people will be the ones clamoring at the door to talk to him and get an interview.
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