Throughout his 50-plus fight career, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has held multiple titles while competing in numerous weight classes while carrying on the legacy of one of the most famous families in the sport of boxing.
He’s only tasted defeat five times during his career with one of those losses coming in a 12-round decision to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who is routinely regarded as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world today.
So it was a bit surprising when Chavez Jr. had his next fight booked on June 19 with the opponent set to stand across the ring from him none other than former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
While Silva’s credentials in mixed martial arts have made him one of the greatest fighters in the history of combat sports, he’s only boxed professionally on two prior occasions with his last bout coming all the way back in 2005. At 46, Silva is also assuredly at the tail end of his legendary career but rather than just fight anybody, he chose to face an experienced foe like Chavez Jr. in his return to boxing.
“I’m surprised,” Chavez Jr. told MMA Fighting when asked for his reaction when he found out Silva was going to be his next opponent. “Not for Anderson Silva but a lot of UFC fighters come to fight in boxing. I’m a little surprised that Anderson Silva took this challenge.
“At the same time, the fight is eight rounds, it’s at 180 pounds and that’s better for him. That makes the fight more even and the other thing Anderson Silva fights two or three times in boxing. So he knows how to box. I think it’s another level but I’m never [overconfident] because I never fought at 180 pounds and I never fought eight rounds. I’m better than him. I’m a better fighter. I can beat him because I’m the [better] fighter but I’m not overconfident at all.”
Truth be told, Chavez Jr. wasn’t all that familiar with Silva when his name was first mentioned as a possible opponent after he was added to a card that will feature his father, Julio Cesar Chavez in an exhibition bout against Hector Camacho Jr.
“They said Anderson Silva wants to fight you. So I never [saw] Anderson Silva fight in the UFC because it’s too old,” Chavez Jr. said. “I know he’s a legend. I respect him. I think it’s a very interesting fight. These days, that’s the most important thing. I think it’s a very good fight.
“I hear his name. Not a lot because I think he’s 45, 46 and I’m 35. I remember when the UFC started hearing his name but not too much. I know who he is. He’s a great fighter.”
It’s hard to anticipate how Silva will approach this boxing match, especially considering the long odds he’s facing to come away victorious while facing an opponent with so much more experience than him.
That said, Chavez Jr. isn’t looking at Silva as an easy fight because there are so many variables that could cost him the win than he refuses to discount the dangers the Brazilian presents for him.
“I expect a good athlete,” Chavez Jr. said. “A guy, he knows what he’s doing. He’s not a great boxer but he knows boxing. He might try to pressure me or put his weight [on me] and throw hard punches.
“But I think I’m too skilled for him. I’m expecting a hard fight for the first three or four rounds but after that I think the UFC fighters don’t have the [capacity] for making a disciplined fight. That’s the difference.”
Of course, Silva isn’t the first MMA fighter to take a stab at boxing in recent years but he undoubtedly faces an uphill climb to beat Chavez Jr. much less keep the fight competitive through all eight rounds.
Conor McGregor managed to make it to the 10th round for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, although many boxing purists believe that was largely due to the undefeated boxer allowing the UFC superstar to survive that long.
McGregor would argue that he was giving as good as he was getting against Mayweather until he ran out of steam in the latter part of the fight.
Chavez Jr. has already offered his prediction that he doesn’t expect Silva to survive beyond the fourth round, although he’s ready to throw hands with him until the final bell if that’s what it takes to win.
“I think the knockout is a great possibility in that fight,” Chavez Jr. said. “Because it’s [180 pounds], the day of the fight, both will weigh 190 or 200, so it’s a heavyweight fight.
“I don’t know how he can take my punches. I feel I can knock him out. I’m not confident in only one punch but breaking him down, go to the body and head and I think I have a lot of possibilities to knockout him.”