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Can Roach turn Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. into a super star?

By Dan Ambrose: Freddie Roach gets a lot of credit for the job that he’s done on fighters like Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan, although the jury is still out on Khan because he still hasn’t fought a top light welterweight that’s worth mentioning.

Roach is also considered a genius just based on what he did with Pacquiao. Because of the good work that he did with Pacquiao, Roach is getting more and more struggling fighters coming to his Wild Card Gym in LA to try and save their careers. One of those fighters is unbeaten middleweight contender and World Boxing Council Silver middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (41-0-1, 30 KO’s), who will be facing welterweight contender Alfonso Gomez (22-4-2, 11 KO’s) at the Honda Center, in Anaheim, California.

Roach has only worked with Chavez Jr. for one partial training camp before his fight with fringe middleweight contender John Duddy last June. Chavez Jr. responded to the training by easily beating Duddy by a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision.

Some of the credit has to go to Roach for making some changes to Chavez’s game and to his physique with the help of his strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza. However, Duddy is a pretty limited fighter, after all, and was nearly beaten by 2nd tier middleweight Walid Smichet in 2008.

Chavez wants to take on Pacquiao in the near future for a big money fight. It’s kind of a silly fight and most boxing fans would likely be turned off at the thought of this fight happening.

However, Chavez Jr. has the luck of fighting for Bob Arum, the same promoter as Pacquiao. As we’ve seen, Arum likes to pit his Top Rank fighters against each other rather than having them take on fighters from outside his stable.

Since Arum only has a small handful of fighters that boxing fans really care about, it’s likely that Arum will match Chavez Jr. against Pacquiao in the near future unless Chavez gets beaten up by someone.

Chavez Jr. has been spoon fed for his entire seven year pro career with his best opponent being the badly flawed Duddy. If I was to rank where Chavez Jr. is in the line of top middleweights, I would put him around number 16 or 17.

I think that’s a good ranking for him, because there’s some fighters that I think Chavez Jr. will never be able to beat like Sergio Martinez, Paul Williams, Gennady Golovkin, Felix Sturm, Kelly Pavlik, Dmitriy Pirog and Sebastian Sylvester. However, you can never count out what Roach is capable of doing with a fighter.

But if Roach is going to mold Chavez Jr. into a super star fighter, he’s going to have to make some major changes to Chavez’s game because he’s too wide open on defense, has poor stamina, moves like his feet are stuck in quicksand, and doesn’t have huge power.

I’m skeptical about Roach being able to budge Chavez Jr. for more than two or three places upwards in the rankings. I can’t see Chavez Jr. ever being a top five middleweight, even though the WBC has for some reason decided to rank Chavez Jr. at number 1 despite the fact that he has only one win over a top 15 opponent, and that was against Duddy.

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