The future is suddenly bright again for Julio Cesar Chavez.
One fight into his comeback, Chavez found he still has the adulation of his fans. And he’s being promised another fight with Oscar De La Hoya, even sooner than he thinks.
“Three more fights and I’ll be ready for De La Hoya again,” Chavez said Saturday night after stopping Joey Gamache at the end of the eighth round in his first fight since being beaten by De La Hoya.
Promoter Bob Arum doesn’t want Chavez to wait that long. Arum said Chavez will fight twice more before meeting De La Hoya in a late April or early May rematch.
“We’ll probably have the rematch April 22 or in early May,” Arum said. “This fight needs to happen again.”
De La Hoya, working the pay-per-view telecast of Saturday’s fight as an interested observer, was given the microphone and the chance to interview Chavez after the fight.
What he got out of Chavez wasn’t memorable. What he told Chavez, he may dispute.
“He said I was very handsome,” a laughing Chavez said.
De La Hoya was booed roundly by the pro-Chavez crowd of 10,344 at the Pond of Anaheim, who were there solely for the reason of seeing the legendary Mexican fighter in action.
De La Hoya, who stopped Chavez in the fourth round June 7, has never been a favorite of the Hispanic fans, despite his Mexican-American heritage.
Chavez is, though, as evidenced by the fans who waved Mexican flags and cheered every punch as he wore down Gamache and finally stopped him at the end of the eighth round of a scheduled 10-round fight.
“It was a difficult fight,” Chavez said. “I was coming in at about 75 percent.”
That showed in the 146 pounds Chavez weighed - matching the heaviest of his career - following months of turmoil that included his wife filing for divorce and a warrant being issued for his arrest in Mexico on tax evasion charges.
The $1.5 million Chavez earned Saturday night was to go to help settle those tax charges, and Chavez joked about his wife, saying she hits harder than either Gamache or De La Hoya.
“I had a lot of problems before this fight,” Chavez said.
“Chavez is a legend,” Gamache said. “He’s systematic and he wears you down. He’s still a very dangerous guy.”
Chavez, who now has 98 wins in 101 fights, will fight Mickey Ward on Dec. 8 in San Antonio, then fight again on the Jan. 18 card where De La Hoya will defend his junior welterweight title against Miguel Angel Gonzalez.