LOS ANGELES -- As he gets ready to return to the ring, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. says he is a more mature man after learning a few lessons along the way.
Chavez Jr. admitted his defeat against Sergio Martinez was a wake-up call.
"I learned to take better care of myself, physically and mentally," said Chavez Jr. "I took too many fights for someone like me that needs to drop all the way down to 160 pounds by dieting and making a lot of sacrifices. Doing it four times in a year really took a toll on me. It hurt me and I wasn't in prime condition against Martinez. I learned to space out my fights, cut it down a little bit."
The former 160-pound titlist (46-1-1, 32 KOs) said his defeat also allowed him to go back to the basics, which once led him to the top of the middleweight class.
"Training at the proper hours [is important]," said Chavez. "Having all kind of weight issues took a mental toll on me, and that led me to train after hours. I didn't feel like doing things, I was weak. A lot of things happened, but I learned my lessons."
That's why Chavez Jr. said his Sept. 28 fight against Texan Brian Vera (23-6, 14 KOs) at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., marks the beginning of Stage 2 of his pro career.
"The first [stage] brought a lot of learning along the way," said Chavez. "After a year away, I'm back inside a ring against an opponent that might be low-profile, but he is also really dangerous since he is in his prime."
For the fight with Vera, Chavez will have Vladimir Baldenebro as the lead man in his corner.
"It's not really a change of trainers because Vladimir has been with me for nine years," Chavez said. "Freddie Roach was the most famous name in my corner, but Vladimir has always been there. He got the call to be the leading man since Freddie is currently busy training both Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto."
Chavez also said that he and Roach will work together again after the Vera fight and that there are no issues between the two of them.
"We've talked for like 20 minutes about boxing. We were cool, and Freddie said that all the after-hours training happened only for the Martinez fight," said Chavez, referring to what was aired on HBO's "24/7" reality series.
For the upcoming fight, Baldenebro focused on bringing back key elements that made Chavez successful that were not used against Martinez, such as the left-handed hook and more punching power.
"We are doing things my style," said Chavez. "Freddie gave me more explosiveness, but the working atmosphere with Vladimir is more like family, and we know what to do by just looking into each other's eyes."
Chavez will also have his father, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., as a member of his team, performing a more active role in his corner.
"It will be better, because he will no longer be yelling stuff at the top of his lungs from a distance, he will be able to say those things closer and using a softer tone," Chavez Jr. said of his Hall of Fame father. "Honestly, it was the right decision because his habits were a bit distracting for us. It was not good at all."
Chavez hasn't fought since last September, although he believes being away from the ring for that long will not eventually backfire against him.
"Let’s hope it doesn't since I still have a long life left in boxing," Chavez said. "We'll see what happens, but I feel in great shape."
He also said he will remain in the middleweight division only to face specific opponents.
"I will go down to 160 if there are good fights on the table, like the rematch against Martinez, or a clash against Gennady Golovkin," Chavez said. "Otherwise, I will fight at 168, against Sakio Bika or Andre Ward. Those fights are really appealing, but first we must take care of Vera."