- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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LAS VEGAS –- The Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. act is well known to those who have followed him closely. He beats to his own drummer and isn't particularly good at keeping to a schedule he agreed upon or training as diligently as he should. It drives his handlers crazy, especially trainer Freddie Roach.
So it's understandable why Roach has been even more irritated lately than usual.
Rather than train middleweight titlist Chavez at the Wild Card gym in Hollywood, Calif., for his showdown with lineal champion Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs) on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET, $49.95) at the Thomas & Mack Center, Roach agreed to relocate for the camp to Las Vegas and train Chavez at the Top Rank gym.
But then Chavez failed to show up to the gym when he was supposed to and Roach would wait around for him until finally heading back to his hotel room. According to Roach, Chavez (46-0-1, 32 KOs) missed at least six gym sessions over the past four weeks, not exactly a good thing when you're training for the most significant fight of your life.
"It does irritate me a little bit, but the thing is, I do wait for world champions and I do wait for Manny Pacquiao sometimes also," Roach said. "I wouldn't wait for some ordinary fighter."
But Roach, a Hall of Famer, is used to training camp drama given all he has gone through with Pacquiao over the years. With Chavez, Roach made an adjustment and decided to be the adult. He agreed to go to the house that Top Rank rented for Chavez in Las Vegas and train him there when he didn't want to come to the gym.
Chavez also doesn't keep a set schedule. There are late-night sessions that Roach is called in for, along with morning and afternoon sessions. There's just no set schedule. Whenever Chavez wants to train, Roach is there with him to get through it, day and night.
It may be disrespectful and unprofessional, but Roach has learned to be laid back about it.
"I told him we need to be more consistent in the gym and that's been better, not 100 percent," Roach said. "I have gone to the house a couple of times to work him out there. One thing about Julio, once we start working out, the workouts are very good and he does work his ass off. The times are awkward and the locations are awkward sometimes. If he wakes up at three in the morning and wants to work out, so we go."
At first Chavez's antics upset Roach.
"The first couple of times I would just go back to the hotel," Roach said. "Then he asked me to come to the house and work the mitts."
Then Roach explained how exactly they went about it since there is no ring at the house.
"I like working in the ring, but we move the couches and we have the living room," Roach said, understanding that it was comical to those listening.
Well what about moving around and knowing how far to go?
"We have imaginary ropes," Roach deadpanned.
He continued, "The workouts would be better inside a boxing ring so you can visualize it. That's why I told him we need to do the last week in the boxing ring to really get this down pat."
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has dealt with his fair share of prima donna fighters. Chavez's act is nothing new to him.
"It's different, but who's to say it's wrong," Arum said of training on a living room carpet. "Whatever works for this guy."
With Roach sitting next to him, Chavez was unapologetic for his refusal to stick to the schedule or come to the gym.
"For five years this is what I've done, this is how I train," Chavez said. "I know it's not normal, but this is how I do it. I could work right here [in an empty casino restaurant during a meeting with reporters] and know I would work just as hard as I would in any fight. I know it's not the best way to do it, but it's better to train than not to train."
He looked at Roach and smiled. Roach smiled back.