Former middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s return to the ring from a 13-month layoff is set.
The son of legendary Mexican icon and Hall of Famer Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. will face contender Andrzej Fonfara in a 12-round light heavyweight fight on April 18 (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET) at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, Goossen Promotions announced on Monday.
The bout is contracted at a maximum weight of 172 pounds, three under the light heavyweight limit.
"Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Andrzej Fonfara are two of the hardest punching boxers in the sport," said Tom Brown of Goossen Promotions, which doesn't promote either fighter but is putting on the event. "This fight will be an epic battle of wills and will add another chapter to the long list of outstanding fights that have taken place at the StubHub Center."
Since losing his middleweight belt by one-sided decision to then-lineal champion Sergio Martinez in September 2012, Chavez, who tested positive for marijuana and was suspended for nine months after the fight, has fought just twice -- once in 2013 and once in 2014 - both decision victories against Bryan Vera, including a highly controversial one in their first meeting.
After the second Vera fight Chavez signed with adviser Al Haymon and ditched career-long promoter Top Rank, whose chairman, Bob Arum, claims Chavez, 29, owes the company one more fight and is suing him over the matter.
Regardless, the fight with Fonfara is moving forward at this point and Chavez (48-1-1, 32 KOs), who has been heavily criticized for his lackadaisical approach to training, said he is looking forward to fighting again as he moves up to light heavyweight. The fight will be his first under the guidance of trainer Joe Goossen.
"I'm excited to get back in the ring and remind everyone that I'm one of the best fighters in the world," Chavez said. "I have a tough test on April 18, but I am going to pass with flying colors and I look forward to taking on any challengers after that."
Goossen, who has known Chavez for years, said the two have been working together for a couple of weeks at his Southern California gym and that Chavez is taking the fight seriously.
"So serious that I would say that a training camp is in the cards where we go away," Goossen told ESPN.com. "There are always people who ask, 'If you could train any fighter who would you want to train?' I always wanted to work with Julio. His style is exactly the style I love and it turns out that now I'm training him.
"I'm very flattered and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make sure he has a great camp. That's my objective."
After seven consecutive fights on HBO since 2011, Chavez will be making his debut on Showtime, where Haymon regularly does business; HBO has banned his fights from the network because of its issues with his negotiating style.
"As a fight fan, I love watching Julio fight. As a network executive, I'm thrilled for him to make his Showtime debut on April 18," said Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president & general manager of Showtime Sports. "Julio is one of the most exciting and popular boxers in the sport today, and with a new team behind him, we expect big things from him in 2015. But Andrzej Fonfara is a real test, and he's proven he's not intimidated by any opponent."
Fonfara (26-3, 15 KOs), 27, a native of Poland living in Chicago, lost an unexpectedly competitive decision in a tremendous action fight challenging light heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson last May and then rebounded for a 10-round unanimous decision win against Doudou Ngumbu in November.
"This is another great opportunity for me and I'm very thankful to have it," said Fonfara, who is also advised by Haymon. "I've been in there with the best fighters in the world and as always I'm going to try to put on a show for the fans and walk out victorious."