Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain is the greatest Mexican boxing trainer in history. You could make the argument that he is the sport’s greatest living trainer, although, at 77, the Hall of Famer is not as active as he once was.
But he will return to action this Cinco De Mayo Weekend, in one of the year’s biggest events. He will be in the corner for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., when the legend’s son meets superstar Canelo Alvarez.
Chavez and Beristain are an odd couple to be sure. Chavez has always done his best to approximate the style of his great father, the classic “Mexican Style” of coming forward and wearing an opponent down. It is a style that relies on durability and power, as well as machismo and guts.
Beristain’s greatest students have been departures from the national type. Nacho is a relentless task master who drills his charges until they respond instinctively to his commands from the corner. His two greatest champions have been Ricardo Lopez and Juan Manuel Marquez, outstanding technical fighters and brilliant, if aggressive, counter punchers.
Marquez, the greatest Mexican fighter of this century, has shown the traditional Mexican qualities of durability and courage. But the ring generalship he developed under Beristain has been the ingredient that made him into a legend.
The two qualities every great Beristain-trained fighter has had are intelligence and discipline. Neither of these have been hallmarks of Chavez Jr.’s career. I have my doubts about him suddenly developing them now, in his mid-20s, after an entire lifetime of luxury and privilege.
Chavez already washed out with another Hall of Fame trainer, Freddie Roach. I have no particular insight into their relationship together, but just based on what could be gleamed from 24/7, it appeared that Chavez approached training with Roach with all the discipline of a college sophomore preparing for finals–which is to say, smoking weed and sleeping late the entire time.
Maybe an older and wiser Chavez is working now with Beristain. The old professor at least adds an interesting detail to the storyline.