Chavez will knock out a mean dish

Julio César Chávez, the beloved boxing legend from Mexico, plans a namesake entertainment and restaurant venue in Mesa, Arizona.

Julio César Chávez Campeones – or Champions in English – whose slogan is ‘Family Food, Fun, Music and Entertainment’, could open by June, according to restaurant and Mesa officials.

It is expected to be among the first of several Campeones across the US that will feature his name.

The group planning the restaurant on the southwest corner of Country Club Drive and Southern Avenue includes Brian Weymouth, a managing partner of the popular Alice Cooperstown in downtown Phoenix, and Brian Day O’Conner, the son of former US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner.

‘It’s going to be like Dave & Buster’s meets ESPN Zone meets Planet Hollywood,’ Weymouth said. There is a chance that a Chavez restaurant in Las Vegas could open first.

Weymouth, president of Julio César Chávez Entertainment, the umbrella company for the 46-year-old fighter’s business interests, said the group chose Mesa over Phoenix for its large Hispanic demographic.

‘We’re definitely going to open there,’ he said. ‘It’s depending on how we feel about doing Mesa first or Vegas first. We’re still working through Mesa. We found them to be very cooperative and really excited about the concept.’

Mesa officials feel the restaurant is a major score for the city, boosting the area’s profile.

‘It could be a major tourist draw, I think, both regional and statewide,’ a spokesman said.

Chávez is a national hero in Mexico. During his career he won six world titles in three weight divisions and ended his career with 108 wins, only 6 losses, 2 draws and scored 87 knock outs.

In 2007, ESPN ranked him boxing’s 24th best fighter of all time. In 2003, Ring Magazine ranked him No.18 out of the top 80 boxers from the last 80 years.

Hector Gomez, a Mesa resident out shopping Friday at Murrieta’s Carniceria, said he thinks Campeones will be a huge draw among Arizona’s nearly two million Hispanics.

‘Man, that’s for sure,’ he said. ‘That thing is going to be big.’

The 30,000-square-foot restaurant will feature a boxing theme, a 1,500-person concert hall, a retail store selling boxing-related merchandise, a gallery or museum featuring memorabilia from Chávez’s career and big screen televisions broadcasting boxing matches and major sporting events.

The site where the restaurant will go was once a Home Depot and several other businesses before becoming vacant.

City officials likened Campeones to other destination restaurant and entertainment venues such as the planned Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill.

‘It’s going to be very much similar to that same scale of that entertainment franchise, and if you know anything about Julio César Chávez, he’s very huge,’ said Cathy Ji, a city economic development specialist.

Maggie Baca, a manager at Botas Juarez Western Wear next door to Campeones, already knows that.

‘He is a big deal,’ she said. ‘And most Hispanic people – Latinos – know him.’

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