Julio Cesar Chavez, Mexican Boxing Legend, Planning Valley Restaurant

Julio Cesar Chavez is trading his boxing gloves for oven mittens.

The 46-year-old Mexican boxing legend plans to open a restaurant in Mesa at Country Club Drive and Southern Avenue as early as May or June, according to an article today in the East Valley Tribune by David Woodfill.

We surfed around till we found Chavez's Web site, and sure enough -- there was some info about his new culinary career. The site apparently needs updating, though -- the "Lion of Culiacan" says his eatery will be located on the metro Phoenix area's west side.

We thought the only thing Chavez liked about Mesa was beating Scott "Pink Cat" Walker a dozen years ago. But it turns out Chavez's business associates did some checking and found Mesa had mucho Hispanics, the Trib's article says.

 The place will be called "Campeones," (Champions) -- an apt name for the lightweight fighter whose career included 90 straight undefeated fights -- and it will "embody Mexican and Latino pride."

With "classic posters of Chavez and music featuring songs about the fighter, the restaurant will serve as a self-made shrine to Chavez. But it seems like he's also aiming for a splash of Chuck E. Cheese, with games and entertainment.

If the food is good, it might be a winner.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.

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