By Cliff Rold
The weight is over.
Clearly, it’s over 168.
It worked out as a great promotional tool in social media as many wondered if Chavez could even get down to the speculated weight of 173. He did with ounces to spare and plenty of new questions about how serious he takes his career.
There were no pink undies, cereal, and stories of living room workouts this time (at least not yet). But, after a failed drug test put him on the shelf for most of the last year, it’s enough to wonder just how much this kid wants to do the real work of being a pro.
What was originally scheduled to be a Super Middleweight fight between a Middleweight regular and a former Middle beltholder rising on the scale is now a Light Heavyweight fight. Will it be a good one?
Chavez, for all his professionalism issues, can make for fan pleasing fare. Vera is a guy who typically brings it. Based on the look of both men at the weigh-in, the weight conundrum could actually end up a boon for Vera. Chavez’s ‘will he or won’t he’ game appeared to leave him struggling just to get down. Vera looked fresh as a daisy.
Will his flower wilt when Chavez rehydrates?
Let’s go the report cards.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Previous Titles: WBC Middleweight (2011-12, 2 Defenses)
Weight: 172.4 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 159.25 lbs.
Hails from: Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico
Record: 46-1-1, 32 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 4-1, 2 KO
Rankings: #3 (ESPN), #6 (TBRB, Ring), #7 (BoxingScene)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 2 (Sebastian Zbik MD12; Sergio Martinez L12)
Title/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 171.2 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 160.55 lbs.
Hails from: Austin, Texas
Record: 23-6, 14 KO, 2 KOBY
Rankings: #9 (Boxing Scene)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 2 (Sergio Mora SD10, MD12; Sergiy Dzinziruk TKO10)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Chavez B; Vera B-
Pre-Fight: Power – Chavez B+; Vera B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Chavez B-; Vera C
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Chavez B; Vera B
It’s amazing how close Chavez came to winning the real Middleweight crown without really trying last September. Had he prepared the way he should have, he might have pulled it off. He doesn’t have a Sergio Martinez in front of him Saturday night.
Vera is instead a grizzled, experienced veteran who is steady where others are spectacular. His present win streak of four fights points to that. He wore down former Jr. Middleweight titlist Sergiy Dzinziruk by chipping away all night and keeping him hurt. In the Sergio Mora rematch, the judges (in Texas, granted) liked steady over boxing. Both those wins are over guys who are more stylist than bludgeoner.
And Chavez can take a shot. One of the things that makes him a tough out is that his beard seemed to come with the genes. His father was nearly impossible to hurt, much less drop, for close to 90 fights. Chavez took good shots from Andy Lee (who can punch) and Martinez (who can also punch) and he just walked through them. His problem with Martinez is that he walked in a straight line all night and didn’t move his hands enough while the Argentine gave angles and moved.
Vera isn’t a big mover. He’s usually right there to fight and doesn’t have the foot speed to play elusive for a whole fight. His best chance to win is to land in multiple and move just enough to avoid the body attack. He can’t make many mistakes. Vera may have to fight a perfect fight and hope Chavez is too tired to keep throwing as the fight wears on.
It’s a tall order.
The weight issues around this fight, after his unprofessional effort leading to the Martinez fight, make it impossible not to want to see Vera put the spoiled scion on his rear. It's not the most likely outcome. Vera is unlikely to put on much more weight than he has on him. Chavez might enter the ring in the high 180s; it’s not inconceivable given how much weight he has put on in the past after weigh-ins. While not a perfect fighter, Chavez is a thudding body puncher and Vera will feel every one of them. He’s been stopped twice before, albeit against men with much more speed than Chavez (Jaidon Codrington and James Kirkland), but hurt in other fights. The punishment is going to add up at some point, maybe as early as the fourth or fifth round. Chavez getting a lesson in a fight that shouldn’t be close might make for fitting karma, but karma doesn’t have much to do with it. The pick is Chavez by stoppage.
Report Card Picks 2013: 36-21
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]