By Jake Donovan
It was a busy month for boxing in Las Vegas. Four separate nationally televised shows were staged in the gambling capital in a span of just seven days, with cameras rolling for HBO, Showtime and ESPN2.
Among the 50 or so fighters who appeared on the cards and were tested for illegal substances, all but one came back clean according to a recent statement from Keith Kizer, Executive Director for the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The lone exception was previously unbeaten Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who tested positive for marijuana following his 12-round points loss to Sergio Martinez in their September 15 HBO PPV-televised main event.
The fight was Chavez Jr’s first appearance in Las Vegas since November 2009, when he tested positive for a banned diuretic following a 10-round middleweight with Troy Rowland. The win was changed to a no-contest, with Chavez Jr. receiving a seven-month suspension.
The second-generation boxer returned to the ring in June 2010, with his bouts taking place in Texas, California and Mexico.
Drug testing was a major point of contention for fights with Marco Antonio Rubio and Andy Lee earlier this year. Chavez Jr. defeated both fighters, though both camps complaining afterward of the poor handling of post-fight drug testing. No such testing took place after the Rubio fight in February, an issue which was addressed in a still-unresolved lawsuit between the Rubio camp and the WBC.
Members of Lee’s camp complained of the quick and unconfirmed manner in which Chavez Jr. was tested. The claim was that nobody from Team Lee was able to witness that it was actually the fighter being tested. Chavez Jr. knocked out Lee in seven rounds, setting up the lucrative payday and crack at the lineal middleweight crown against Martinez.
Chavez Jr. came up way short in last weekend’s headliner, though almost pulled out a miracle in the closing minutes. A knockdown late in the 12th round and Martinez down and nearly out, but the Mexican star was unable to close the show, a sign of reportedly poor training habits and a general laissez faire attitude towards the sport in general.
The loss is doubly punishing in the wake of the recent test result. A two-time offender in Nevada, Chavez Jr. is now looking at a suspension of up to one year and forfeiture of up to 100% of his multi-million dollar purse.
It also kills any plans promoters Top Rank and DiBella Entertainment had for staging a proposed rematch in Cowboys Stadium next spring.
The other shows referenced in the Nevada State Athletic Commission report including Showtime telecasts on September 8 and September 15, as well as the ESPN2 special on September 13.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox