By Jake Donovan
Marco Antonio Rubio was already planning on making a statement in this weekend’s stay-busy appearance against Marcus Upshaw. Even more incentive is now offered to keep winning.
The WBC announced on Thursday that the middleweight will be reinstated as the mandatory challenger, contingent upon his getting past Upshaw on Saturday evening in Uruapan, Mexico.
The ruling comes from a protest filed more than a year ago, following the absence of drug testing in Rubio’s title fight loss to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. last February in San Antonio, Texas. The Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) issued a Consent Award in Rubio’s favor, allowing him to return to his original ranking prior to entering the ring against Chavez Jr.
“We are pleased with the decision,” said Oswaldo Kuchle, Rubio’s promoter. “We were unhappy with the way things turned out after that fight, but had faith in the legal system. Justice has been served.”
Rubio (56-6-1, 49KO) was riding a 10-fight win streak prior to the failed title bid and enters this weekend having won three in a row. His showdown with Upshaw will come in front of a sold-out Centro de Espectáculos “La Macarena”venue in Uruapan.
With a win, the Mexican veteran will get to pick up exactly where he left off and already has designs on his next target.
“I want another title shot with anyone out there at 160,” said Rubio. “I will be reinstated at number one in the WBC rankings if I win on Saturday.”
Such a ranking puts him in line for the winner of the April 27 bout between lineal middleweight king Sergio Martinez and Martin Murray. When exactly his turn will come remains to be seen, but Rubio and his handlers have learned that patience is a virtue.
“Maybe he will fight one more time and then we will just wait for the WBC title shot,” Kuchle suggests. “Martinez can fight in April and then (if he beats Murray) he has to challenge Rubio.”
Given the ruling, there stands little chance that the WBC would dare invent a reason to justify not enforcing such a fight. The organization’s public comments suggest their readiness to play ball.
“The WBC has been a longtime supporter of Rubio’s career and considers it fair that Rubio receive another opportunity to fight for the WBC green and gold belt while all anti-doping protocols are dutifully followed,” said a WBC spokesperson in a statement.
The irony in the ruling is that it comes after Chavez Jr. failed a drug test in his last fight, a points loss to Martinez last September. The second generation titlist was way down on the scorecards before rallying to drop and nearly stop Martinez in the final minute of the fight.
The late surge wasn’t enough to overcome the insurmountable deficit on the scorecards. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as a win would have been overturned due to his testing positive for marijuana. Chavez Jr. received a nine-month suspension and a hefty fine. He is due to return to the ring in June, with Top Rank in the process of securing an HBO date for the occasion.
Last September’s fallout at the lab marked the second time Chavez Jr. failed a drug test. Both instances came in his last two trips to a Vegas ring, having tested positive for a banned diuretic in a Nov. ’09 middleweight fight with Troy Rowland.
Following the financial success of last year’s blockbuster fight with Martinez, the hope to was march towards a rematch later this year. There’s no chance of Rubio allowing that to happen, at least not until he gets his title shot. A chance at redemption is also on his mind, but only if all parties involved can guarantee a level playing field.
“We would love to fight Chavez again, but obviously with a proper anti-doping protocol,” comments Kuchle.
Rubio’s middleweight bout with Upshaw on Saturday evening airs live on Televisa in Mexico.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox