Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is prepared to do battle in a courtroom to ensure he retains his currently scheduled fight in the ring.
The second-generation boxer has filed an official lawsuit against the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) on Dec. 2 with the District Court of Clark County, Nevada. according to court documents of which a copy has been obtained by BoxingScene.com.
In the Complaint, Chavez Jr. aims to receive declaratory relief from a temporary suspension issued by the NSAC which remains active and could jeopardize his planned super middleweight bout versus Daniel Jacobs, currently scheduled to take place December 20 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Chavez Jr. also seeks a preliminary injunction to allow the fight to proceed as planned, along with permanent injunctive relief following a “trial on the merits… ordering the NSAC to enjoin any disciplinary action taken against Chavez and restore the status quo,” as stated by Ross C. Goodman, Chavez Jr.’s lead attorney for this matter.
News of the filed lawsuit was first reported by MMAPayout.com.
The development began in late October, when the NSAC—upon a request to stage the Dec. 20 event in Las Vegas, as placed by Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn. Jacobs’ promoter—ordered that Chavez Jr. submit to a random drug test. As further explains in a monthly agenda hearing this past November, the commission felt compelled to have the boxer tested based on his sordid in-state history which includes two previous drug testing-related suspensions as well as the claim that his being scheduled to fight rendered him “associated with” boxing, regardless of current license status.
A Nov. 2009 win over Troy Rowland was changed to a No-Contest after Chavez Jr. (51-3-1, 33KOs) tested positive for the banned substance Furosemide. With the finding came a seven-month suspension and a $10,000 fine.
The first loss of Chavez Jr’s career—a 12-round decision to World middleweight champion Sergio Martinez in Sept. 2012 at Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas—was double the pain, as a post-fight drug test showed marijuana in his system, at the time on the list of banned substances. Because it was his second offense, the boxer was hit with a nine-month suspension and a whopping $900,000 fine, 30% of his $3 million fight purse.
Chavez Jr.’s subsequent issues have largely been limited to the scales and a general lack of discipline. Still, he was willing to proceed as planned with a fight versus Jacobs (35-3, 29KOs) in a battle pitting former middleweight titlists hoping for a brighter future at super middleweight.
Those plans were jeopardized when Chavez Jr. allegedly evaded testers as contracted through Voluntary Ant-Doping Agency (VADA), who reportedly showed up at the Wild Card Boxing Gym in Hollywood, California, where he had resurfaced to resume training with his old coach, Hall of Fame cornerman Freddie Roach shortly after a comeback win this past August in his first bout in more than two years.
Upon testers reporting his alleged refusal to comply with orders, the NSAC issued a temporary suspension which officially jeopardized his fight with Brooklyn’s Jacobs.
The sequence of events prompted Matchroom Boxing to relocate the event to the Talking Stick Resort Arena—the home of the National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns— pending approval from the Arizona Boxing and MMA Commission, who conditionally offered its blessing providing that Chavez Jr. still submit to random drug testing during its bi-monthly commission meeting on Nov. 13 at state headquarters in Phoenix. Hearn contracted the services of Drug Free Sport, which doesn’t carry history in boxing but has been contracted by the National Football League (NFL) as well as other sports.
Those plans, however, were at risk of falling through once the NSAC opted to extend the temporary suspension during its Nov. 20 monthly agenda hearing. The matter was argued by Chavez Jr.’s legal at the time and once again in the filed Complaint, that the suspension is unfounded on the grounds that it is unlawful to suspend an unlicensed boxer.
“Chavez does not hold a professional boxing license with the NSAC,” Goodman argues. “Chavez declined to price the NSAC a sample because he was under no legal or statutory obligation to comply with NSAC’s drug testing policy.
“The license process is the pre-requisite for consenting to agency jurisdiction. The NSAC ensures fairness and promotes the health and safety of boxing by requiring licensing under NRS 467.100(1) before a person may participate in any “professional contest or exhibition of unarmed combat.”
Chavez Jr. has not fought in the state of Nevada since a May 2017 shutout loss to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Las Vegas. The son of Hall of Fame former three-division champ Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. also does not hold an active Federal ID, which his legal team claims had expired this past April.
The matter received considerable media attention, more so since several prominent boxing scribes were physically in Las Vegas for Deontay Wilder’s repeat knockout win over Luis Ortiz in their heavyweight title fight rematch later that same week, and therefore were able to attend the meeting and subsequently report on the ruling.
“This unlawful action has caused Chavez adverse public notice, embarrassment, criticism and financial loss,” Goodman alleges in the Complaint. “The phrase “associated with” boxing is unconstitutional on its face was relied upon by the NSAC as a fait accompli in unlawfully exercising subject matter jurisdiction over Chavez.
“The phrase “associated with” boxing as currently written is vague and subjective as “individuals of ordinary intelligence” cannot know where their “association will arbitrarily subject them to agency jurisdiction as it lacks virtually any objective standard. The unconstitutional phrase gives the NSAC unfettered discretion to drug test anyone “associated” with boxing because any person is ipso facto “associated” with boxing.”
For the moment, Chavez Jr’s fight night status resides on the hope of being cleared to fight at the next Arizona commission meeting, which is scheduled for Dec. 18—two days before the DAZN-streamed event. Former title challenger Gabriel Rosado (24-12-1, 14KOs) has long been touted as the event’s insurance policy to face Jacobs should Chavez Jr. fail to make weight or fall out of the promotion for any number of reasons.
A refusal to license the boxer would certainly qualify as grounds for a replacement opponent in the evening’s headliner, although Chavez Jr’s legal team is prepared for a long hard fight outside the ropes in efforts to restore his career without missing a beat.
“There is no plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary cause of law to correct NSAC’s extension of a Temporary Suspension,” points out Goodman, referring to the aforementioned Arizona commission hearing not taking place until two days before the scheduled bout. “Chavez therefore petitions the Court to issue a writ of prohibition which prohibits the NSAC from [taking] disciplinary action against someone not licensed.
“[Chavez] prays for judgment… for a temporary, preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining any disciplinary action taken against Plaintiff/Petitioner and restoring the status quo for issuance of a writ of prohibition; for compensatory and special damages as set forth herein; for attorney’s fees and costs of suit; and for all other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox