For Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., it’s fight week in every sense of the term.
The only place where he’s not yet guaranteed to fight, however, is in a boxing ring.
Legal representatives for the second-generation boxer and former middleweight titlist are due to continue an ongoing courtroom battle with the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) and Bob Bennett, its executive director. The next court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, December 17 in District Court of Clark County, Nevada, remaining on that circuit following a recent ruling in efforts on behalf of NSAC to have the case moved to federal court.
As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, Chavez Jr. aims to receive declaratory relief from a temporary suspension issued by the NSAC. The purpose of obtaining a Temporary Restraining Order against the commission would clear the path for his planned super middleweight bout versus fellow former middleweight titlist Daniel Jacobs (35-3, 29KOs), currently scheduled to take place December 20 live on DAZN from Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
In said complaint, Chavez Jr. and his legal team claimed a violation of his U.S. Constitutional rights in regard to the current suspension in place. As such, the state's attorney general's office filed an Opposition to Temporary Restraining Order, while seeking to have the matter moved to a Federal court, arguing that Chavez Jr’s case contains neither the essential element of irreparable harm nor the merits on which to succeed.
“Plaintiff contends that NSAC lacked jurisdiction over him at the time Plaintiff was requested to take the PED test, such that he could not be temporarily suspended for his refusal to do so,” notes Aaron D. Ford, attorney general for the state of Nevada. “Because NSAC did have jurisdiction, Plaintiff is unlikely to succeed on the merits, which further warrant denying the Motion.”
The rest of the case is still scheduled to be heard before a Clark County judge, which will take place hours before a scheduled pre-fight press conference in Phoenix.
Interestingly, said press conference takes place on the eve of the next scheduled Arizona Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Commission, which takes place Wednesday at 10:00am and—depending on the outcome of Tuesday’s court hearing in Nevada—could determine whether or not Chavez Jr. will be permitted to fight on Friday.
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 USA’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.
Chavez Jr.’s subsequent issues following his aforementioned dirty drug tests with NSAC 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 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.
“NSAC has jurisdiction over all contestants of a contest that is to be held in Nevada, regardless of whether the contestant has been licensed,” noted AG Ford in defending its grounds to order Chavez Jr. to submit to random drug testing, regardless of his licensure status at the time. “Plaintiff was such a contestant at the time NSAC requested he submit to a PED test and therefore was under NSAC’s jurisdiction.”
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 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.
For the moment, Matchroom Boxing USA and DAZN-USA continue to proceed as if Chavez Jr. will remain in the evening’s headliner. 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.
Philadelphia’s Rosado is currently scheduled to face Mexico’s Humberto Gutierrez (33-8-2, 22KOs) in a 10-round bout on the undercard. Rosado and Chavez Jr. have both spent this past training camp at Wild Card Boxing Gym.
For now, Chavez Jr. and his team will have to be in two places at once given Tuesday’s scheduled events thanks to the most recent ruling in his ongoing legal battle.
“Plaintiff has failed to meet his burden to support the issuance of the injunctive relief sought in his Motion,” claims AG Ford. “He has failed to establish that he would suffer irreparable harm if the temporary suspension preventing him from participating in unarmed combat within the State of Nevada remained in place. Further, he has failed to establish that he is likely to prevail on the merits of the underlying action.
“And lastly, he has failed to show that the balance of harms and public interest in keeping the temporary suspension in place weigh in favor of granting the injunctive relief he seeks. As such, his Motion should be denied.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox