The next fight for Julio César Chávez Jr. will remain limited to a courtroom.
An ongoing legal battle with the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) leaves the second-generation boxer and former middleweight titlist from Culiacan, Mexico unable to continue with his boxing career until he is able to resolve such matters. Both the NSAC and the Arizona Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Commission have placed Chavez Jr. under indefinite suspension on Friday, stemming from a drug testing incident which ultimately linked the two governing bodies.
The suspension resurfaced due to the latest round of appeals in an ongoing court battle with the NSAC. A May 12 ruling in the District Court of Clark County, Nevada—of which BoxingScene.com has obtained a copy—ruled in favor of the NSAC boasting the jurisdiction to have temporarily suspended Chavez Jr. for refusing to submit to a commission-ordered random drug test last October.
“The Court finds that under the current Nevada regulatory and statutory scheme, the NSAC lawfully exercised both initial jurisdiction and lawfully retained jurisdiction over Plaintiff in continuing disciplinary actions against Plaintiff, for Plaintiff’s failure to submit to a random drug test prior to a “Boxing Contest” scheduled in Nevada, which ended up being canceled in Nevada, relocated to a different State, and ultimately took place in different State,” Jim Crockett, judge for the Clark County District Court determined in the court’s finding of the facts in the case.
With it, came the court order that “(1) State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Second Amended Complaint is GRANTED as a Motion for Summary Judgment; (2) State Defendants' Motion to Dissolve Overlong Temporary Restraining Order is GRANTED; and (3) Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dissolve Temporary Restraining Order and Countermotion for Issuance of Preliminary Injunction Nunc Pro Tunc is DENIED.”
The disciplinary action taken by Nevada and Arizona disqualifies Chavez Jr. from fighting anywhere in the United States or any other location falling under the auspices of the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC).
Chavez's legal team—headed by Ross Goodman—has since appealed the decision, which was filed on June 9.
At the time of the initial suspension, Chavez Jr. filed a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in an attempt to proceed with his fight versus Daniel Jacobs which ultimately took place last December in Phoenix, Arizona. The bout was relocated from its originally sought location at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, as per a Request for Program Permit filed with the NSAC on October 17, 2019 by promoter Eddie Hearn on behalf of his Matchroom Boxing USA outfit.
The attempt to relocate the event surfaced late last October, after the NSAC issued a temporary suspension upon being informed by Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) that Chavez Jr. evaded testers who arrived at Wild Card Gym in Hollywood in seeking a urine sample from the boxer. The suspension was issued after Bob Bennett, executive director of NSAC confirmed with Richard Sturm, MGM President of Las Vegas Entertainment and Sports that “all arena reservations and arrangements were made and they were “preparing to release the tickets to be sold the next day or in the immediate future.”
Chavez was officially suspended in the state of Nevada on October 29, shortly after which his team sought a TRO. The legal maneuver would ultimately allow the event to relocate to Arizona, with the December 20 card having streamed live on DAZN-USA from Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.
The matter became a topic of conversation for the Arizona commission during its agenda hearing on November 13, conditionally approving the request. One week later, the commission’s legal team was forced to revisit the topic after the NSAC unanimously voted to extend Chavez’s temporary suspension on November 20 during its own monthly agenda hearing.
“The Arizona Boxing & Mixed Martial Arts Commission is committed to enforcing the law and supports effective and efficient regulation that enhances unarmed combat sports,” Ted Vogt, director of Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) told BoxingScene.com at the time. “Our attorneys are reviewing the actions taken today by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in order to advise the Arizona Boxing & Mixed Martial Arts Commission on the appropriate next steps.”
The contention at the time from Chavez Jr. and his legal team—which filed a second amended Writ of Prohibition this past March—was that the NSAC lacked jurisdiction at the time of the ordered test and subsequent suspension. Chavez Jr. was neither licensed in the state of Nevada nor carried an active Federal ID at the time.
Efforts to proceed with his fight versus Jacobs pushed forward after Chavez Jr. filed an official lawsuit against the Nevada commission and specifically Bennett, where he sought declaratory relief from the TRO which previously jeopardized his fight.
It was enough to push forward with the event, thanks to an emergency ex-parte hearing on December 17 which ruled in the boxer’s favor—though ultimately at a heavy cost.
Chavez Jr. was forced to quit after five rounds due to inability to breathe through a broken nose. His actions were not at all well-received by the rabid crowd on hand, hurling objects ranging from beer bottles to high-heeled shoes into the ring, thus forcing on-site authorities to clear the venue.
The bout marked his last ring appearance to date. A comeback fight was guaranteed in the language of his contract, although he has a long way to dig in order to ever make his way back into the ring at least in North America.
Recent efforts by his legal team to dissolve the TRO were heard but dismissed in the latest round. The court ruling specified the following sections of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) upon acknowledging that the NSAC boasted such jurisdiction:
NRS 467.070(1) Jurisdiction of Commission.
1. The Commission has and is vested with the sole direction, management, control and jurisdiction over all contests or exhibitions of unarmed combat to be conducted, held or given within the State of Nevada, and no contest or exhibition may be conducted, held or given within this state except in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
NRS 467.100 Licenses for contestant, promoter, manager, trainer, ring official and others; temporary license; application for license; privileged statements; submission of fingerprints; withdrawal of application; uniform scale of fees; payment of costs of proceedings.
1. All contestants, promoters, managers, seconds, trainers and ring officials must be licensed by the Commission. No person may participate, directly or indirectly, in any professional contest or exhibition of unarmed combat unless the person has first procured a license from the Commission.
Additional authority was cited in the accompanying disciplinary actions taken, under Nevada commission rules in conjunction with NRS code 467.030 (Chair; seal; regulations; form of contracts):
NAC 467.885 Grounds for disciplinary action.
The Commission may suspend or revoke the license, approval, registration or sanctioning of, impose a ban on participation in unarmed combat in this State for a certain period against, otherwise discipline, or take any combination of such actions against, a person licensed, approved, registered or sanctioned by the Commission or otherwise associated with unarmed combat in this State who has, in the judgment of the Commission
NAC 467.089 Effect of expiration of license, approval, registration or sanctioning on jurisdiction of Commission.
The expiration of a license, approval, registration or sanctioning granted by the Commission does not deprive the Commission of jurisdiction to:
1. Proceed with an investigation of any person associated with unarmed combat in this State;
2. Proceed with an action or disciplinary proceeding against any person associated with unarmed combat in this
3. Render a decision to suspend or revoke the license, approval, registration or sanctioning, as applicable; or
4. Otherwise discipline any licensee, person approved, registered or sanctioned by the Commission, or any person otherwise associated with unarmed combat in this State.
As such, the application filed by Matchroom Boxing USA in request to stage the event—and identifying both Jacobs and Chavez Jr. as the main participants—provided NSAC with the authority to treat said boxers as licensed persons.
Similar steps were taken in a request by Top Rank to promote the ring return of disgraced heavyweight Jarrell Miller, who was due to headline a July 9 show on ESPN live from MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. The bout was to have been the first for Miller since November 2018, and more specifically his first effort to make his way back to the ring following his drug testing scandal which cost him a shot at then-unbeaten and unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua last June in New York City.
The Nevada commission agreed to conditionally approve Miller’s application only after he submitted to and successfully completed random drug testing as contracted by the state through VADA. Miller was unlicensed at the time—in Nevada or anywhere in the U.S.—but still treated as a licensed person in accordance with NAC 467.089.
Similar to Miller, past history provided the NSAC with cause to compel Chavez Jr. to submit to its drug testing protocol.
Chavez Jr. tested positive for the banned substance Furosemide surrounding his Nov. 2009 win over Troy Rowland at MGM Grand. The verdict was subsequently changed to a No-Contest, with the violation accompanied by a seven-month suspension and a $10,000 fine.
Nearly three years later, Chavez Jr. made his way back into town, only to once again land in trouble. At the time an unbeaten WBC middleweight titlist, Chavez saw his reign and unblemished record go awry after dropping a 12-round to then-lineal champion Sergio Martinez in Sept. 2012 at Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The loss carried an additional hit. 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.
Now pressed with his third strike, the biggest difference this time around is that his boxing career is literally at stake.
“[U]pon the District Court’s granting of the State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Second Amended Complaint as a Motion for Summary Judgment, the Parties must proceed forward in front of the NSAC, where the Temporary Suspension will result in a Formal Disciplinary Action,” noted Judge Crockett. “It is this Court’s understanding that the Formal Disciplinary Action is the NSAC’s version of an Evidentiary Hearing, wherein fact finding will occur regarding Plaintiff’s failure to report for the random drug test, and this will result in the NSAC rendering a Final, thus appealable, Decision.”
The next NSAC monthly hearing is scheduled for August 5, though to be held remotely in lieu of normally meeting in person at state headquarters in Las Vegas due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It has yet to be identified whether this matter will serve as part of the hearing, as a detailed agenda is normally not provided until seven days prior to the meeting.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox