By Cliff Rold
It turned out better for Vera than for many.
Too often in boxing, victims of controversial verdicts against opponents of larger profile find themselves on the outside looking in. Fans and pundits recall their bad fortune and the star moves on.
It didn’t happen this time. Brian Vera looked to many like the man who deserved the win against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. last year. After a debacle before the fight about what weight Chavez could be bothered to show up at, the son of the Mexican legend found himself in a hard fight.
He landed the biggest shots of the night. Vera put on the working boots and kept throwing. Now, they do it again. There is no drama at the scales this time around.
Will there be drama in the ring?
Let’s go the report cards.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Previous Titles: WBC Middleweight (2011-12, 2 Defenses)
Weight: 167.5 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 161.75 lbs.
Hails from: Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico
Record: 47-1-1, 32 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 4-1, 2 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 2 (Sebastian Zbik MD12; Sergio Martinez L12)
Title/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 167.5 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 162.2 lbs.
Hails from: Austin, Texas
Record: 23-7, 14 KO, 2 KOBY
Rankings: #6 at Middleweight (Boxing Scene)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 3 (Sergio Mora SD10, MD12; Sergiy Dzinziruk TKO10; Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. L10)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Chavez B; Vera B
Pre-Fight: Power – Chavez B+; Vera B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Chavez C; Vera B-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Chavez B-; Vera B
Like he did in his loss to Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez, if to a lesser degree, Chavez spent a lot of the first fight waiting for shots to open up for him. When they did, Vera was visibly hurt but there was never the sort of output that could have made a statement.
Showing up under the Super Middleweight limit, it looks like Chavez took camp more serious this time. He can fight better than he did the first time. Is the same true of Vera? The tough Texan went all out the first time and had to absorb some nasty shots along the way. Does he have a plan if Chavez picks up the pace?
Neither man is a defensive wizard but Chavez is making a habit of relying on his chin by way of exposing it too often. To date, that chin has been impressive. His father had one of the best there ever was and the apple has not fallen too far from the tree. What he lacks is the consistent professionalism. Two fights in a row, Chavez half assed it. He looks like he did better on the scale this time around but the story will tell in the ring.
What is his true professional character? For now, it is an intangible in flux.
While the first fight might have been wrongly decided, it was not uncompetitive. Chavez looks to be in much better shape this time around and he’s still the bigger puncher. If he can get his hands moving more consistently, Vera is in trouble. It will be entertaining again but ultimately Vera is unable to capture the lightning in a bottle again. The pick is Chavez via stoppage sometime around the sixth round.
Report Card Picks 2014: 6-2
Three more picks in as weekend full of good action…Earlier in the day in Scotland, WBO Lightweight titlist Ricky Burns (36-2-1, 11 KO) defends against American Terrence Crawford (22-0, 16 KO). Is Crawford ready for Burns? Sure, he can outbox him, but to win on the road he needs to be aces in at least nine rounds. He knows how to win. Knowing how to dominate can be different. A controversial outcome is expected here...On the undercard of Chavez-Vera, we already know WBO Featherweight titlist Orlando Salido (40-12-2, 28 KO) has lost his belt on the scales. Can upstart challenger Vasyl Lomachenko (1-0, 1 KO) find it for himself? This could be a shock in terms of efficiency. Salido has been down against men with less speed and pop and has probably become a tad overrated. Lomachenko may have this done by the third round in a starmaking turn…In Germany, it’s a rubber match as WBO Super Middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz (46-3, 26 KO) faces former Middleweight and Super Middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham (38-4, 28 KO) to break their personal tie. It may be Abraham's last hurrah was their first fight, a narrow decision later avenged in a four round blitz. Steiglitz has come into his own and stays there this weekend, likely with another stoppage.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org