Bryan Vera is fighting next month. (photo by Chris Farina)
Yes, that Bryan Vera.
The one who’s not gone past a single round in 15 months, not beaten a plus-.500 fighter in four years and not won a fight scheduled beyond eight rounds since 2013.
But lest you think he’s a delusional 39-year-old with visions of Canelo and Golovkin, think again.
In fact, his hold on reality is particularly strong.
He’s simply got an itch he’d like to scratch.
“I feel like I’ve got one more decent run left in me,” the amiable Texan told Boxing Scene. “And if I could get another fight with Chavez Jr., that’d be what I’d most like to come out of it.”
Ah yes, the Chavez itch.
In this case, call it a squared-circle version of bed bugs.
Vera was a mere 31 when he first engaged the enigmatic son of the Mexican legend, outworking a particularly sluggish version of the progeny for most of 10 rounds before scorecard margins of two, four and six points in the other direction earned it a shared nod as this site’s 2013 Robbery of the Year.
A rematch six months later did little to ease the irritation, ending in another unanimous decision – albeit admittedly a far more agreed-upon one – in the other man’s favor.
The second Chavez loss triggered a long, slow decline for Vera, who was banished from the elite by losses to Willie Monroe Jr. (UD 10), Rocky Fielding (TKO 2) and Matt Korobov (UD 8) through mid-2016 – then dropped another five in a row to the more middling likes of Mike Gavronski (TKO 6), Sena Agbeko (UD 8) and Ahmed Elbiali (TKO 6) in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively.
“It’s not like I dwell on it and think about it every single day,” Vera said.
“I’m not that kind of guy.
“But if you’re asking me if I’d like another shot at him with a chance for both of us to make a little money, sure, I’d go for it. I think it makes sense for both of us.”
Vera ended his skid with two first-round wins in 2020, hooking up with Granite Chin Promotions and heading northeast to Derry, N.H. for consecutive blowouts of Mike Anderson and Francisco Neto last August and November at the New England Sports Center.
Full disclosure: Anderson and Neto were a combined 1-14 and lasted just 2 minutes, 25 seconds.
But, Vera said, the KOs were not the only positive results. His work with new trainer Fernando Melchor has yielded subtle changes in defense that he said will maximize whatever shelf life he’s got remaining.
“It’s not like you won’t be able to recognize me,” Vera said.
“I’m still the same guy. But I don’t get hit in the face as much. And for a guy my age that’s a good thing.
“I’m still mentally tough, but I’m picking my shots much better now. I’m in top shape because I changed my lifestyle and don’t put on a lot of pounds between fights.”
Vera has dipped his toe into training waters, too, working with novices looking to get into “boxing shape” in and around his current in Austin. He’s got more than a dozen clients these days and frequently posts videos of personal gym sessions on his Facebook page: Boxing Training with Bryan Vera.
“It’s what I’m about,” he said. “Fitness and staying in shape have been a part of my life.”
The extracurricular work surely helps fuel the prep for April 17, when Vera heads back to Derry for the next step on the road toward Chavez III – an eight-rounder with once-beaten super middleweight Kendrick Ball for the chronically vacant and forever dubious World Boxing Council USNBC silver title.
Based out of nearby Worcester, Mass., Ball has won six straight – including five by KO – since taking his lone career loss in a six-rounder against then-unbeaten Alexis Gaytan at Foxwoods three years ago.
He’ll stand three inches taller than Vera and is 11 years younger, but, according to Granite Chin promoter Chris Traietti, he’s also made to order for a still-relevant veteran.
“Kendrick is a solid prospect, and he comes from a great gym,” Traietti said.
“But the reality is, for Bryan to even sniff the kinds of fights he used to get, he needs beat Kendrick Ball. So, hopefully this fight goes the way we want and then we can sit down and have a much more pleasant conversation about who we go after next.”
Incidentally, since beating Ball by a wide unanimous decision, Gaytan is just 3-8.
And Ball’s six subsequent victims have a combined mark of 45-64-8, with 42 KO losses.
“He’s had softer fights than me and it looks like he wants to box and be fancy,” Vera said. “I’ll have a perfect opportunity to break him down. I’m 100-percent serious about this fight.
“I feel like I’m the stronger fighter. I’m going to get inside and make him work. He’s never fought anybody as strong as me. I think I can overwhelm with my strength and experience.”
And then, cue up the trilogy music for Chavez – who’s 4-4 since the Vera duel.
“I think I can be back in line for a real good fight,” Vera said. “I think it makes sense for both of us and a chance to make some real money.”
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This week’s title-fight schedule:
No title fights scheduled.
Last week's picks: 2-0 (WON: Beterbiev, Okolie)
2021 picks record: 8-2 (80.0 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,164-377 (75.5 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.