Perhaps it’s time for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to drop his surname and use his middle name Carrasco instead. Judging from his miserable performance against journeyman Bryan Vera in his most recent fight, Chavez Jr. may have inherited his killer instinct and dedication to boxing from the distaff side of the family.
A former football player who entered boxing to follow in the footsteps of his father who once boxed in the heavyweight division, Vera was specifically hired to play the role of sacrificial lamb against Chavez Jr., who was coming off a year-long inactivity. Vera sported a win-loss record of 23-6 heading into the fight and majority of his wins came against tomato cans. Though a regular middleweight (160 pounds), Vera agreed to take on Chavez Jr. at the hefty catch weight of 173 pounds.
Believe it or not, the original catch weight agreed upon by the boxers was the super middleweight limit of 168 pounds. Chavez Jr., however, encountered so much difficulty meeting the weight that he asked the catch weight to be raised to 173 pounds, just two pounds short of the limit for the light heavyweight division (175 pounds). Chavez Jr. also asked that the fight be shortened from 12 rounds to just 10 frames. Amid reports that he was still finding it difficult to trim down, Chavez Jr. tried to withdraw from the fight at the last minute by citing an injury he sustained in training. When it turned out that the “injury” was just a teeny-weeny cut, Chavez Jr. was roundly criticized by boxing fans which included his countrymen in Mexico. Stung by the criticisms, Chavez Jr. decided to go on with the bout.
For 10 rounds, Chavez Jr. looked pathetic against Vera. Visibly out of shape, Chavez Jr. chugged his way to a controversial decision win. Not a few experts at ringside thought the result should have been a draw as they noted Vera’s spirited showing. When the scores of the three judges were announced, the crowd booed in unison. Ronnie Shields, Vera’s trainer, thought his ward won at least seven rounds.
Chavez Jr. improved his record to 47-1 with 32 knockouts, chalking up his first win since losing the World Boxing Council (WBC) middleweight (160 pounds) title to Argentina’s Sergio Martinez. Despite knocking down Martinez in the 12th round, Chavez Jr. was a huge disappointment in the fight. Facing his most accomplished foe in Martinez, Chavez Jr. sleepwalked and was clearly intimidated by Martinez’s reputation.
Before the Martinez fight, there were loose reports that Chavez Jr. did not train in earnest; that he did most of his workouts at home. Against Vera, Chavez Jr. apparently did all his training at home, perhaps right at the kitchen. When officials tried to put Chavez Jr. at the weighing scale again minutes before the fight, for the purpose of determining his exact weight, the fighter declined. Observers mused that while the fight was fought at 173 pounds, Chavez Jr. may have outweighed Vera by at least 20 pounds.
Chavez Jr. has a history of cheating at the scales and was in fact suspended in 2009 for testing positive for the diuretic Furosemide. Instead of working out feverishly in the gym, Chavez Jr.’s idea of shedding weight is taking banned weigh-reducing drugs. Oh, speaking of drugs, Chavez was slapped a nine-month suspension after the Martinez fight after he tested positive for marijuana use.
Owing to his name, Chavez Jr. is likely to move on to bigger fights. However, there are brewing reports that Top Rank Promotions is mulling a rematch with Vera in December, if only to silence the critics who thought Chavez Jr. lost the fight. No less than former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis expressed his disappointment, noting that as a boxer Chavez Jr.’s primary responsibility was to show up in good condition against Vera.
Chavez Jr. will continue to earn megabucks because of his bloodline, but you can bet your last tequila that somewhere in Mexico, his father Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., the country’s greatest champion, is also shaking his head in disappointment.
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