Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.’s nickname is “The Son of the Legend” which is derived from his status as the oldest son of Mexico’s greatest and most popular fighter, the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez. Being the son of the Hall of Famer has provided Chavez, Jr. (46-1-1) a path to stardom in boxing: his developmental fights were regularly shown on television; he was provided coveted spots on major cards by his promoter, Bob Arum’s Top Rank; the WBC gave him an easy path to a middleweight title which included stripping the rightful champion for no reason; and loyalty from HBO which counts on Chavez Jr.’s fan base for big ratings. All of that was despite criticism from numerous sources that Chavez, Jr. was not that talented a prizefighter and he did not work that hard.
The controversy in his career has done nothing to calm those criticisms. Indeed, Chavez, Jr. missed weight for numerous fights which he was allowed to have against undersized foes because the promoters paid extra money to the opponents. The end result of that was Chavez, Jr. being hospitalized for dehydration before and testing positive for a banned substance (a diuretic used to aid in weight loss) following his 2009 fight with Troy Rowland on the Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto pay per view undercard. Chavez, Jr. followed that up with almost getting a 2011 fight against Marco Antonio Rubio in San Antonio, Texas moved out of town because of a relationship he had with the daughter of the head of a Mexican cartel and then when the fight did go forward, he allegedly ran out of the arena before the commission was able to perform a drug test. Finally, before his most recent, lucrative and important fight, a battle against Sergio Martinez for the middleweight championship of the world, he basically trained for the fight in his house and smoked weed to allow him to sleep. The result was Chavez, Jr. being dominated by the smaller and older champion (although Chavez, Jr. did give his fans a thrill when he knocked Martinez down in the 12th round) and then being suspended for one year by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for his second positive drug test.
With that in mind, no one should be surprised with what is going on Chavez, Jr. this week. He is scheduled to fight in an HBO televised main event against former “Contender” contestant and fringe middleweight contender Brian Vera (23-6) at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California on Saturday night. This a is a fight that was originally going to be scheduled for July and then August. Issues with Chavez, Jr.’s suspension and visa prevented the fight from going forward in the summer. During that time though, Top Rank and Chavez, Jr. came to terms with Vera as the opponent. In order to get the fight with Chavez, Jr. and the money and HBO exposure that comes with it, Vera agreed to fight at the super middleweight limit of 168 pounds despite campaigning for the majority of his career at middleweight.
The fight was scheduled for September 7, 2013 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. In the lead up to that date, Chavez, Jr. announced that he would not be training with five time trainer-of-the-year Freddie Roach and his camp would be headed by his father whom he has a notoriously rocky relationship. On August 13, 2013, Chavez, Jr. requested a postponement because of a cut sustained during sparring. While photographs showed that the cut was legitimate, speculation was rampant that Chavez, Jr. needed the postponement because he was too far over the 168 pound weight limit. Photographs of the former WBC middleweight titleholder at various locations seemed to confirm that he was nowhere near 168 pounds. The fight was rescheduled to Saturday night.
Over the weekend, rumors started flying around that Chavez, Jr. would not be able to make 168 pounds for the fight and was requesting a 173 pound limit for the fight. Steve Kim of Maxboxing.com reported that he spoke with Vera and his trainer, Ronnie Shields, and they said they heard no such request and were preparing as if the weight limit was the contracted 168 pounds. Regardless, the rumors continued to the point that it was the main line of questioning during today’s media conference call. Amazingly, Arum stated that the weight limit for the fight is now “To Be Announced.” At an open workout today, Chavez, Jr. denied that but appeared to be well north of 168 pounds. Even more amazingly, Arum stated that they will check Chavez, Jr.’s weight tomorrow and then negotiate a new weight limit that the “Son of the Legend” can make. Essentially, Vera will stand to make some more money but, as the smaller fighter, will be at a greater disadvantage which puts him at greater risk of injury. Most likely, the fight will go on as a light heavyweight bout.
That said, there is the potential that this fight is postponed again. Vera does not have to agree to a higher weight but given the financial rewards, that is not likely. HBO could have had enough with the antics of Chavez, Jr. and decide not to air the bout to teach him a lesson but given the ratings he brings in, that is not likely either. Finally, Kim has reported that ticket sales at the Stub Hub Center are not going very well. It is possible that given the circumstances, Top Rank may pull the plug on the bout. Given the money involved though, that is not likely either.
The real question now is whether the antics of Chavez, Jr. continue or this is the end and he begins to act like a professional. He can act like this and still succeed against a limited fighter with no economic muscle like Vera. When it comes to potential future foes such as Martinez, Miguel Cotto or Andre Ward, acting unprofessionally will not get him very far. Additionally, he also looks terrible to fans especially the Mexican partisans who have seemingly turned to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez who is nothing less than professional and hard-working. Chavez, Jr. says the birth of his first child will focus him on boxing but the jury is still out.