Missing in action primarily due to serving a lengthy Nevada State Athletic Commission imposed drug suspension, Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico’s Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-1-1, 32 KO’s) finally returns to the ring this Saturday night to face confident Texan Brian Vera (23-6, 14 KO’s).
And when the bell sounds at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California, the “Son of a Legend” will be looking to pick up where he left off in round 12 against Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez little more than a year ago.
That’s to say the now former champion upon connecting with a solid left hook in the final minutes of that contest would nearly catch lightning in a bottle against Martinez, not only considered the legitimate WBC middleweight champion at the time, but a man for whom the Jose Sulaiman manufactured titlist J.C. Jr. was said to be keeping the belt warm.
Of course Chavez Jr. would prefer to forget the previous eleven rounds as the recipient of a one-sided thrashing at the hands of the Argentine, but nevertheless he I’m sure is just as confident if not more so than his opponent Vera who comes in riding a four-fight win streak.
Vastly improved as a result of facing upscale competition in defense of his gifted title, this as opposed to mainly contesting opponents meant to pad his record beforehand, Jr.’s got to be riding a bit higher knowing he nearly kayoed the pound-for-pound rated “Maravilla.”
Speaking of improvement, strides towards betterment would come under the watch of five-time trainer of the year Freddie Roach who relieved of his duties, will see the helm taken over by Jr.’s longtime assistant Vladamir Baldenebro, with legendary fighter and father to the principal Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. to also work the corner.
The latter reference is no less than a complete turnaround seeing how Jr. not long ago went so far as to bar Chavez Sr. from training camp due to receiving instructions which conflicted with that given by Roach. This circumstance, along with family and other related problems, would according to young Julio contribute towards his first professional defeat.
Never mind that Jr. fought Martinez as if he were in a marijuana stupor for eleven some odd rounds, or that a lack of discipline during training camp was at issue. Having said that, it remains to be seen whether Baldenebro will be in control, or whether more of a father son tandem will emerge during the course of the fight.
If that happens, it’s up in the air whether Sr. will be effective in guiding his son, or whether sound instruction will give way to emotional reaction.
Then there’s the weight issue, a recurring theme within the Chavez camp that leads one to wonder whether or not the man once considered an illegitimate champion will be up to snuff.
Quite possibly responsible for being postponed twice rather than purported cuts sustained during training, Julio carrying serious poundage is no doubt the culprit in moving the Vera bout from the proposed middleweight limit of 160 to super middle or 168, with the latest news being the fight is to now occur at a 173 pound catchweight..
This for a fighter in Chavez Jr. who continues to play the energy sapping weight game as the true light-heavy or cruiserweight he is.
Throw into the mix the fact that great fighters like Chavez Sr. don’t always make great advisers, and perhaps a doggedly determined Vera who’s likewise faced worthy competition as of late, to include Andy Lee, Sergiy Dzinziruk, and Sergio Mora, can make inroads as the apparent underdog.
Stating he’s in great shape, Brian believes he’s in just the kind of shape that will allow him to continuously direct punches in bunches towards Jr.’s body, an approach the Austin native feels will be warranted, as well as effective knowing the reduction process his ballooned up opponent had to endure.
Add to that a solid team behind him to include head-trainer Ronnie Shields, and Chavez Jr. has his work cut out for him.
On the other hand, while the good news for fight fans is that Brian Vera is a warrior, by the same token the bad news for Brian Vera is that he’s a warrior. He’s simply earned that moniker, as many have, by way of possessing a less than efficient defense that leaves him vulnerable.
Lacking head movement during heated exchanges, Brian is prone to fading down the stretch where he begins to club with his punches. In light of this I see a much sharper Chavez Jr. who’s graduated from a protected fighter as able to handle if not steam roll Vera.
However, this scenario is quite contingent upon Jr. being on top of his game which is questionable at this point. If not, then the highly prepared Brian Vera in a bout he contends will have life changing implications may be able to turn the trick. Time will tell.
Catch all the action on an HBO Championship Boxing doubleheader this Saturday beginning at 10:15 ET/PT, to include Adonis “Superman” Stevens (21-1, 18 KO’s) in defense of what really amounts to Andre Ward’s WBC title, taking on Tallahassee, Florida’s Tarovis “Thunder” Cloud (24-1, 19 KO’s) in a split simulcast coming from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.