HBO Boxing Preview: Chavez Jr. vs. Vera, Lomachenko vs. Salido


By: William Holmes

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was given a favorable decision the last time he was in the ring, and it was decision that most boxing experts disagreed with. He defeated Bryan Vera on the judges’ scorecards with scores of 98-92, 96-94, and 97-93. In the minds of most observers however, he lost that bout, and the outrage was so great afterwards that his promoters were left with no choice but to grant Vera a rematch.

On Saturday night Chavez Jr. gets a chance to avenge that debatable victory when he takes on Bryan Vera again in San Antonio, Texas. HBO will also be televising Vasyl Lomachenko’s world title shot against Orlando Salido for the WBO Featherweight title.

The following is a preview of both of the televised bouts.

Orlando Salido (40-12-2) vs. Vasyl Lomachenko (1-0); WBO Featherweight Title

You have to be a special kind of prospect to receive a title shot, and a shot at a legitimate title, in only your second professional fight.

Lomachenko is that special kind of prospect. The twenty six year old Ukranian is a two time Olympic gold medalist and won gold medals in both the featherweight and lightweight division. He had an amazing amateur record of 396-1 and avenged his only defeat to in the amateurs to Albert Selimov.

In 2008 he was named the outstanding boxer in the Olympic Games and has also won the gold medal in the world amateur championships twice. His amateur background is deep, and he also demonstrated that he’s a successful amateur boxer with knockout power. He stopped Jose Ramirez in the fourth round in his professional debut, and Ramirez had a solid record of 25-3 at that point.

Top Rank has recently signed a lot of gold medalists from the Olympics, but none has a higher ceiling than Lomachenko. His stable mate Zou Shiming is also a two time Olympic Gold Medalist, but he is six years older than Lomachenko and doesn’t appear to have the power and defensive prowess that the professional ranks require in order to be successful. Lomachenko does have that skill set.

Additionally, when Lomachenko last competed as an amateur he won the Gold medal two weight divisions higher than where he currently competes.

Orlando Salido is your prototypical rugged, tough, a battle tested veteran. Salido is similar in height and reach to Lomachenko, but he is seven years older and has been through far more wars.

Salido has decent power but not great. Twenty eight of his victories have come by way of stoppage, including his last six bouts. Salido defeats the opponents he is supposed to beat and has had a few upset victories, but when he faces a boxer who is a better technician than him he tends to crumble.

He was dominant in his seventh round knockout of Orlando Cruz in his last bout, and he shocked many by defeating Juan Manuel Lopez twice. His other notable victories include Cristobal Cruz, Hector Avila, and Carlos Gerena. He does have a large amount of losses, and many came earlier in his career. He’s been defeated by the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez, Yuriorkis Gamboa, and Mikey Garcia.

The longer Salido can survive Lomachenko the better the chances are of him winning the bout. Salido is a gritty fighter and he’ll need that grit if he hopes to win. But he’s often failed against master technicians when inside the ring and it will be a shocking upset if defeats Lomachenko.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (47-1) vs. Bryan Vera (23-7); Super Middleweight

In their first matchup in Carson, California Bryan Vera threw more than double the number of punches Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. threw, but still somehow lost on the scorecards. It’s hard to imagine the judges getting the decision wrong the second time around, especially considering the backlash that followed the last decision. But, this is boxing, and the only way Vera may be able to guarantee a victory is to stop Chavez Jr.

We should know tomorrow night if Chavez Jr. decided to take the fight seriously. He came in four pounds overweight the last time they fought and looked slow and disinterested at times. Another performance like that will not only hurt his chances at winning the fight, but will also hurt his chances at landing another large payday.

Chavez Jr. is a bigger fighter, and he is also taller, longer, and four years younger. Chavez Jr. has thirty two stoppages to his record, but only two of his last five victories have come by way of stoppage. His lone loss came to Sergio Martinez in September of 2012, but he has been the recipient of questionable decision before. Many felt he Matt Vanda beat him in 2008 and some felt Sebastian Zbik beat him in 2011. Chavez has defeated the likes of Andy Vera, Marco Antonio Rubio, Peter Manfredo Jr., and John Duddy.

Bryan Vera is a boxer who has spent most of his career fighting just below the elite level, but when he was given an opportunity against Chavez Jr. he made the most out of it. He competed on The Contender in 2007 but was eliminated in the first round. Vera has spent most of his career fighting in the middleweight division and is considered by most to be small for the super middleweight division.

Vera has had some tough losses, including losses to Andy Lee, Max Bursak, James Kirkland, and Craig McEwan. Vera has also had some shocking upsets. He defeated Andy Lee in 2008, and he also defeated Sergio Mora (twice), Serhiy Dzinziruk, and Sebastien Demers. His victories over Mora and Dzinziruk really got the attention of fight fans and helped put his name back in title contention.

If Vera hopes to win on Saturday he will have to put in the best performance of his career and will likely need a stoppage. However, this writer finds it hard to believe Chavez Jr. won’t come in shape on Saturday and will not have taken Vera lightly in their second bout.

Chavez Jr. needs a good performance on Saturday if he hopes to challenge for a super middleweight belt in the near future, but if he turns in another performance like he did against Vera the first time they fought, he can’t rely on the judges to bail him out again.

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