By Sergio L. Martinez
San Antonio, Texas is quickly emerging as a major fight town, having recently hosted several big boxing events in the past two years, including Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s (47-1-1 with 32 KOs) unanimous decision victory over Marco Rubio in February 2012. That fight drew thousands of rabid fans to the Alamodome and Chavez delivered a great performance. This coming Saturday, the son of a Mexican legend is hoping to make a triumphant return to the Lone Star State and remove a misstep on his way back to world title contention. Chavez is slated to face Austin, Texas native Bryan Vera (23-7-0 with 14 KOs) for the second time in six months. Both of these combatants are high contact fighters and their initial meeting proved exciting.
For Chavez, the inaugural Bryan Vera fight was to be an easy return back into boxing after a one year hiatus following his defeat to Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez via unanimous decision. Vera’s job was a simple one: be tough, fight hard, give Chavez rounds to get rid of the ring rust and, in the end, lose. Vera complied with most of those unwritten stipulations that the opponent signature usually comes with – except for the losing part. Although the official scorecards tailed to a 10 round unanimous decision for Chavez, most fans and media in attendance and watching on television felt that the Austin, Texas resident deserved the nod.
The J.C. Jr. camp and the man himself stated that the first fight was simply a miscalculation, a fluke; Julio Cesar also claimed an injury immediately after the fight. Chavez, who was clearly not in top shape for the initial meeting in September 2013, swears that he has done everything this time around to be in optimum condition and will not have any trouble making the contracted weight limit, unlike the original encounter. Vera, who continues to work with veteran trainer Ronnie Shields, has steadily improved in his last four fights. If Chavez truly does show up in top form, he will likely be able to land shots at will and punish Vera for as long as the fight lasts. Should the Mexican standout have conditioning issues (again) it is likely that Vera’s activity will make the difference (again), even if he again fails to get the win on the cards.
This rematch has huge implications for both men as the television business of boxing is very unforgiving and dates on major networks are usually reserved for “clean” records. Fighters like Vera (with seven official losses on his resume) can only continue to receive primetime network money by overcoming their underdog roles and vanquishing the favorite. The tough Texan has pulled off a few upsets in his career and officially taking down a big name like Chavez would guarantee him at least one more solid payday. In Julio Cesar’s case, he is the son of boxing royalty and bears his father’s legacy which instantly afforded him opportunities. Prior to the Vera debacle, Chavez was forging his own path as even in defeat to Martinez; Junior put up a hell of a fight and almost pulled it off via a 12th round knockout. Officially losing to Vera would definitely be a serious setback and arouse more questions about Julio Cesar’s viability. Chavez must not only defeat Vera in this fight; he must win big to reclaim some of his lost luster.
Now that all of the talk is just about done and training camps are in full remission, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Bryan Vera must once again ponder stepping into that squared circle and basically attempt to decapitate the other. Considering what is stake for both men, and the ferocity that both boxing pundits usually exhibit, fight fans present and those watching on television are sure to be treated to a brutal affair for as long as it may last. For Vera, his immediate future hangs in the balance and for J.C. Jr, his own identity is on the line. This is the kind of theater that only boxing can provide.
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