Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was so close to gaining mine and much of the boxing community’s respect again during his March 1 unanimous decision win over Bryan Vera. But then the 12th and final round happened.
Before explaining last Saturday night, let’s take a look at what already made Chavez Jr. the undisputed winner as my least favorite boxer. First, he barely showed up for the biggest fight of his career, a middleweight showdown with Argentine southpaw Sergio Martinez that took place on Sept. 15, 2012. Although Martinez was the favorite, it was unexpected how easily he was dominating the fight through the first 11 rounds.
Then, with three minutes left, Chavez Jr. started to finally execute his punches, knocking Martinez down and almost knocking him out. What was once a blowout win on the scorecards for Martinez almost became a knockout victory for Chavez Jr. Then, days later, we found out the true reason why it took so long for the son of Mexico’s favorite fighter, Julio Cesar Chavez, to show up for the prizefight: Chavez Jr. failed a pre-fight drug test, testing positive for marijuana.
How much disrespect do you have for the sport to knowingly fail a drug test for something as stupid as weed? It gets worse, for Chavez Jr. was suspended nine months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and came back for his 168-pound September super-middleweight tilt with journeyman Bryan Vera at 172 pounds, clearly not taking his training seriously.
That fight, which also paid Vera more than the original contract and in which Vera’s team lowered from 12 rounds to 10 all because of Chavez’s weight issues, looked to go the way of the Texan, who threw 723 punches to Chavez’s 320. Chavez’s own fans booed the scores.
Since that decision (which was not totally wrong to go in Chavez Jr.’s favor, but by no way should it have been 98-92, 97-3, 96-94), the 28-year-old had seemed to make all the right moves. He gave Vera the rematch he rightfully deserved and delivered on the fact the he would make weight. Chavez also demonstrated that he took his training seriously by overpowering Vera almost throughout the whole fight, landing 235 punches to his opponent’s 205 while at a much higher connect rate (49 percent to Vera’s 21).
However, there was still three minutes left until the final bell. Instead of staying close in on Vera, Chavez literally ran around the ring. The eventual winner topped his jogging clinic when he started hot dogging it with less than a minute to go. Chavez pulled the outdated arm swing tactic that has not been cool since Sugar Ray Leonard did it in his 1980 win over Roberto Duran. Boos rightfully rained down from the 7,323 in San Antonio’s Alamodome.
I was hoping Vera would knock down Chavez just for good measure by this point, but rather Vera fell victim of the “Leonard Arm Swing” and his gloves dolefully hit the canvas. Vera, who moved to 23-8 with the loss, should have been docked a point by referee Rafael Ramos, but the fall happened with a mere few seconds left and would not have affected the scorecards.
Now Chavez Jr., one of the best draws in boxing, is back in line for some major pay days. He said post-fight that he is looking for either a rematch with Martinez or a showdown with one of my favorite fighters, 2013 Fighter of the Year Gennady Golovkin. Either fight would be at 160 pounds, which Chavez Jr. has not fought at since his first Martinez fight.
“The Son of the Legend” would be the underdog against the older and speedy Martinez, or the knockout artist Golovkin, and something tells me that either fight will come with the usual Chavez Jr. theatrics. You know who I will be pulling for.