Julio Cesar Chavez Jr was the favorite posterboy of former WBC Honcho For Life Jose Suleiman, R.I.P. He is also the favorite target of wrathful fans still furious over him being named after his legendary father, but now Junior looks to right his wrongs of his last bout against former Contender star Brian Vera with their rematch in the San Antone Alamodome on the first day of March 2014.
Junior was coming off a long suspension for marijuana use, way longer and infinitely more expensive than that handed down by the derided NSAC who slapped Floyd Mayweather promoted Mickey Bey with a bare 3 month suspension/$1000 fine after testing 30x over allowable “normal” testosterone levels. There’s no use in looking for justice in Nevada whose honchos were also quoted as saying they would no long rubber stamp fights after emasculated howls of Mayweather fans shook up Nevada big shots over the Saul Alvarez results.
So out with the old Nevada honchos and in with the new Nevada honchos with fresh, shiny faces and redesigned teflon rubberstamps.
Junior was so overweight in his return from suspension that the Vera fight was hopelessly lost unless Vera allowed enough leeway for Junior to squeeze in at 172.5 lbs. The usual flood of vitriol followed even before his disputed win, the public outrage being such that the Vera rematch was the best lucrative option as Top Rank struggled with what division the ever growing Junior will end up in.
Junior was also heavily disparaged during the most acclaimed moment of his career when he nearly pulled off a stunning knockout of reigning middleweight champ Sergio Martinez as time was running out. A chip off his ol’man’s block he looked as he damn near reprised the storied Meldrick Taylor knockout in a bout of legend that still gets folks grills broiling over the officiating “controversy.”
It just so happens that San Antone is a great place for an all action mano a mano fight that the rematch guarantees to be. Junior “promises” to be better prepared at the reported 168 lb contract weight, still well over Vera’s optimum weight, but the Texas born and bred Vera must be feeling good about the rematch which is netting him a large purse and more recognition than he’s had in his solid career thus far. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the WBC add a bauble for them to scrap over, like an Interim Diamond Doodle Belt or an Inaugaral Platinum Poodle Belt, whatever fecundity they can come up with to tickle the WBC coffers.
As such this will be a moment of truth for both fighters. Vera needs to put on another good showing that might well land him a middleweight title shot down the road since I can’t see him really contesting against top super middleweights. Junior’s future is more uncertain in that he can no longer squeeze into the middleweight division and may well have problems making 168 lbs. He has so overgrown his natural big fight rivals, Saul Alvarez and Sergio Martinez, that the WBC went and rated him as mandatory to aging WBC 168 lb champion Sika Biko, a fight Junior could well win if he shows he can squeeze under the 168 lb trip wire. Andre Ward and Carl Froch have been making noises about easy money fights against him, but I doubt his sugar daddy Bob Arum would sacrifice him just yet when Junior could possibly have a successful run of WBC super middleweight title fights against the usual suspects.
The undercard features a fascinating bout for the simon purist guaranteed to be a grave insult to other ranked fighters and boxing critics. The highly acclaimed two time Olympic Gold Medalist southpaw Vasyl Lomachenko with a 396-1 amateur record that is likely the best in history, he challenges current WBO feather champ Orlando Salido, 40-12-2, 28 KO. The just turned 26 year old Lomachenko has only a single recognized pro fight against journeyman Jose Ramirez, a dubious bout that looked like a weak set up for the WBO International featherweight bauble that Ramirez had only won the fight before. Salido may have some heavy use miles at 33 yrs of age and 358 rounds of war, but he’s still as hard a fighter as can be found in boxing who utterly destroyed the much touted P4P Puerto Rican phenom Juan Manuel Lopez, blasting him out twice for good measure. Poor Lopez has yet to recover his form.
Why the sudden push of Lomachenko to a title is likely to be found in the money HBO will be offering for the spectacle they expect to make out of it. I have nothing good to say about the bout given the shaky circumstances of Lomachenko’s first fight, but he’s the latest promotional darling and money fighter so look for the ref and the judges to give him all the breaks as they nickle and dime Salido in the ring and on the cards. I waive any further comments until I have a chance to review the fight for “relevancy,” but if waged legitimately and Lomachenko indeed turns out to be “the one,” well of course it would be good for boxing. Unfortunately more promoters will be looking to bum rush willing novice fighters into the limelight of a title as the panic over the impending retirement of aging PPV stars with nobody to replace them spreads.
Perhaps with near 400 amateur ama bouts plus a reported half dozen fights under the auspices of the AIBA organized World Series of Boxing that he won, Lomachenko may not be boxing’s virginal, fresh faced cherub, but the step up in conditioning alone is huge at the championship pro level not to mention the power and variety of punches and stratagies used.
We’ll see soon enough what the refs, judges, and antisocial media ninnies have to say about this promotion which seems almost guaranteed to kick off the year in controversy.