By Marc Livitz: It was almost a night to remember for all the right reasons. So close to an unforgettable evening where the beaten came so very near to becoming the unexpected victor. On September 15 of last year, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. had the crazed fans in attendance at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas literally on their respective heels. He had been soundly outclassed, out boxed and outfoxed over eleven solid rounds by middleweight king, Sergio Martinez. The following is an excerpt from this reporter’s live ringside description of the twelfth and final period.
“Sergio was moving as always and trying to protect his lead. Chavez, Jr. was a bit turned around, but he quickly found his bearings and popped Martinez with two hard rights to the head. He caught him with a straight right and followed up with a crushing left to nearly send Martinez through the ropes. Martinez fell to the canvas but quickly rose to his feet.”
Although Chavez, Jr. would ultimately taste defeat for the first time as a professional as well as lose his WBC middleweight title via unanimous decision, his valiant will and determination shown on that fall evening left many boxing fans craving for a rematch. Alas, it was not to be. Julio later tested positive for marijuana and was fined $900,000 by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. He also received a nine month retroactive ban from the ring. Times have changed since then. The son of Mexico’s all-time greatest fighter is set to make his return to the ring this coming Saturday night in Carson, California, just outside of Los Angeles. Gone from his corner is legendary trainer, Freddie Roach.
Chavez, Jr. (46-1-1, 32 KO’s) skipped any sort of tune up style of bout for his return to the ring. He’s also past the leeway point for fighting who many called the “who’s not” variety of fighters which made up much of his early fighting resume. The Culiacan, Sinaloa, MX boxer will find Brian “The Warrior” Vera (23-6, 14 KO’s) of Austin, Texas in the opposing corner on Saturday night. The 168 pound clash will take place at the StubHub Center and will be televised on HBO’s “World Championship Boxing” this Saturday evening. Although the bout was originally set to have a weight limit of 168, Julio, Jr.’s father was recently quoted as indicating that the bar had been moved up to as high as 173 pounds.
This afternoon from the Azteca Gym in Los Angeles, Chavez, Jr. and legendary promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank spoke to the media on an international conference call. Quotes listed below.
Opening Statements, Chavez, Jr.: “Training camp has gone well and I am ready for this fight. I’m excited to get back into the ring. I want to give the fans the excitement they deserve. That’s what I always try to do.”
Bob Arum on Contracted Weight: “We’ll look at what they (Chavez, Jr. and Vera) weigh tomorrow and decide what the weight limit will be. I’ve talked with Vera’s promoter, Artie Pelullo and we’re having breakfast tomorrow morning to discuss the weight issues. I know what Julio, Sr. said, but I do believe that he misspoke.”
Chavez, Jr.’s Thoughts on Saturday’s Bout: “It’s a very important fight. I’m coming off a loss. It was very hard to take, but I want to show everyone that I’m back.”
Julio on Making Weight: “I think that it’s time for me to move up (from middleweight to super middleweight) and that’s been our goal. My health wasn’t at its best when I had to get down to 160. This is not a championship fight, but I’m getting as close to 168 as I can. The only way that I’ll go back to 160 is if I get another shot at Sergio Martinez. Right now, I weigh 173. People have to realize just how hard I train. I became a world champion at 160 and had four title defenses. I was ready for those fights and I won three of them. People just don’t realize how hard it is for me to make it to 160.”