The September 28th HBO main event between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (47-1-1, 32 knockouts) and Bryan Vera (23-7, 14 knockouts) was a fight that lent itself to a disturbing and growing trend in boxing. Just like last weekends now infamous C.J. Ross “draw” scorecard for Mayweather vs. Canelo, the bout between Chavez and Vera was one that was overshadowed by shoddy judging and another questionable decision.
Going into the bout, the drama surrounding the fight was centered on the agreed upon fight weight rather than conflict between the fighter’s themselves. As the fight neared, no weight was set, but upon weigh-in day it was clear that Chavez wasn’t gonna be able to make the 168-pound weight limit that was finally agreed upon. This led to further frustration (and a little more money) from Vera, and the catchweight of 173-lbs. was set between the two fighters.
After the opening bell, it was clear that Chavez was the bigger man. Looking as if he had re-hydrated to around 180-190 lbs., many were anticipating a slaughter. This was especially due to the fact that Vera had never fought anyone above 168 lbs. before. In classic boxing fashion, you can never count out the underdog, but you certainly can rob him.
In the opening rounds of the bout, Vera did everything he could to seize as much momentum as he probably could from Chavez and his fans. Setting a relentless pace early, Vera was finding his mark often with a snapping jab and thudding right hands. Although they didn’t necessarily hurt the iron-chinned Chavez, they were landing with consistency thus theoretically winning him points.
Still, Chavez made his presence known and felt throughout the fight. Although not the busier of the two fighters, he certainly was the more powerful. As Vera would come forth with an assault of offense, Chavez would respond with a booming power shot of his own. At time in the fight Vera was (self-admittedly) dazed, but one can’t help but wonder if the broadcast team was presenting these shots as far form damaging then they actually appeared. Even with the disparity in power, Vera was the busier fighter in most of the rounds, and to many was developing a healthy points lead.
As the fight wore on it was clear that Chavez wasn’t in the best of shape. Vera did his best to capitalize, but his inability to put Chavez away had to have been frustrating. Vera remained the aggressor until the later rounds approached. Suddenly, Chavez began landing his power shots with a shocking consistency and it no doubt began to affect Vera. Even in a rather dazed state, Vera proved to have the kind of heart and game-ness that is normally found in sports movies as he still stood in front of the much bigger Chavez, and traded shots with him.
At the sound of the final bell, many at home and at ring-side were convinced that Vera had done enough to walk away with the win. Once again, the judges seemed to have watched a completely different fight play out from their seats. The judges “awarded” the unanimous decision to Chavez on scores of (96-94), (97-93), and (98-92). Amongst a sea of “Boos”, Chavez walked away the victor while Vera was robbed of one of the biggest victories of his careers. It’s enough to make even the most die-hard fan question the status of the sport, but all one can hope is that this serves as the wake up call that the sport so badly needs when it comes to proper officiating.
It’s unclear where Vera may go from here, but after Saturday night’s performance there’s no doubt that he’ll have some new eyes watching whoever he is matched-up against next. As for Chavez, he’ll have to prove that what happened against Vera was a fluke. With his decision to stay and challenge for a belt at 168 lbs., fans will be more anxious to see if he manages to win the fight with the scale rather than his next opponent.