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Vera Looks to Even the Score

(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)
(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)

By Bill Tibbs


When Julio Cesar Chavez, 47-1-1 (32) and Bryan Vera, 23-7 (14), meet up for the second time in six months at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas (HBO) tonight, they will be both look to answer some questions. They will also both look to use the bout as a springboard to bigger fights later in the year.
 
There is already talk of Chavez enticing World Boxing Council (WBC) super middleweight champion Carl Froch over to Las Vegas later in the year if the British champion wins his upcoming rematch with George Groves. Froch would love to accommodate the Mexican star as he yearns to showcase his skills in front of an American audience. However, Texas tough guy Vera would love to beat Chavez and get slotted into a big bout with Froch or any other champion in the middle or super middleweight title mix. If Chavez can get by Vera in convincing fashion this time, a title shot later is more than likely later this year.

In their first fight, Vera was thought to be a tough but passable test for Julio but he turned out to be all that and more. Judging by post-fight reactions, many fans felt Vera did enough to earn the decision as he stayed neck in neck, if not carried the action, with the popular Chavez throughout the fight. However, the contest was close in spots and in close fights, not everyone is going to agree with the scores. However, the real drama and games started long before the first bell.
 
The weight for the fight was changed over and over again as it appeared that Chavez was struggling to bring his weight down into the super middle range. Vera, who does this for a living and was looking at a career-high payday, in reality, wasn’t in a financial position to turn down the fight. Also, Vera, a consummate pro, didn’t want to waste six hard weeks in the gym and walk away without a fight or a pay cheque. Sometimes as they say, despite all other factors, in boxing, if it makes dollars, it makes sense. And for Vera, he was in a good spot in many ways going into the fight. If he won, he would earn a bigger fight and equally significant payday down the line. If he lost but looked good doing it, there would be a call for a rematch so Chavez could seek redemption. And in both scenarios, the hard-working Texan’s bank balance goes north.
 
Heading into tussle number two, while the script should read that Chavez wins the rematch and moves onto bigger and better bouts, Vera and his team have other plans. Team Vera would like to show that Bryan indeed had a very good night last time out and can - and will - do it again. And that is why the fight was so close; it was not close just because Julio Jr. had an off night. Chavez will look to come into the fight in better condition and win the fight convincingly, leaving no doubt when the final scorecards are read. Vera will look to continue where he left off in the last bout and put an exclamation point on his strong outing last time with a convincing win. Top Rank Promotions boss Bob Arum, who handles Chavez, has already stated that a lot of the bout will hinge on Chavez’s training camp and how serious Chavez is about showing up in shape and focused. In initial pressers to announce the fight, Arum didn’t come out and say directly that Chavez fans won’t tolerate him showing up out of shape this time as he is very popular and has a very strong, devoted fan base among Mexican fans. However, you got the sense that Arum was hinting that, at some point, Chavez is going to empty his excuse account if he lacks discipline in preparation for this fight. In short, a lot of Chavez-based questions will be answered at the weigh-in before the bout.
 
In a recent chat with former world-rated fighter and Vera trainer Ronnie Shields, it was clear that a motivated and focused Vera plans to do all he did and more in their first bout regardless of what Chavez shows up. “Hey, Bryan followed the game plan and was successful and he’ll do it again,” the Houston-based Shields stated. “Training camp is going great; he’s doing everything he’s supposed to do. The last time, they said, ‘It wasn’t the best Chavez who showed up,’ but that isn’t our fault. So we expect the best Chavez this time again and we’ll be ready.” In regard to Chavez granting Vera a return bout, Shields said, “I wasn’t surprised we got the rematch. Where was Chavez gonna go? He didn’t want to fight [Andre] Ward or Froch. He knew he had to fight Bryan again because a lot of people saw [Chavez] lost.”
 
Chavez has a huge following, especially in the “Lone Star State,” but with the fight in San Antonio, Vera (who lives about 20 miles away) will “be on a little more even playing field,” according to Shields. With a huge upside to the winner, this fight looks like it is going to have all the heat and then some that can be mustered up on a cool Texas evening.
 
“Chavez is a good fighter,” Shields said. “He’s a good boxer but whatever he does that night, we’ll do a little better.”
 
Questions and comments can be sent to Bill Tibbs at hwtibbs@shaw.ca.
 
 
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