During their September hook-up, Vera wasn’t informed of the newly-formed “Chavez-weight” till the night before the weigh-in, which made things rather difficult the last few days. Unlike most fighters who start the process of cutting weight and/or drying out, Vera didn’t know if he had to actually put on a few pounds.
“We were like, ‘Do we get in the sauna a little bit? Do we eat?’ It kinda threw us off a little bit but we actually ate the day of the weigh-in. I was like 170 and then they said they were going to change the weight. So then I got to eat a little bit more and I only got up to 171. So it was just a mess, man,” said Vera, who had to literally wait the whole summer to face Chavez Jr. Last year, there was talk of this fight happening in June, July, August and then officially scheduled for September 7th before Chavez suffered a cut a couple of weeks before the fight. Eventually, this bout took place on September 28th.
Throughout it all, Vera remained a pro. He rarely left the gym during this period. He isn’t the most talented prizefighter you’ll ever see but perhaps the greatest compliment you can give him is he’s the ultimate overachiever who squeezes every ounce of ability from his skill set. And really, he had no choice but to fight Chavez Jr. on his terms. This was an opportunity that may never come along again and quite frankly, he needed the money. In this business, you get paid to perform, not just practice.
But according to Vera, who’s more of a middleweight than anything else, fighting north of 170 wasn’t particularly disadvantageous.”Before going in, I was like, ‘Man, he’s going to be heavy if he’s leaning on me,’ but when the fight started, I put pressure on and he was backing up the whole time. So it really didn’t affect me during the fight because he never came at me hard; he never laid on me. It was more him just backpedaling. It actually surprised me but it threw me off a little bit but as the fight went on, it didn’t bother me at all.”
Vera says the fight “was easier than what I expected. I expected him, like with a lot of guys, to bully me but I think he felt how I thought I was going to be at the beginning. He knew I was pretty physical myself, so he went to boxing mode to run a little bit. So it was actually a little easier than I expected.”
And after 10 rounds, most observers believed he had done enough to get his hands raised in victory.
“Oh, without a doubt, Bryan won the fight," said Ronnie Shields, who certainly isn’t an unbiased observer given the fact he’s Vera’s trainer. But he’s convinced his man was given the shaft in Carson, California. “Look, he won it because [Vera] landed more; he threw more. He outworked [Chavez]; he did everything in a fight that you’re supposed to do and didn’t get a decision. It had to be one of the worst decisions ever in the history of boxing ever.”
Well, OK, Ronnie, while it was a questionable call, c’mon; it wasn’t that bad. But the point is taken; Vera deserved better than he received that night.
The expectation is that a rejuvenated Chavez Jr. will be much better this time around. This line of thinking has been thrown around so much, it’s become the dominant narrative coming into this weekend. However, Shields, an old-school veteran of the sport, doesn’t believe a lazy tiger can change its stripes. “I am sick of hearing it,” he admitted to Maxboxing. “That’s why I don’t even pay attention to it. You call yourself a fighter and that’s what you have to be - a fighter. You can’t be a fighter sometime and then all of a sudden now, you’re a fighter again. They made this kid sit the first time because he wasn’t in shape; well, whose fault is that? It’s your fault. That’s nobody else’s fault.”
Vera says, “I’m just busting my ass making sure that even if he’s in better shape, it’s going to be the same outcome. But you can’t change that quick. Y’ know what I mean? He’s got the same guy working out with him, his little best friend or whoever the hell that trainer guy is. But he doesn’t have anybody that he respects telling him what to do. Even when he does supposedly respect them - he doesn’t listen. So he’s still doing it the way he wants to and that’s just not the way. With me, I got Ronnie Shields. You say no to him and he’ll say, ‘Get your ass outta the gym and go home.’ I think you gotta have that. But [Chavez] does it his way.”
Vera, who has record of 23-7 (14), believes his best boxing is still in front of him.
“I got maybe three, four more years of doing it and I’m at my best right now because I’ve gotten with Ronnie my last six, seven fights and I think he’s someone I really respect and I listen to on everything he tells me and I feel I can get better in every fight,” he stated. The 32-year-old, who began his pro career in 2004, is not only making a career-high payday for this rematch; he stands to collect another 250-large if Chavez comes in heavy. And yeah, he admits, with that on the line, he wouldn’t be too upset if Chavez tipped the scales above 168 pounds. Vera believes he can win this fight regardless.
“I think that’s every fighter. They might say no but if he comes in a pound or two over, look, I’m not going to be that pissed off, y’ know what I’m saying?” he said with a hearty laugh. “But if he makes the weight, more power to him. I think that’s going to take a lot outta him but if he comes above it, I’m not going to be mad either way.”
Here’s my latest contribution to SportsonEarth.com on Floyd Mayweather’s decision to face Marcos Maidana:
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