Chavez Beats Vera Again, This Time Without Controversy

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo: Will Hart

Fight Recaps: Chavez vs. Vera | Salido vs. Lomachenko

Highlights: Chavez vs. Vera | Salido vs. Lomachenko

This time there was no controversy, no booing by the crowd at the decision, no looks of bewilderment from the media – except perhaps over one of the scorecards, which was closer than it should have been. For the second time in five months, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr scored a unanimous decision win over Bryan Vera, but whereas the previous victory was shrouded in dispute and discord, this one was emphatic.

At times, Saturday’s main event in San Antonio morphed from professional boxing to Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, or a fight scene from a Rocky movie. Scribbling notes about the action in the ring almost became a case of writing “Chavez lands a huge right hand” and “Vera comes back with a right hand of his own,” over and over. Cut and paste.

For twelve rounds, Chavez (48-1-1, 32 KOs) and Vera threw everything they had at each other. The difference, ultimately, was that Chavez landed harder, he landed at a higher rate – the connect percentage on his power punches was a ridiculous 62 percent – and he landed with greater variety. He was, at the end of the day, simply better. 

He needed to be, because Vera (23-8, 14 KOs) showed what he had shown in the previous contest: that he is possessed of relentless energy and a determination to keep coming forward no matter what kind of punishment is being flung in his direction. In the first fight, Chavez had been too slow, too still; even though on that occasion, too, his punches were the more authoritative, he allowed Vera to outwork him with a blistering fusillade of blows of his own. This time, the Mexican boxed far more intelligently and with greater activity from the beginning, stepping forward with his jab and throwing thudding left hooks that Vera seemed powerless to avoid. Chavez mixed up his punches, throwing to Vera’s body and causing him to drop his guard, and then switching upstairs, and following up his hooks with hellacious right hands that repeatedly snapped Vera’s head around and sent the spray flying.

Round after round, Vera would begin brightly enough, but each time Chavez would grind him down with his heavy-fisted assault until, at the end of each three-minute spell, Vera would take a deep breath and head back to the corner looking increasingly ragged. But then after a minute of recovery, he would come back out again and start firing – his uppercut proving especially effective – until Chavez would resume his assault anew.

Throughout it all, the crowd lustily roared its approval, never more so than during an extraordinary eleventh round in which Chavez, showing his first signs of tiring, suddenly landed a left/right combination that looked to have Vera almost out on his feet. But the next blow apparently woke him up, as the Texan simply smiled again and threw more combinations of his own.

Cut and paste.

The twelfth saw Chavez running out the clock, doing the Ali shuffle and staying out of trouble – a necessary consequence, he said afterward, of having hurt his right hand in the previous frame. When that twelfth round was completed, the scores were unanimous – 114-113, 117-110, and 117-110 again – in the Mexican’s favor.

“I thought the fight was really close,” said Vera. “A lot closer than it was on the scorecards. I thought the fight should have been scored closer.”

But there were no real complaints from the loser, merely an acknowledgement that, as much as his face-first fighting style is exciting, it may not be in his best interests.

“I’m a fighter and I always give people great fights,” he said. “I’ve got a tough chin. We grew up rough. My mom and dad raised us to be tough kids. I’m too hard-headed and I need to work on things to be a smarter fighter to get where I want to get.”

For Chavez, who had been heavily criticized for failing to come close to making weight for the first fight, the take-home lesson was equally simple.

“Vera saw a better Julio this time,” he said. “The real difference in this fight was that I was on weight.”

Experience Matters as Salido Holds on For Win over Lomachenko

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo: Will Hart

Fight Recaps: Chavez vs. Vera | Salido vs. Lomachenko

Highlights: Chavez vs. Vera | Salido vs. Lomachenko

There has, over the last several weeks and months, been much touting of Vasyl Lomachenko as the future of boxing, and he may yet prove to be; but on Saturday night in San Antonio, the much-decorated amateur found that experience in the professional ranks is not something to be taken lightly, as he dropped a split decision to Orlando Salido in the co-main event on World Championship Boxing.

Of course, Salido (41-12-2, 28 KOs) is not new to the role of spoiler: his two stoppage victories over Juan Manuel Lopez in 2011 and 2012 effectively ended the Puerto Rican’s career as a top-flight fighter. And there were plenty who wondered whether, no matter how skilled he might be, Lomachenko (1-1, 1 KO) was biting off more than he could chew by taking on such an experienced champion in just his second professional fight.

The first round gave little indication either way, as the two men looked at each other, Salido circling away as Lomachenko feinted and stalked; but over the next several frames, the Mexican veteran began to give his young challenger a lesson in the realities of professional prizefighting, as he walked him down and worked him hard with looping punches to the ribcage and kidneys – and, on more than a few occasions, parts of the anatomy where legal blows are not supposed to land, but for which he went repeatedly unpunished by referee Laurence Cole.

Lomachenko began to find his groove in the fifth, firing off two-and-three-punch combinations and pivoting away as Salido came forward, but those punches had little effect on an opponent who failed to make weight and on fight night unofficially weighed 147 pounds - 11 more than Lomachenko.

Yet every time Lomachenko seemed to be building a head of steam, Salido would come back, swarming him, throwing punch after punch, looking to land everywhere he could. After ten, it began to seem that the Ukrainian challenger had let his chance slip away, but he came out for the eleventh with a new sense of purpose, rattling Salido with combinations and then, finally, in the twelfth, hurting him badly with a right hand to the head and one to the body. With more than a minute remaining, Salido was in desperate trouble, but he clung to Lomachenko for dear life, forcing the two-time Olympic gold medalist to rip his hands free and resume his assault.

Salido survived, but only just. Lomachenko’s charge was too little, too late, as Salido won a split decision by scores of 113-115, 115-113 and 116-112.

Lomachenko was philosophical in defeat.

“I did my best. It didn’t work out. I’ve got to go home and review the tape,” he said.

“He’s very smart, he has good movement,” said Salido of his fallen foe. “I knew I had to keep throwing punches. I tried to land all the punches I could. In my opinion, my experience was the difference.”

Salido, Not Chavez, Misses the Mark and Pays the Piper

By Kieran Mulvaey

Photo Credit: Will Hart (Click image for full slideshow)

More: Stakes High for Rematch | HBO Boxing Podcast | CompuBox

There have been times when Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. gives the impression that he regards weight limits as not so much fixed and mandatory as approximate and even aspirational – and on no occasion was this more evident than his first meeting with Brian Vera, for which the contracted limit had to be changed to accommodate Chavez’s waistline. (Chavez, of course, has that kind of pull because he is the Son of the Legend, whereas Vera is merely Mr. and Mrs. Vera’s baby boy.)

But the fallout from that debacle provided him with plenty of motivation to do better this time – not in the form of the opprobrium directed his way by fans and media, but in a $250,000 portion that he would be obliged to forfeit if he missed weight again (which would make Mr. and Mrs. Vera’s baby boy a much richer man).

And when Chavez stepped on the scales outside the Alamodome on a sunny Friday afternoon, it was immediately clear that this time around, he means business. He weighed in the same as his opponent – 167.5 lbs., one half-pound inside the super-middleweight limit – and behind him, one of his team waved an oversize check, made out to Vera, for $250,000 but emblazoned with the word ‘Void.’

One of the boxers on Saturday’s HBO World Championship Boxing telecast did miss weight, however: Orlando Salido, who forfeited his featherweight title when he tipped the scales at 128.25 lbs., two and a quarter pounds heavy. His challenger, Vasyl Lomachenko, was fully three pounds lighter. As a result, Lomachenko – who pocketed an extra $15,000 from the comparatively corpulent Salido – remains on course to make history and become a world champion in only his second professional fight; but even if he wins, Salido will not exit the ring with the belt wrapped around his waist. 

HBO Boxing Podcast - Episode 1 - Chavez Jr. vs. Vera II Preview

Watch: One-on-One with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

HBO Boxing's Kieran Mulvaney goes one-on-one with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. ahead of his fight against Bryan Vera on Saturday at 9:45pm ET/PT on HBO World Championship Boxing:

More: Stakes High for Rematch | HBO Boxing Podcast | CompuBox

Watch: One-on-One with Bryan Vera

Bryan Vera chats with HBO Boxing's Kieran Mulvaney ahead of his rematch against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.:

More: Stakes High for Rematch | HBO Boxing Podcast | CompuBox

Watch: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Bryan Vera II Press Conference

HBO Boxing's Kieran Mulvaney checks in from San Antonio at the final press conference between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Bryan Vera. The two will face off from The Alamodome Saturday at 9:45pm ET/PT on HBO World Championship Boxing:

More: Stakes High for Rematch | HBO Boxing Podcast | CompuBox

Watch: One-on-One with Vasyl Lomachenko

HBO Boxing's Kieran Mulvaney chats with two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko ahead of his fight against Orlando Salido:

Watch: One-on-One with Orlando Salido

HBO Boxing's Kieran Mulvaney goes one-on-one with Orlando Salido as he prepares for his undercard bout against Vasyl Lomachenko, Saturday at 9:45pm ET/PT:

More: Stakes High for Rematch | HBO Boxing Podcast | CompuBox

Watch: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Bryan Vera I

By Kieran Mulvaney

More: Stakes High for Rematch | HBO Boxing Podcast | CompuBox

In the first meeting between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Bryan Vera, Chavez scored a unanimous decision win in a fight that most ringside observers thought he had lost. Vera is out for revenge on HBO World Championship Boxing this Saturday at 9:45 PM ET/PT, but in the meantime you can watch that controversial first fight in its entirety.

What to Watch For:
In the end, judging the fight came down to a matter of preference: do you like volume punching or hard, accurate blows? CompuBox stats showed that Vera threw more than twice as many punches as Chavez, and outlanded his opponent in eight out of ten rounds. But when Chavez did throw punches, it seemed he could hardly miss: he landed 50 percent or more of his power shots in eight rounds and in round six his accuracy soared to 67 percent.