Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has had a full year to think about what happened before and during his last right, a unanimous decision loss to Sergio Martinez that could rightly be described as "lopsided" as well as "the one that got away" -- in more ways than one.
For 10-and-a-half rounds Martinez carved up Chavez like a Christmas turkey with razor-sharp punches and made his face look like a serving of mashed potatoes with all its lumps and bumps. But in the 11th, and especially in the final minute of the fight, Chavez summoned up a near-historic rally that included a knockdown that injured Martinez's knee. The final scorecards hardly indicated just how close Chavez came to duplicating his father's unforgettable rally against Meldrick Taylor 22 years earlier.
Chavez Jr. also hurt himself by smoking marijuana during his preparation, which resulted in a failed drug test, a nine-month suspension and a $900,000 fine- which was later reduced to a $100,000 fine. By not giving himself the best chance to win outside the ring, he couldn't possibly win inside the ring -- and yet he almost did.
Saturday will mark his first fight back and his opponent -- rugged veteran Brian Vera -- is no easy mark. He has won six of his last seven fights, including four straight, and at age 31 he seems to be at the peak of his form. Two victories over Sergio Mora and two straight KOs, including one over longtime WBO junior middleweight titlist Sergiy Dzinziruk, has earned Vera yet another chance to break through and potentially earn his first crack at a major title.
Statistical factors that may influence the outcome include: