Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Chavez still reigning king of drama
By Dan Rafael
Former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is about to make his return, which means one thing: drama, be it inside or outside of the ring.
It has been a year since he lost a lopsided decision to middleweight champ Sergio Martinez, but Chavez sent a jolt of electricity through the crowd when he nearly knocked out Martinez in a frantic final minute that was as dramatic as anything I've ever seen.
After the fight, there was more drama as Chavez, who already had a previous DUI charge on his record, tested positive for marijuana. He was fined and suspended for nine months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Although Chavez was on ice, there was still more non-boxing drama. He battled with the Nevada commission, which eventually reduced the size of his fine. He split from trainer Freddie Roach and replaced him with his famous father, Hall of Famer Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., to work his corner. He cut ties with strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, who had helped him make weight so many times.
So when word began to spread in recent days that Chavez, notoriously heavy between fights, was having a terrible time making the contract weight of 168 pounds for his fight against Brian Vera on Saturday night (HBO, 10:15 ET/PT) at the StubCenter in Carson, Calif., it came as zero surprise.
Then on Monday, Chavez Sr. told the media that the weight limit for the fight had been increased to 173 pounds, despite there being a signed contract for 168. The supposed change in weight was news to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and Chavez co-promoter Fernando Beltran, as well as to Vera and his promoter, Artie Pelullo.
On a teleconference with boxing reporters on Tuesday, Arum tried to downplay Chavez Sr.'s announcement, saying no determination had been made about increasing the weight.
"We're going to take a look at what the fighters weigh [on Wednesday] and decide what the weight limit will be, so right now there is no determination on that," he said. "I know what Julio Sr. said, but I really believe that at the time he said it, he misspoke."
Chavez Jr. (46-1-1, 32 KOs) said that as of Tuesday afternoon he was already down to 173 pounds, which, compared to his usual troubles, puts him way ahead of the game in terms of making weight. But who knows if he was telling the truth. Chavez's track record would indicate that he was probably much heavier than 173.
Arum said he and Pelullo will meet to talk about the situation on Wednesday. Pelullo, however, told ESPN.com that Vera (23-6, 14 KOs) wouldn't be stepping on a scale on Wednesday. He said Vera has no issue making weight, that their contract calls for 168 pounds and that Vera is under no obligation to get on a scale except at Friday's official weigh-in.
When the fight was first being negotiated, Pelullo said the weight proposed was originally 162 pounds. Pelullo said the Chavez camp then kept inching it up, to 164, then to 165 and finally to 168.
Pelullo said he was as surprised as anyone to hear that Chavez Sr. said the weight would be increased yet again, especially now that there was a signed contract.
"I found out [Monday] night about what Senior said, that his son couldn't make weight and he wanted to raise the limit to 173," Pelullo said Tuesday evening in Los Angeles. "I found out from reporters who called me at my home. I just landed. Bob Arum and I will meet and discuss it [Wednesday]."
When asked if the meeting with Pelullo was simply about negotiating additional money for Vera to accept a heavier weight than what he signed for, Arum said, "I don't want to discuss that."
Arum said he first needed to meet with Pelullo, adding that his counterpart was "a professional promoter. We always manage to find a solution."
That solution -- and you can take this to the bank -- will simply mean that drama king Chavez will be allowed to buy his way to a heavier weight, with more cash going to Team Vera for their troubles.