- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
Former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was temporarily suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Tuesday in an expected procedural move because of his positive test for marijuana in the wake of a unanimous decision loss to world champion Sergio Martinez on Sept. 15 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The suspension was handed out at the commission's regular monthly meeting as the precursor to a hearing in which Chavez and the Nevada attorney general will present their cases.
"Mr. Chavez's license is suspended, but there is no finding of fact on the merits of the case," commission executive director Keith Kizer told ESPN.com. "He had a license to fight in Nevada and we suspended it pending a hearing. Chavez had no objection to it. He wasn't going to fight again this year anyway."
Kizer said Chavez's disciplinary hearing could take place later this month.
"I spoke to (Top Rank promoter) Bob (Arum) and he said he will advise Mr. Chavez to have his hearing at the next meeting," Kizer said. "But that is up to Julio and his attorneys. We're ready to go now, but if they feel they need more time, fine with us. I spoke with the promoter and attorney last week and there was no problem with what he did (on Tuesday). They understood the formality of it all. That's all it is."
Chavez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) faces a fine -- likely at least $300,000, which is 10 percent of his $3 million purse for the fight with Martinez. The commission could fine him up to his entire purse, although that is extremely unlikely given past punishments for positive drug tests.
He also faces a suspension of up to one year, which would have to be honored by other states as required under federal law.
Normally, a positive marijuana test would not elicit that significant of a suspension. But this is Chavez's second positive test for a banned substance in Nevada since 2009, which is likely to be taken into account by the commission, Kizer said.
In November 2009, Chavez tested positive for Furosemide -- a diuretic typically used to help cut weight or used as a masking agent for steroids -- in conjunction with his fight against Troy Rowland, which took place on the Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto undercard at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The commission suspended Chavez for seven months and fined him $10,000 (10 percent of his $100,000 purse). The fight result, originally a lopsided decision win for Chavez, was changed to a no-decision.
"I can't imagine the suspension will be any less than six months," Kizer said. "Best case for Mr. Chavez is six months, worse case is 12 months. That is my speculation because it is up to the commissioners. They are the ones who vote. But the norm for a first-time offense on marijuana is six months and the norm on a second drug offense is up to 12 months. It will be up to the commission after hearing the case from the attorney general's office and from Mr. Chavez."
Martinez (50-2-2, 28 KOs) dominated the first 11 rounds of the fight, but in the 12th round, Chavez came to life. He badly hurt Martinez, knocked him down and nearly finished him, although Martinez fought back and made it through the rest of what will likely be the round of the year to win a unanimous decision on scores of 118-109, 118-109 and 117-110.