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Monday, January 13, 2014
Chavez-Vera rematch set for March 1

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

When former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Bryan Vera met on Sept. 28, Chavez failed to make weight and then claimed a hugely controversial decision in the action-packed fight.

Now the rematch is on.

Chavez and Vera will meet again in a scheduled 12-round super middleweight fight on March 1 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com on Monday. Arum said a news conference is scheduled in San Antonio on Thursday.

The co-feature shapes up as a fascinating fight as veteran three-time featherweight titlist Orlando Salido of Mexico will make the first defense of his third reign against Vasyl Lomachenko, the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, who will be fighting just his second professional bout.

The contract weight for Chavez-Vera II is 168 pounds maximum, right on the super middleweight limit. According to Arum and Vera promoter Artie Pelullo of Banner Promotions, if Chavez fails to make weight he will forfeit $250,000 of his purse to Vera. The purses were not disclosed. The payment would be in addition to whatever fine Chavez would be assessed by Texas regulators.

The first fight, which took place at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., was also contracted at 168 pounds. However, Chavez, son of Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., is notorious for his trouble making weight and told his handlers the week of the bout that he would not make 168. That led to a deal between the camps to raise the limit to 173 pounds, giving Chavez what was perceived to be a significant advantage over the smaller Vera, who received an extra six-figure payment on top of his $275,000 purse in exchange for raising the limit. Chavez made $2.5 million for the first fight.

"I told Chavez that he's destroying his credibility with this weight nonsense," Arum said Monday. "He said, 'If I had to I could make 160 pounds.' But that's f---ing nonsense that he said that. He can say whatever he wants but it doesn't mean s--- to me unless he makes the weight.

"I told him, 'Make the weight. Let me see.' So I'm not shooting my mouth off about Chavez and his ability and his this and that. I'm from Missouri now -- show me. Don't tell me, show me. Convince me you're serious about this. He has to come in at weight, in shape and he has to fight in a manner that people believe that he's capable of, like he looked when he beat Andy Lee."

Chavez, who turns 28 on Feb. 16, was not in shape the first time around and struggled with Vera (23-7, 14 KOs), 32, of Austin, Texas, who turned in perhaps the finest performance of his career.

However, the judges gave Chavez (47-1-1, 32 KOs) a shocking unanimous decision on scores of 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94. The two wide scores, from judges Gwen Adair and Marty Denkin, respectively, were widely criticized by fans and media. One poll of 60 media scores had 54 giving the fight to Vera with four draws.

"I think Bryan is going to win like he [should have] won the first fight," Pelullo said. "He went into the first fight with facing the unknown and won the fight and took Chavez's best shot. Now when he fights him again it's not an unknown. He knows and he is more confident about the fight."

Vera hoped a rematch would come together and got his wish.

"I just felt sick to my stomach, man, because I mean, you heard the crowd," Vera said of his feelings after the scores were announced in September. "The crowd booed and I just knew that I won the fight. We all felt the same way. I really had no thoughts. I was kind of disgusted, man. So, I just prayed, hopefully, we can do this again."

The fight with Vera was Chavez's first in a year, since losing a lopsided decision and his 160-pound belt to lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. After the fight, Chavez tested positive for marijuana, and was fined and suspended for nine months. It was his second failed Nevada drug test in three years.

Salido (40-12-2, 28 KOs), 33, reclaimed a 126-pound world title on Oct. 12 on the same card on which Lomachenko, a 25-year-old southpaw, made his pro debut with a fourth-round knockout of Jose Luis Ramirez.

Lomachenko, one of the most sought-after amateurs following the 2012 Olympics, wanted to make his pro debut fighting for a world title. While that was not possible, Lomachenko (1-0, 1 KO) signed with Top Rank because Arum promised him he could get him the title fight in his second fight.

"I can't wait for that fight. I would pay to see that." Arum said. "For me, that should be the main event. Salido is the epitome of the rough tough Mexican who fights to the end. And he's facing a kid who was a great amateur but has never been in a 12-round fight and he's in with a guy who never gets tired."

The fight was initially targeted for Jan. 25, but delayed until March 1 because Lomachenko was resting a minor hand injury. Now it's set and he aims to make history.

"We looking forward to this fight and to make a history in boxing as it has never been done -- to win a world title in a second pro fight," said Egis Klimas, Lomachenko's manager. "Everyone in our team is very excited about it and we are all taking this matter on very seriously. We are already preparing for the fight in Big Bear Lake, Calif."

Said Sean Gibbons, Salido's manager, "We're ready to rumble. We're feeling a little disrespected that this guy has one pro fight and is jumping in with a guy at Orlando's level. But come March 1, Orlando's going to show why a guy with three world titles beats a guy with two gold medals."

Arum said former lightweight titlist Juan Diaz (38-4, 19 KOs), 30, of Houston and 23-year-old featherweight Oscar Valdez (8-0, 8 KOs), a 2012 Mexican Olympian and one of boxing's top prospects, will appear on the undercard.