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The weight limit for the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Brian Vera fight has been increased to a maximum of 173 pounds, a source with direct knowledge of the deal told ESPN.com on Thursday.
Former middleweight world titleholder Chavez and Vera will meet Saturday (10:15 p.m. ET/PT, HBO) at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., in a fight beset by controversy over the weight limit.
The fight has been reduced from a scheduled 12-round bout to a 10-round bout at the insistence of the Vera camp as part of the negotiations to increase the weight limit.
When the fight negotiations began, it was going to be a 12-round fight at 162 pounds. However, the Chavez camp steadily negotiated the weight up until finally signing to face Vera at the super middleweight limit of 168 pounds.
But earlier this week, Chavez's father, Hall of Famer Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., serving as his son's head trainer for the first time, announced to the media that the weight had been increased to 173 pounds, which came as news to everyone else involved in the bout, including Chavez's co-promoters Bob Arum of Top Rank and Fernando Beltran of Zanfer Promotions, Vera and his promoter, Artie Pelullo of Banner Promotions.
The younger Chavez, notorious for his problems making 160 pounds when he was a middleweight, is also having issues making 168. So on Wednesday, Arum and Pelullo met in Los Angeles to work out an increase in the weight -- and to settle on how much additional money Vera and Pelullo would get for their trouble, since they have a signed contract calling for the fight to take place at 168.
However, after the promoters made a deal, they declined to announce the new weight limit, a highly unusual move. Instead, they said they would have the fighters go through the official weigh-in at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles on Friday (6 p.m. ET, ESPN Deportes and ESPN.com) before announcing the weight limit.
As Arum, always with his promoter's hat on, said Wednesday, "Wait for the weight."
He said he knew it was an unusual situation but that as long as the weight had been worked out, why not make the curiosity about it part of the promotion?
"I know it's something bizarre, but we're doing it because we had this [weight] issue and we're making the issue a character in the promotion of the event," Arum said.
A source involved in the fight told ESPN.com that the maximum weight would indeed be 173 pounds.
"Vera and Pelullo got extra money, six figures, for changing the weight," the source said.
That extra money is on top of the approximate $400,000 package the Vera side is getting for the bout from Top Rank.
And what if Chavez comes to the weigh-in and is over 173 pounds?
"I guess we'll have even more drama," the source said.
The reduction in rounds was just another aspect of what has become an increasingly unconventional promotion.
"When the new weight and money were negotiated, we thought it was done," the source said. "Then, after the press conference [Wednesday], about an hour after the press conference, Artie came back and said, 'We got a problem. Vera and his trainer [Ronnie Shields] are insisting that the fight be 10 rounds.'"
At that point, the source said Arum, Beltran and both Chavezes discussed it and, knowing they had little choice, accepted the 10-round limit.
Why Vera (23-6, 14 KOs) and Shields asked for the rounds reduction is unclear, but since Chavez is known as a slow starter, perhaps they think they can put several early rounds in the bank, get out to a lead and give Chavez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) fewer rounds to work with late in the fight.
Chavez will be fighting for the first time in one year. In his last fight, he lost his middleweight belt by lopsided decision to lineal champion Sergio Martinez in Las Vegas, although he nearly knocked Martinez out in a dramatic 12th round. After the fight, Chavez tested positive for marijuana and was fined and suspended for nine months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
The fight with Vera was supposed to take place Sept. 7 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but it was postponed last month after Chavez suffered a small cut in a sparring session.