Photo Credits: Chris Farina/Top Rank
SAN ANTONIO, TX — With over 7000 fans present, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. redeemed himself with a wholly dominant and entertaining rematch win over a spirited Bryan Vera at the Alamodome. Clearly in-shape and having the advantage of this being contested at 168 over the previous middleweight limit, Junior used his superior strength and size to gradually wear down Vera, who never fully cracked under the pressure.
The card also offered some serious implications in the super middleweight and middleweight divisions for the rest of 2014 via Chavez Jr.’s post-fight interview.
THE AGGRESSOR DOMINATES: The fighter who decided to come forward was the man who was winning the early rounds. Luckily for fans, that was evenly split in a lot of cases through the first five. Initially, Chavez fought off the backfoot, popping Vera with his longer left jab and coming down the middle weight straight rights. Vera worked his own jab that disrupted Junior’s rhythm, resulting in one of his best right hands that briefly wobbled the Mexican star in the second round.
Starting in the fourth, the tied began to slowly change when Chavez making a concerted effort to come forward and rip vicious right hooks to the body. These were the shots that sent Vera into retreat. To Chavez Jr.’s credit, he recognized this and began to muscle Vera to the ropes, where he controlled the majority of the middle rounds.
Vera still had his moments. He took the sixth but out working Chavez with jabs on the outside, and keeping the Mexican star’s hands in a defensive posture by ripping uppercuts. The seventh stanza had Vera winning the early part handily by turning Chavez at ring center and throwing combinations. However, Chavez took over by bullying Vera to the ropes with heavy power shots.
ALL HOPE LOST IN THE 8TH: By now, it was clear that Vera, a natural middleweight, did not have the power to hurt Chavez, who likely was at least 185-190 pounds. When the fight went inside, Vera would use forearms and shoulder shoves to try to create space. Chavez had his own roughhouse tactics (low blows), but referee Rafael Ramos was clearly on Vera’s case, and took a point for pushing down Chavez’s neck.
While the point deduction was dubious, it signaled the beginning of the end for Vera, who was already behind and now had 10-8 round on his ledger. Without any KO power, he would have had to win all the remaining rounds to take the fight.
SHOWBOATING COSTS JUNIOR A FEW FANS: The 12th round started furiously with both men gunning for a KO. When it became clear to Junior that Vera was going nowhere, he opted to literally start running around the ring and taunting. The crowd lustily booed him for these antics, taking away some of the goodwill fans were earning for him based on this effort.
The expected unanimous decision for Chavez had scores of 114-113 and 117-111 twice.
TWO OPPONENTS ON THE RADAR: In his post-fight interview, Chavez first mentioned his desire for a rematch with Sergio Martinez after he gets by Miguel Cotto (for Chavez, it appears that’s a foregone conclusion). At this stage of their careers, I could only see Martinez getting the win if he’s able to drag Chavez down to 160. At 168, Chavez would get his revenge.
The second and more intriguing opponent named was Gennady Golovkin. You could tell this was Chavez’s preferred opponent, as he switched to perfect English to proclaim that should be his next bout. Not only is this a justified pay-per-view fight, it’s a potential Fight of the Year with several intriguing questions. Does GGG have enough power to contend at 168? Can he handle a much bigger man muscling him and working body shots? Can Chavez’s chin hold up to a puncher of this caliber? Check out how their sparring session went several years back.
With Golovkin canceling his April 26 date after the death of his father, this proposed June or July superfight will likely be his next time in the ring.[youtube http://youtu.be/JgZxdj-u5ac]
SALIDO GIVES LOMACHENKO A ROUGH LESSON: Vasyl Lomachenko’s bold attempt at winning a major title in his second fight hit a literal brick wall in the form of Orlando Salido, who almost exclusively utilized a bruising body attack to score a split decision win (116-112, 115-113, 113-115).
Not surprisingly, Lomachenko had trouble defensively when Salido got inside. The hard as nails veteran kept banging Lomachenko to the body all night. And eventually, he started letting those body shots sail low, clubbing the rookie to the groin and thighs. Referee Laurence Cole, well-known for his poor officiating, failed to issue any significant warnings.
Lomachenko had isolated success using his faster hands to catch Salido with quick combinations whenever the champion lingered too long on the outside. But it wasn’t until the 12th, when Salido was badly dazed by a straight left, that Lomachenko almost pulled off a dramatic upset. Due to some timely holding and mauling, Salido barely escaped with his title.
This was a big gamble by Lomachenko, who insisted to Top Rank that he get a title shot this early. Considering that Salido failed to make weight and was a full-fledged welterweight in there (this was supposed to be a featherweight contest), there was a real danger of Salido ruining his career. Instead, Lomachenko showed that if he’s willing to put some of his arrogance in check and slow down his pace just a little bit, he’ll likely have gold around his waist by this time next year.[youtube http://youtu.be/v5TKbppJCDE]