It's a cliché you hear just
about every single time you interview boxers before a fight. Seemingly, they
are always in the best shape of their lives. Of course; what do you expect them
to say? “Honestly, I didn't train all that well and I'll be lucky to last six
rounds”? The bottom line is it's a prerequisite to be in supreme physical
condition in this line of work. But for Brian Vera, scheduled to face Julio
Cesar Chavez Jr. this Saturday night (10:15 p.m. ET/PT) at the StubHub Center
in Carson, California, this might very well be the case.
As you see his pictures on
his Twitter page (twitter.com/BVWARRIOR/photo/1)
over the past few months, there is visual evidence of the work the tough Texan
has put in.
“No doubt about it,” he told
Maxboxing on Monday afternoon. “Anytime you get to camp for 12 weeks...well,
it's actually 16 weeks, there's no other way to be but to be in the best shape of your life. I'm definitely in great
shape - the best shape.”
And Vera had plenty of time
to get here as this fight was delayed throughout the summer months and then
postponed for September 7th after Chavez suffered a cut during
sparring in late August. With this much time to prepare, there is always the
chance of overtraining and getting stale in the gym.
“There are times I thought I
needed to take it down but we had our last sparring day on Saturday and that
was the best day I had. So that kinda made me feel a little better about the
situation because I was strong and we did 10 rounds but I felt like a beast and
that's what kinda gave me the psyche that I am in the best shape and I'm not
overtrained at all,” said the 31-year-old Vera, who comes in with a record of
His trainer, the respected
Ronnie Shields believes he has a fighter in optimum physical condition. “Without
a doubt, we've had a very long time to prepare for this fight. They canceled
it, what, three times? So I gave him a little bit of time off and brought him
back and forth, back and forth. So he's in great shape,” said Shields, who had
Vera join him when the veteran trainer’s charges, Jermell and Jermall Charlo
fought in various locales.
Vera, the reigning NABO
middleweight titlist, can still make the 160-pound limit relatively easy but to
land this assignment, he had to agree to make this fight at the super
middleweight limit of 168 pounds. However, there is talk that the perpetually
troubled Chavez Jr. may not be able to make the weight. His father said on ESPN
Deportes’ “Golpe a Golpe” that there is a chance the weight limit could be
moved to 173.
Before all this took place, Vera
understood that Chavez not making the agreed weight was a distinct possibility.
“There's a little bit of
talk about him coming in a little heavy but we don't know for sure, so I guess
we'll see. Ronnie and my manager, Dave [Watson] got this stuff under control.
So whatever they say, if he does come in over, I'm sure he's going to have to
get penalized for it.”
On a national conference
call with reporters on Tuesday, Top Rank founder Bob Arum commented that he
would be meeting Vera's promoter, Artie Pelullo for breakfast on Wednesday and
that the weight limit would be determined then (yeah, seriously, that's what he
But the hard reality is Vera
has waited his whole career for an opportunity like this, putting it on hold
for the better part of six months. He may never get a chance to be on a stage
this big ever again. The inequity of the business almost forces Vera to go
through with this fight under almost any circumstance.
Vera is well aware of that,
stating, “Y’ know, Ronnie's like, ‘If it's a couple of pounds over, yeah, we
gotta negotiate something and try to make him close it or give him a
day-of-the-fight weight, that type of thing. But if he comes in eight-to-10
pounds over, I mean, it's just one of those things. Man, it's hard to say,
Chavez being heavy is like
the sun coming up in the east. It's something you expect. At last month’s press
conference, Vera noticed, “[Chavez] wore a big shirt but he looked big to me. I
don't know how he's going to get that weight down. I guess he's got it covered
or whatever, so we'll see.”
Shields, a veteran of this
business, isn't surprised by any of this.
“Well, at first the fight
was at 163 at the beginning, then when it got canceled, they came back at 168,”
he explained. “We knew right then that Chavez was having trouble with the
weight, so then they came back at 168 and Brian came to me and asked what I
thought. I said, ‘Look, Brian, this guy is a big guy regardless of what weight
he's going to fight. He's going to still be 30 pounds heavier than you no
matter what. Now, it's up to you. If you feel good about the fight, then go
ahead with it. If you don't, then we'll pass on it.’”
According to Shields, Vera,
drawing upon his past experiences sparring with Chavez, felt he could handle
whatever disadvantage in size he may encounter.
What will most likely happen
is more money will be thrown Vera's way to make sure this fight goes off on
Saturday night. It will add an already career-high payday. Vera has scratched
out a living scraping together small paydays on ESPN2 but he's never been in
this tax bracket. Again, he could make a stand by walking away if the
contracted weight is not met but he'd also lose out on a lucrative opportunity
that may never come his way again. It may not be a life-changing amount but it
will certainly make life easier.
“I'm definitely making six-figures.
I'm going to do the best I've ever done but obviously, winning this fight is
what will keep me up for bigger and better opportunities and get things going
for me as far as the rest of my life and whatnot. So yeah, it's definitely the
biggest thing for me,” said Vera.
Vera, who has defeated the
likes of Andy Lee, Sergio Mora and Serhiy Dzinziruk during his career,
understands the impact of this fight. “It could blow me up right now, so for me,
that's why I spent so much time in camp and stayed focused. I know this could be
a life-changing fight for me.”
Since hooking up with
Shields, Vera is an improved fighter. Toughness and grit weren't the problem;
his problems were more the technical variety.
“I think he's moving his
head a lot more. Brian, when I first got him and started working with him, bad
habits galore. I mean, a lot of bad
habits. He had such bad habits that I couldn't straighten all of them out,” Shields
explained. “I had to straighten the most important ones out and that was basically
moving his head, keeping his hands up and he's been good at it. Lately, he's
been really good at it. So this fight,
I feel more confident than in any other fight.”
If Vera wins, it will be
considered an upset. Hey, there's a reason why Top Rank chose him after all.
But there's also a reason why you fight the fights and you get the sense this
guy is going to empty his bucket.
Shield says, “I think he's
going to win because Chavez is really underestimating him and I mean, they're
already talking about fighting this person, that person, they going here, they
doing that and all we're doing is just using it as motivation. We're not
worried about what they're thinking or whatever. The whole thing is he's gotta
get in there with Brian Vera before he even thinks about anybody else. He's
gotta face Brian Vera first.”
Chavez Jr. is boxing
royalty, bequeathed his standing in the game by sheer virtue of his father’s
legacy. Vera is just a blue-collar guy who has dutifully punched into work each
and every day with little fanfare or acclaim. This fight just might mean more
to him and it's why he thinks he will gore this cash cow.
“It does have a lot to do
with it. I think also because I'm a better fighter,” he says, “but at the end
of the day, yeah, that has a lot to do with it. Like I was telling everybody
and I've been saying, anytime you take a year off for any fight, it's going to
be hard to come back. He's going to be rusty; me, I've been busy and it's the
best I've ever been as far as my boxing career goes. I'm looking forward to it
held a media day at the Azteca Gym on Tuesday afternoon and I have to say,
while he certainly looks big, he's not fat or soft by any means. In fact, he
looks more muscular and defined than usual. He looks like a guy who was indeed
putting in the physical work. In talking to some of his camp, they believe during
this hiatus, Chavez has grown into his body. One thing that was noticeable was
just how large his lower body is.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. works out during media day in Los Angeles for his upcoming rumble against No. 1 contender Bryan Vera
Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank
don't know if he can make 168 effectively but it certainly looks like his days
at middleweight are over. It's also still farcical that the weight limit for
this fight could still be fudged just a few days before it takes place. There
are catchweights and then I guess there is the “Chavez-weight” (where the
weight limit is determined as soon as he gets off the scales).
camp’s very good; I feel 100 percent for this fight. The weight is good and I'm
ready,” Chavez told the assembled media.
asked if this contest could take place at 173 pounds, he responded, “Uh, no,
the contract is 168.”
asked if he would hit that mark, he replied, “Yes, no problem.”
will be in another underdog's corner when Edwin Rodriguez challenges super
middleweight king Andre Ward on November 16th. The question is, is
he ready for such a fight?
“Absolutely,” answered Shields without
hesitation, “otherwise we wouldn't do it. Boxing is a sport where you have to
pick and choose the right fights and I think catching Andre Ward coming off of
injury, number one, hadn't fought in a year, number two, he's never faced a guy
like Edwin Rodriguez before - never. He's fought some good guys but each one of
those guys are so different than an Edwin Rodriguez. So this is where I feel we
have an advantage.”
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