Chavez Jr. defeats Vera in rematch; Lomachenko drops a courageous battle to Salido
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Chavez Jr. defeats Vera in rematch; Lomachenko drops a courageous battle to Salido
By Vikram Birring at ringside for Doghouse Boxing (March 3, 2014)

Chavez - Vera
Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank
On a hot summer night in southern California, an underprepared, overweight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was outworked by rugged Bryan Vera. Everyone in the arena except three seemingly blind judges agreed, and the controversy was such that a rematch was ordered by the furious public.

Now that Chavez had worn out his welcome in Southern California with his ongoing antics, the location for the return bout was selected as San Antonio, Texas, where Chavez had previously defeated John Duddy and Marco Antonio Rubio to huge crowds.

On this unusually warm February night, there was a large crowd, but not the demographics one would expect. The majority of the fans were from 88 miles up highway 35, from the dynamic city of Austin, Vera’s hometown.

This was immediately made clear during introductions when Vera received cheers and Chavez was lustily booed. When Chavez legions started to chant their man’s name, they were quickly drowned out by the sound of “Ve-Ra, Ve-Ra.”

It was a surprising spectacle to behold, but just goes to show how much Chavez has ostracized his own fan base of usually loyal Mexican and Mexican-American fans. One wonders if he would even sell many tickets in Mexico, being that his last bout there was nearly three years ago.

Nonetheless, Chavez still draws attention, for better or for worse, and a crowd ready for a fight awaited the rematch with anticipation.

Chavez’s figure revealed that he actually trained with dedication with this bout, as he made the weight limit and looked strong. Trained by his friend Vladimir Baldenbro, pundits wondered what Chavez would show up.

The answer was, a strong super middleweight that bullied a smaller plan with an elementary plan: circling to the left with occasional pot shots.

This plan did not take effect until the fourth round, as he was outworked in the first three by a motivated Vera (23-8, 14 KO), who was surprisingly backing up the much larger Chavez (48-1-1, 32 KO). In the fourth and fifth, he started to land shots that rocked Vera, but Vera didn’t show it, as he only smiled every time a fist met with his noggin.

Chavez ended the seventh round by rocking Vera, and in the eighth, referee Rafael Ramos, who earlier in the night was enshrined in the San Antonio boxing hall of fame, unpredictably took a point from Vera for holding Chavez’s head down, without any prior warning.

The pattern basically went on throughout the fight, sometimes Chavez would land hard single shots that rocked Vera, but otherwise Vera outworked him.

Then, in the final round, in a bizarre scene reminiscent of Oscar De La Hoya against Felix Trinidad, he ran in circles while taunting Vera. This was a strange decision for most at ringside had him up by two rounds at most.

However, Chavez seemed to know what two of the judges were thinking, as the final decision was awarded to him an abhorring 117-110 on Ruben Carrion and Max DeLuca’s scorecards, and a fair 114-113 on David Sutherland’s card. An eye appointment should be arranged as soon as possible for Carrion or DeLuca.

Where does Chavez go from here? It seems even promoter Bob Arum has grown frustrated with his behavior, as he is looking to hand him to monstrous Gennady Golovkin or unbeatable Andre Ward. This reeks of a “cash out,” as the term goes in boxing, but who can blame Arum. With a rapidly declining fan base, he is left little choice.

To his credit, Chavez has transformed himself into a villain in the mold of Floyd Mayweather, a type of odd must see television to just see what happens. But if he is really handed on a platter to Ward or Golovkin, the result will not be good for him, except for a one time deposit in his bank account.

L-R: Salido / Lomachenko
L-R: Salido / Lomachenko
Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank
Undercard Notes:

Vasyl Lomachenko is a man whose aura bleeds confidence. In his second professional fight, he demanded a title bout, and his request was granted. A two time Olympic gold medalist, one can’t blame him for thinking of himself as an invincible force.

His opponent was rugged Orlando Salido of Ciudad Obregon, Mexico, a city in the desert of the state of Sonora, known for blistering summers. Salido, it seems, knows how to deal with the heat.

A few years back, Salido was thrown into the ring with a rising star, Juan Manuel Lopez of Puerto Rico, a knockout artist with brash confidence. Salido stopped him once, then stopped him again in the rematch, sending his career on a downward trajectory that has yet to halt.

Now, it was déjà vu, as Salido was being overlooked even by boxing insiders. Lomachenko was so good he was being mentioned to fight in a Gold Medal winner super match against Guillermo Rigondeaux, also undefeated as a professional with an equally spectacular amateur career.

Salido (41-12-2, 28 KO), with the assistance of inept referee Laurence Cole, disrupted these plans with a plan only Fritzie Zivic would be proud of.

Low blows, holding, use of a forearm, elbowing, and every veteran trick of Zivic’s playbook came out on this night, and Cole either did not see, or refused to enforce any penalties. There were some rounds where Salido landed 3 low blows a minute.

Lomachenko (1-1, 1 KO), to his credit, yet his detriment, refused to join the chicanery, and fought a clean bout. However, Salido’s tactics with occasional landed punches helped him win many rounds, and by the twelfth round, Lomachenko knew he would need a knockout to win.

He nearly delivered.

Lomachenko stunned Salido with a straight left cross, and followed up with ferocious barrage. With only about one minute left, Salido had to survive. He took shot after shot, held on when he could, and somehow stayed on his feet when the final bell rang.

With the closing fury, the scores were thought to be very close, and the judges’ scorecards proved that: 116-112, 113-115, 115-113, favoring Salido.

Lomachenko fought a courageous battle against a wily veteran, and will be back. Salido will get another big fight, and unfortunately Laurence Cole will get another plum assignment, for his greatest life achievement is being the son of his father, Dickie Cole, the head of the Texas Boxing Commission.

Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz (39-4, 19 KO) watched carefully in the first round as muscular Gerardo Robles (16-13, 7 KO) of Kansas City by way of Durango, Mexico threw everything but the kitchen sink at him in the first round. Eyebrows were raised as he didn’t throw much back.

This was just the evaluation period, as in the second he came back with a fury, hurting Robles in round two. This was the running moment in the bout. After this, Robles reevaluated his options, and decided he would be better off running as much as possible to avoid punishment.

In a rare deviation from his plan, he landed a punch to the back of Diaz’s head, the location of the brain stem, and predictably knocking Diaz off balance and shocking on the canvas. He rose, with the red eyes of his bull persona, and in the last three rounds punished Robles.

Instead of marching forward, he sat back, waited for Robles to make a mistake, which happened rather frequently, and punished him, teeing off as only an insulted man could. Robles would have been smart to take a knee or turn around, but he took a frightful beating but refused to go down.

The final scores were academic: 100-90 and 99-91 twice, for “El Torito.” A title shot waits in the wings for the rejuvenated former unified world champion, the question is who will be the opponent.

In the third round, Oscar Valdez (9-0, 9 KO) landed a looping left hook against the head of Samuel Sanchez (6-5-1, 1 KO), giving him what is called “spaghetti legs.” The referee, deciding Sanchez didn’t have much of a chance anyway, immediately stepped in and stopped the bout. The fans disagreed with this decision, but a fight stopped too early is always better than one stopped too late.

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