Friday, February 28, 2014

Will Chavez “Avenge A Victory”?

When the topic of rematches is discussed, much of the opinions voiced are more often than not concerning the scoring of a fight or a controversial stoppage. In the case of the rematch between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Bryan Vera, although their first meeting was marred in controversy with regard to the scoring of the fight, one might argue that a question leading up to the rematch just might be whether or not Chavez can “avenge a victory.”

It is not often that you hear of the concept of a fighter looking to avenge a victory over an opponent. Many however, believe that when Chavez and Vera met last September it was  Vera who deserved the decision in a fight where he was able to outwork Chavez, out landing him by fifty-one punches by the end of the ten round bout. The belief of many fans and experts alike that Vera being the victim of controversial scoring in that fight now puts Chavez in a position of having to leave no doubts in the rematch.

It is not however, a position that Chavez is unfamiliar. In fact, when it comes to rematches an argument could be made that Chavez has shown the ability to improve. Some might remember Chavez’ fights with Carlos Molina in 2005 and 2006 when Chavez was campaigning in the Welterweight division. In the first fight, Molina consistently forced the action and seemed to outwork Chavez. The fight however, was scored a draw.

 In the rematch in 2006 Chavez was more active than he had been in the first fight and was able to earn a six round majority decision. Although some scoffed at the decision in the rematch, Chavez fought a much better fight the second time around.

Perhaps most Boxing fans are more familiar with Chavez’ two battles with Matt Vanda in 2008. In the first encounter, Chavez struggled badly against Vanda who was the considerably more active of the two fighters and who battered Chavez around the ring in the final round. The ten round split decision in favor of Chavez resulted in an ugly scene as the crowd in attendance threw bottles in the ring following the announcement. A scene that reminded this observer of the aftermath that took place following the stoppage of the Tony Lopez-John John Molina rematch in October 1989. The primary difference was in the case of the near riot that took place in 1989, the crowd was angry because the fight had been stopped when it was deemed that the hometown fighter Lopez, who took significant punishment during the course of that fight could not continue.

In contrast, the first fight between Chavez and Vanda took place in Mexico where although Chavez was the clear crowd favorite, the result of the decision indicated that those who were in attendance felt that Vanda won the fight. Although one could say that those fans who were in attendance deserve credit for not allowing favoritism to influence who they believed won that fight. The commonality between what took place following that fight and the second Lopez-Molina fight in 1989 is both resulted in an ugly scene that frankly were both un-becoming of the sport and it’s fans.

Leading up to the rematch with Vanda Chavez contended that his performance in the first fight was attributed to an illness that he had been suffering from prior to the fight. In the rematch however, Chavez would leave no doubts as he out boxed and dominated the fight seemingly from start to finish, earning a convincing ten round unanimous decision.

Based on his performances against both Molina and Vanda in rematches, one could assume that Chavez could produce another improvement in his rematch with Bryan Vera. It is however, important to remember that much like Molina and Vanda, Bryan Vera likely feels that he got an unjust decision the first time around. It will be interesting to see whether or not Vera comes out even more aggressive than he was in the first fight, perhaps with the mindset that he cannot let this fight go to the scorecards.

Although the story of the first fight in my mind was Vera’s ability to consistently get his punches off first, throwing punches in combination, and applying almost constant pressure on Chavez throughout the fight, Chavez was able to be effective by landing thudding blows that would momentarily stop Vera in his tracks. It will be interesting to see whether Vera will implement a tactical approach, or be somewhat reckless in trying to catch Chavez off guard.

By the same token, it will equally be interesting to see whether or not Chavez takes the initiative to be the aggressor from the outset or if he will look to play the role of counter puncher and attempt to catch Vera on the way in. Chavez was able to catch Vera with left hooks and overhand rights frequently throughout the first fight, it is just a question of whether Chavez will be more active this time around. The opinion of many, this observer included was Vera’s greater activity, although not always damaging was enough to win rounds in the first fight.

An argument of some could be that the three judges who scored unanimously in favor of Chavez in the first fight, scored based on the effectiveness of Chavez when he was able to stop Vera in his tracks. This could well be the case, but in my opinion Chavez simply did not do enough to win that fight as I scored it 97-93 in favor of Vera. It will however, be interesting if Vera has found an answer to avoid those thudding blows to see whether or not that will have any effect on the scoring of this twelve round bout.

Another question that some may be wondering is whether or not weight problems have played any factor for Chavez as he prepares for the rematch. The first fight was originally scheduled to take place at a catch weight of 162lbs. and then bounced up to the 168lb. Super-Middleweight division, and then finally took place at a catch weight of 173lbs. two pounds under the Light-Heavyweight limit.

There were some who questioned Chavez’ commitment to the sport following the first fight. Questions of whether weight problems may play a factor may be valid. Questions also however, regarding what potential fights could be on the table for Chavez should he be victorious against Vera in the rematch with the likes of undefeated Super-Middleweight champion Andre Ward and fellow Super-Middleweight champion Carl Froch are also valid.

An obvious question with those potential fights possibly looming on the horizon for Chavez is whether or not he is looking ahead of this rematch with Bryan Vera. Based on what took place in the first fight between these two, it would be foolish in this observer’s eyes if Chavez were to look past Vera.

Although Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has established himself as a star in the sport of Boxing and is a former world champion, it is important to remember that he faced a fighter in Bryan Vera, who had won four straight fights prior to facing Chavez the first time around. Vera has earned the reputation of being a spoiler in his career having defeated both Sergio Mora twice and scoring a stoppage over top Middleweight contender Andy Lee in their first meeting.

Despite suffering seven losses in thirty professional fights Bryan Vera is certainly not a fighter to overlook and one could view Vera as perhaps the more confident fighter as the rematch approaches. A fighter who might feel as a victim of an unjust decision getting a second opportunity is certainly dangerous, especially when that fighter has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

What will happen in the rematch? We’ll find out Saturday night.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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