Perhaps you have heard by now, but the Julio Cesar Chavez - Brian Vera fight has had its weight limit pushed to 173 pounds and its scheduled distance dropped from 12 to 10 rounds. Boxing Scene reported that Vera's trainer Ronnie Shields told them the uninspiring news last night and, well, can anyone say that they are shocked?
It was one thing when the fight was scheduled to be above middleweight. Chavez is very big for the weight and it's not uncommon for a fighter to comeback at a slightly higher weight after being off for a decent amount of time. But it seemed like the limit kept gradually rising until it reached 168, the super middleweight limit. OK, again, Chavez is a very big middleweight and the star always gets to set the rules. If Vera wants the payday, he has to play the game, right?
But now the game has gotten way out of hand. At yesterday's press conference Chavez's promoter Bob Arum stated that the public would not know the weight limit until the weigh-in Friday afternoon. Huh? I don't think that's how it's supposed to work. Maybe it's a middleweight fight, maybe light heavyweight. Screw it, why not go for the gold and make it a heavyweight bout and put Chris Arreola on the undercard? His weight issues would certainly fit the theme of the show.
Now comes the news that it is a light heavyweight fight, only two pounds south of that division's limit. Do I need to say how I feel about this? Is it not obvious?
Unprofessional is not enough to describe Chavez. It was unprofessional of him to smoke pot before his fight with Sergio Martinez. It's just plain horrible to do to Vera what he is doing now. Vera is naturally a much smaller man who was already at a disadvantage and is taking the fight because it's a huge opportunity to go along with a nice payday. The problem here is that Chavez knows that Vera won't back out of it for that very reason. Arum knows it too. All of God's children know it. A guy like Vera has little leverage in a situation like this because the opportunity to make good money on an HBO show doesn't come around often. If you back out now, you're missing out on the payday and you're probably in the doghouse with HBO for the rest of your career. Not a recipe for long-term success in American boxing unless you have Al Haymon on your side.
But just like Arum, HBO, and Chavez know that Vera will show up no matter the disadvantage, they also expect their paying audience to show as well. This is also the promotional company that will try to wrestle some more money out of you with pay-per-views in October and November.
Make sure you don't order until the weigh-ins for those cards. Wouldn't want you to assume the stars will make the agreed-to weight or anything.