COMMENTARY | Is there anyone left on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s hype train? If so, please do yourself a favor and climb off at the next stop. After his uninspired performance against Bryan Vera that resulted in what should be seen as a gift decision thanks to some questionable judging, Chavez Jr. continues to prove that all he really has is his name and nothing else.
Despite reports that his fight with Vera attracted just under 1.5 million viewers, the fact that he's continued to act as a prima donna in and out of the ring suggests that he is more interested in coasting off of his father's name rather than putting the work in to reach his potential. But, as of right now, as long as he benefits from giving 50%, chances are that he won't feel the need to give it his all.
Inside of the ring it didn't appear that he took Vera seriously. Let's be honest, this is a fight that Chavez Jr. should have handily won. Instead, he only threw one punch at a time, often waited on Vera and tasted more leather than he should have. Meanwhile, as Vera continued to land combinations, Chavez thought it would be better that he complain to the referee about headbutts and low blows rather than fight. He allowed Vera to throw twice as many punches and never appeared to actually want to finish the fight despite his suggestion that he fractured his hand.
Nevertheless, Vera isn't in the same league when it comes to talent but he has a far more heart than Chavez Jr. has put on display in recent fights. Vera fought as if his career depended on it. Chavez fought just to keep the checks rolling in.
And if the performance inside of the ring wasn't evidence that Chavez Jr. doesn't take this sport seriously, let's look at what happened outside of the ring.
No, it's not just the fact that he was suspended for nine months because he wanted to smoke marijuana. Nor is it because of how he often shrugged off training for reasons unbeknownst to us. In this fight, he wouldn't even take making weight seriously. Originally, the fight was supposed to be in the low 160s. But by the time the contract was signed, the fight was to be fought at 168. And then, during the week of the fight, the contracted weight ballooned to 173 because Chavez wasn't close to the 168 weight limit. Poor Vera just had to suck it up because he was offered a six-figure payday for his troubles. After all, Chavez Jr. could afford it; Vera could not.
But even after being the size of a light heavyweight, Vera outfought Chavez Jr. in the eyes of most everyone except the three judges that mattered. It was a highly questionable display of leveraging celebrity status from a fighter who doesn't work nearly as hard as he should. The natural ability is there but the fire and desire is not. He assumed he could just roll over Sergio Martinez and paid dearly for his troubles before nearly pulling off the upset in the final round. Against Vera, he showed remarkable power but just didn't look interested in putting in the work to win in spectacular fashion.
The saying "to whom much is given, much is expected" applies directly to Chavez Jr. With boxing in his blood, he has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his career. But those flashes should be something more sustained considering the sheer amount of natural talent he possesses. Just imagine if he nailed the contracted weight regularly, didn't use recreational drugs and gave his all. He could be unbeaten with far more than the 5,000 that were scattered at the Home Depot center when he fought Vera. But, alas, Chavez Jr. has been his own worst enemy but has yet to really be penalized for his uninspired efforts.
So, here we are, waiting for Chavez' next fight. Talk of a super middleweight showdown with Andre Ward has been tossed around. But would it be fair to give Chavez that opportunity considering that he can't prove that he can make weight and should probably beat a top super middleweight. If he does land the Ward fight, it will be based off of his legendary name and not his recent accomplishments as you can argue that he's lost 16 of his last 22 rounds in the ring. He hasn't been as spectacular as he could have been.
If he were to fight Andre Ward, he would likely be taken to school by the tactical champion. For Ward, he could gain some recognition because Chavez is still viewed as a star (albeit a spoiled star). Either way, Chavez Jr. will be paid a lot of money to miss weight, skip out on training and then go into the ring and hope to knock someone out.
The sport deserves a better effort from a fighter who we know can give it to us if he were to try.
Andreas Hale is a former editor at websites including BET.com and HipHopDX.com. Today, he resides in the fight capital of the world and has covered boxing and MMA for mainstream media outlets such as MTV.com and Jay-Z's LifeandTimes.com, as well as die-hard outlets, including FightNews.com, Fight! Magazine, Ultimate MMA, CagePotato.com and others.
You can follow him on Twitter (@AndreasHale).
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