Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is going to be overweight, even in a fight in which the weight limit is constantly rising to accommodate his lack of interest in both training and meeting contractual obligations.
Chavez will fight Bryan Vera on Saturday in an HBO-televised match at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
When the fight was first agreed upon, the contracted weight was 163. Then, Chavez was cut and the bout was postponed. When it was rescheduled, it was set for 168, because Chavez didn't keep working while his cut healed and he knew that making 163 was a pipe dream.
But then Chavez waltzed his way through training and informed everyone this week that he couldn't make 168, either.
So, the weight limit will be whatever he weighs at Friday's weigh-in. He paid Vera an undisclosed sum for the right to not have to make weight, a travesty of epic proportions.
Chavez is arguably the most unprofessional athlete in boxing, which is saying a lot. But the son of the Hall of Famer is not solely to blame in this fiasco.
Blame co-promoters Bob Arum and Fernando Beltran for much of this mess. Because Chavez is a cash cow, they allow him to dictate the rules.
Blame executives at HBO Sports, who see the large ratings Chavez garners and wouldn't even think of pulling the plug on a fight that gets increasingly more dangerous with every pound Chavez packs on.
Someone has to stand up to the guy and take a stand and force him to pay the consequences for his lack of professionalism.
Vera is set to earn a career-high purse. Add in the money that Chavez will pay as a penalty and Vera has plenty of incentive to fight.
It's hard to blame Vera for accepting all of Chavez's nonsense because he trained a long time for the fight and won't get paid unless the bell rings.
But, sometimes it's about more than money.
Weight is only one issue in deciding a fight. Floyd Mayweather proved that when he beat Canelo Alvarez on September 14.
When the fighters walked into the ring at the MGM Grand Garden that night, Mayweather was 150, a half-pound lighter than he was the previous day at the weigh-in. Alvarez had rehydrated up to 165, adding 13 pounds.
But there are weight classes in boxing for a reason, and few fighters are remotely as gifted as Mayweather. Vera may well be outweighed by 20 pounds when the bell rings in Carson on Saturday.
Chavez was a 12-1 favourite before the increase in weight. Vera was selected as Chavez's opponent because he's a heart-and-soul fighter who isn't nearly as talented as Chavez. The result, promoters knew, would likely be a Chavez win after a few good exchanges that pleased the fans.
The mystery surrounding Chavez's weight changes the outlook of the fight dramatically. Vera is gambling that the added weight Chavez will carry will slow him down and make him more vulnerable.
That may well happen.
But there is another side that has a much gloomier outlook for Vera. Vera himself will weigh more than normal, because he'll be able to put on more weight. That could slow him down and make him even easier to hit than normal.
Chavez is nothing if not a hard-hitter. If Vera is slower and more sluggish than usual because he put on some extra weight, the fight could become even more dangerous for him than it was when he signed the deal.
Boxing is a risky sport to begin with, and every fighter who steps between the ropes understands what the consequences may be. The key is to minimize the risk by making sure the fighters are in shape, healthy and evenly matched.
Vera, though, is venturing into the unknown, and in a sport like boxing that is fraught with danger, that is no good.
His risk quotient will shoot way up if Chavez comes into the ring on Saturday with a 20-pound weight advantage and Vera isn't able to fend him off.
Arum and Beltran could have helped prevent it by forcing Chavez to act professionally and make the weight. They didn't want to, though, because like the fighters, they don't make money when there is no fight.
HBO Sports could have put a stop to it, but it didn't act, because it knows Chavez will draw a lot of viewers and perhaps bring in some new subscribers.
Showtime Sports is catching, and may have already passed, HBO Sports in terms of being the boxing network. It's regularly putting on better fights than HBO, and usually features bouts with more meaning.
A Chavez-Vera fight always promised to be entertaining, because Vera is a hard-nosed fighter who will not shy away.
But the fighters aren't generally considered to be in the same class talent-wise, with Chavez perceived to be much more gifted (hence the 12-1 odds).
After Showtime's string of successes, HBO desperately needs a winning card, and it's banking on Chavez to help get it.
So what if he ignores the rules and weighs what he wants?
This is the way of boxing, cow-towing to the moneymakers, but these kinds of practices have to end.
The safety of the fighters should always trump money, but as Chavez-Vera proves, that's still not even close to being the case.
Kevin Iole | Author profile
- Sports & Recreation
- Julio Cesar Chavez Jr