CARSON, CALIF.-Julio Cesar Chavez was seemingly out-punched, out-conditioned and out-smarted but was given a very controversial unanimous decision against Bryan Vera after 10 rounds in a light heavyweight fight that was supposed to be a super middleweight fight on Saturday.
Chavez (47-1-1, 32 Kos) seemed to be out-worked by Vera (23-7, 14 Kos) in a fight that took place in the light heavyweight division instead of the originally contracted super middleweight. But more than 5,000 mostly Chavez fans saw a strange unanimous decision go toward the popular Mexican fighter.
“Of course I won the fight,” said Chavez (seen being backed up by Vera in Al Applerose photo) after the fight. “He was fighting dirty.”
For most of the 10 rounds Vera was the fighter making the action and Chavez was the counter-puncher. Three judges saw it in favor of Chavez.
Vera did most of the punching in the first round. He used double jabs and some combinations against Chavez, who was constantly on the move. A couple of left hooks from Chavez found the mark but did no damage. Meanwhile Vera’s jab was connecting and several combinations found the mark too.
Chavez continued moving away in round two and allowed Vera to take the initiative. Several combinations from the Texan landed but did not hurt the bigger Chavez. Again, Vera was making the fight and much more busy than Chavez.
Round three saw Vera continue to make the fight, especially with his busy left jab followed by combinations. Chavez landed a counter right flush but it caused no damage to Vera who smiled every time he was hit by Chavez.
Vera ate a left hook and stood motioning with his hands as if to ask the crowd why Chavez’s vaunted left hook didn’t do anything to him in round four. Chavez then unloaded some gruesome right hands and another left hook that probably won the Mexican fighter the round.
Chavez seemed to be looking for the big punch (as in the Chris Farina-Top Rank photo) and though he landed a few, it was Vera who was out-hustling him with combination punching in round five. A four-punch combination from the Texan scored and a left-right combo tagged Chavez well. A perfectly placed right cross by Chavez score big but was it enough to win the round?
A sneaky right cross by Chavez connected solidly and slightly wobbled Vera, who shook it off and continued to pressure the taller fighter in round six. Chavez landed a few more rights and a left hook but Vera never stopped pressing forward. A combination by the Texan made it interesting, but it was Chavez’ round.
Vera was winning round seven easily when he got cocky and allowed Chavez to connect with a left hook flush. Vera shook momentarily and Chavez tried to follow up but couldn’t. It was a close round to score. Both connected with blows but Vera added some scoring jabs too.
Good round for Vera in the eighth as Chavez seemed to take his foot off the pedal. Vera fired combinations at will while Chavez looked for that home-run punch. Left uppercuts and left hooks landed for Vera as the Mexican fighter looked a little tired.
Vera shortened his punches and began firing combinations, including multiple uppercuts. Though Chavez was never hurt by the blows they were scoring as Chavez looked for the big blow to end the fight. He may have felt he was ahead on points but many of the fans saw it as a close fight.
The final round saw Vera open with a jab and also score with a three-punch combination. Then, Chavez fired a double left hook, a left uppercut right hand combination and a right hand. Vera then began to play around a little and that seemed to give the round to Chavez.
When the scores were read many expected a victory for Vera, but instead it was Chavez who was given the unanimous decision; 98-92 by Gwen Adair, 97-93 by Marty Denkin and 96-94 by Carla Caiz. A shockwave of derision rumbled through the crowd, except for the die-hard Chavez fans who seemed relieved by the decision.
“I definitely won the fight,” said Vera. “We had a game plan and I stuck to it.”
Chavez was confident that he deserved the fight, especially in light of the low blows, head butts and other alleged infractions.
Art Pelullo, the president of Banner Promotions, which promotes Vera, said he wasn’t peeved by the one card that saw it 96-94, but the other two cards were in his opinion out of order.
“First, you want to see the right guy win,” said Pelullo. “But that judge who scored it 98-92 didn’t watch the fight. She seemed to have her scores already made.”
After the fight Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. said he had his son winning the fight, but admitted it was a very close fight. “I don’t judge with my heart, I judge with my head,” Chavez Sr. said. “I had Julio winning five or six rounds for certain.”
Vera said he could only give Chavez three rounds.
“If you look at the stats you can see I landed a lot more punches,” said Vera. “I had a feeling something like this was going to happen.”
Karim “HardHitta” Mayfield (18-0-1, 11 Kos) started slowly but caught his rhythm against Utah’s Chris Fernandez in round four when he floored him twice. The fight resumed with Fernandez hanging on stubbornly and full of fight until round eight. Mayfield fired a left hook to the body and Fernandez slumped to the floor and could not get up. Referee Ray Corona stopped the fight at 2:59 of round eight for a knockout win for Mayfield, who brought hundreds of fans from San Francisco.
Las Vegas contender Diego Magdaleno (24-1, 9 Kos) breezed through Edgar “Trash” Rio Valle (35-16-2, 25 Kos) after 10 rounds in a junior lightweight bout. Magdaleno had lost a world title bid this past April and changed training camps from Las Vegas to Indio, California. Though he won every round according to the judges, Magdaleno was not satisfied. “I was very rusty in there,” Magdaleno said.
Indio’s Gabino Saenz (11-0-1, 8 Kos) erupted on Dominic Coca (8-5) with a left hook that sent him to the canvas. Coca got up but was under fire from Saenz. A Saenz double right wobbled Coca and referee Lou Moret jumped in to stop the fight at 2:27 of the first round for a technical knockout.
Mexico’s Daniel “Galeno” Sandoval (33-2, 30 Kos) out-worked the ultra-defensive Richard Gutierrez (26-12-1, 16 Kos) after 10 rounds of a junior middleweight match. Sandoval won by unanimous decision in a very tedious fight.
Jose Felix Jr. (25-0-1, 20 Kos) blew out Ghana’s tall Joseph Laryea (11-9, 10 Kos) in the first round in their lightweight clash. The fighter from Los Mochis attacked Laryea and caught him with a left hook and right hand. Laryea did not beat the count at 2:37 of round one.
Jose Ramirez (6-0, 4 Kos) unloaded early against Denver’s Daniel Calzada (8-9-2) and kept it going for all four rounds. Calzada and Ramirez showed good chins but it was Ramirez’s speed that proved the difference. All three judges scored it 40-36 for the former U.S. Olympian Ramirez, a junior welterweight.
Oscar Valdez (7-0, 6 Kos) knocked out Jose Morales (7-5-1) of Denver at 1:57 of round two of a featherweight bout.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV