Bryan Vera expects to defeat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Why shouldn’t he?
On Sept 28, 2013 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, Vera threw and landed more punches than Chavez over 10 rounds, in what appeared to be a stunning upset win, the best of his career to date.
But judges Gwen Adair, Carla Caiz and Marty Denkin inexplicably awarded the bout to Chavez. Adair and Denkin’s scores were terrible, 98-92 and 97-93, for Chavez. Caiz at least had it close, 96-94, for the same.
But Vera should have won the fight, and he said he expects to be treated differently in his home state of Texas, just 80 miles south of his hometown in Austin.
Vera, 32, trains in Houston with Ronnie Shields.
“I feel like I’m getting better,” said Vera. "I started boxing late, so everything is coming together right now.”
Vera was an all-around athlete growing up. He played sports in school and didn’t first enter a boxing gym until he was 18 years old. At age 20, he decided to buckle down and take boxing more seriously after his dream of becoming a professional baseball player was derailed by an arm injury.
Twelve years later, Vera is one of the best fighters from Texas, and a frequent TV bout participant. He’s been with Shields for two years now, and is looking the best he’s ever looked over the last two years.
Vera said he isn’t changing anything for the rematch with Chavez. He said he did exactly what he wanted to do the first time, and he hopes to do the same in the rematch.
“My mindset is just to do the same thing: put a lot of pressure on him. Ronnie just tuned up a couple of things. Ronnie said ‘You beat him the first time. You don’t have to change a lot of things up.’”
The bout with ever-growing Chavez is set for 168 pounds, but Vera said his future after Chavez is most likely still at middleweight.
“I can still make middleweight. It’s not easy, but it’s not a problem either.”
Vera and his camp are confident they’ll pull off the win. The fighter told me he wants a middleweight title shot next, but that he’s down for whatever bout his team likes between 160 and 168 pounds. Vera, his trainer, Shields, and this strength coach, Danny Arnold, all told me Vera will be gunning for the knockout of Chavez this time around to keep things out of the judges' hands altogether.
“I think maybe fighting somebody like Sergio Martinez or Peter Quillin. Those are big fights. But if there is a super middleweight fight that my team likes, I’d do that too.”
Vera is a likable sort. He said he believes it’s so because he doesn’t pull any funny business before fights, and because he respects the sport.
“I just try to respect everybody. I honor the sport by making my weight and going out there, getting ready and preparing myself so nobody’s wasting their money on a fight.”
It’s an endearing trait, something that fight fans have gravitated towards, especially in the lone star state.
Vera wouldn’t predict when or how he’d beat Chavez, only that he’d get it done.
“I just know they’re going to raise my hand, man. I plan on putting a lot of pressure on him and breaking him down.”
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV