If Bryan Vera received a dollar for every time he has heard that he beat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. last September, he could probably sleep on a bed of money.
Countless posts on social media along with hundreds of articles and blogs stated that Vera should have had his arm raised in victory and not Chavez. But what counted were the three judges sitting at ringside and when their cards were tallied it was Chavez who was declared the victor by unanimous decision.
It was not the first time a controversial decision marred a decent fight – and Chavez and Vera put on an entertaining 10-round fight for the fans at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., and those watching on HBO – and it certainly will not be the last.
That does not mean Vera did not earn respect and admiration from his effort. Vera is a fighter and he is confident he will do more than enough during his rematch with Chavez on Saturday to get a convincing victory.
The return bout takes place at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, and will be televised live on HBO, starting at 9:45 p.m. ET/ 6:45 p.m. PT.
It was easy to feel sympathy for Vera after the first fight. To many, it looked as though he thoroughly outworked Chavez en route to an upset. Instead, he looked befuddled as he watched Chavez’s arm raised even though most of the crowd at the StubHub Center rained down boos once the outcome was announced.
While the decision was not overturned, a rematch was agreed to by Top Rank, which promotes Chavez, and Banner Promotions, which promotes Vera.
Will Vera make any adjustments against Chavez in the rematch or will he vie for the knockout and not rely on the judges? Regardless, Vera likes his chances.
“I’m going to do the same thing, except I’m going to do it better,” Vera told RingTV.com over the phone earlier this week. “I’m going to take the fight to him and go in there stronger.
“As far as the judges go, I have a lot of faith in the Texas Commission. I believe they’re fair. I don’t want to have any favoritism by them and I don’t expect them to favor Chavez in the fight. I expect them to be fair in this fight.”
That may be bold considering Texas has been the state where there have been controversial decisions or peculiar rule interpretations in recent years. Then again, Vera may be one to believe lightning will not strike twice and he is fighting not too far from his hometown of Austin.
Vera (23-7, 14 knockouts) has likely embraced the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” since the Chavez fight. Vera is too strong-willed to give up despite the decision and having a growing fan base support him has factored in to his confidence as well.
“I honestly thought I had the fight in the bag,” said Vera, who had a four-bout winning streak snapped with the loss to Chavez. “Maybe I was a little worried and the worst I felt the outcome was going to be was a draw. I felt sick to my stomach (when the decision was announced).
“I did feel down, but that’s boxing and I had to get back up. Having fans come up to me and tell me I was a warrior and a true fighter and that they respected me. It was a great feeling that people could back you up. It’s driven to work harder.”
When compared to world titleholders, contenders, or prospects, Vera has marched the road less traveled. He has been called in as an opponent on short notice, fought in opponents’ backyards, and not given a chance to win.
But here he is. Fighting on HBO for another sizeable purse to avenge a fight he does not believe he lost. While Vera’s drive, persistence, and aggressive style has earned him modest paydays, he fights for another purpose as well.
Vera is known to always be in the gym, rarely taking any time off from the gym. He prides himself in becoming the best fighter he can be, and he admits the fiasco of Chavez failing to make weight (although Chavez did weigh in at the same-week agreement of 173 pounds on the day of the weigh-in) in the first fight irked him.
Vera does not believe Chavez respects him or the sport of boxing enough to give it the full dedication like he has. A victory not only could lead to more significant paydays and world title opportunities, but it could also serve as a way to prove hard work does pay off.
“I feel disrespected by him because I believe he has had things handed to him while I’ve had to work very hard to earn it,” Vera said. “I come from a family where my Mom was a single parent and she supported me and my brothers. I know what it’s like to have to fight for something and earn it.”
While Chavez may possess more pedigree and skill inside the ring, Vera believes his sheer will and motivation are more the deciding factors against Chavez.
“I’ve never been babied,” he said. “I’ve always been a hard worker. I have a lot of respect for Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., but his son lacks that discipline that I’ve had since I was younger.”
Vera does not expect any sympathy despite what happened to him five months ago in Carson. He just wants to go about his business of preparing to be at his best and to give it his all on fight night.
It is a pretty simple formula that Vera has embraced all these years in the sport. Whether you like him or not, Vera has earned the respect of not backing down or to be complacent.
Instead, through all the trial and tribulations he has been through, Vera believes that victory will be his on Saturday night
“I know all my hard work will pay off (on Saturday night).”
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Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He could be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing