Seeing will be believing, but former middleweight titlist Julio Chavez Jr. vowed on Thursday that he would make weight and be in top form for his March 1 rematch with Bryan Vera.
"People are going to see I have the fire and hunger back," Chavez said at a news conference in San Antonio at the Alamodome to formally announce the 12-round HBO main event. "I have been training for five months and my weight is perfect."
When Chavez and Vera met in a 10-rounder on Sept. 28 in Carson, Calif., they put on a tremendous show, but the heavily favored Chavez didn't make the 168-pound limit for the bout, necessitating a deal with the smaller Vera the week of the bout to raise the limit to 173. Vera pocketed an extra six-figure payment for his trouble and then fought the fight of his life, one that many believe he clearly won. However, Vera lost a decision that included two wide scorecards that left many shaking their heads and calling for a rematch.
"The last time we fought, I was coming off a hurtful loss [to middleweight champion Sergio Martinez] and was out of the ring for over a year," Chavez said, failing to note that the reason he was sidelined for so long was a nine-month suspension for a positive drug test after the fight. "While training to fight Vera, I made a call to [Top Rank promoter] Bob Arum saying I was having a weight problem and needed help. In that fight I was maybe 40 or 50 percent of myself and deep inside I knew it would be a difficult fight."
If Chavez misses weight again Vera gets an additional $250,000, according to Arum and Vera promoter Artie Pelullo. This time around, regardless of the weight, Vera (23-7, 14 KOs) is vowing to make sure he wins.
"I plan to beat Chavez decisively this time," said Vera, who is from Austin, Texas. "I have fans from all parts of Texas, plus former fans of Chavez who are now on my side because of what happened in our first fight.
"He is a big guy and is hard to hurt. In our first fight I thought the crowd overreacted when he landed a few punches. He ran around a lot, not fighting like he did against Andy Lee. Chavez caught me with a couple of big shots, but I wasn't buzzed that much. I expected much more from him.
"I thought I won the first fight. My trainer, Ronnie Shields, thought so too, and that got everyone in my corner excited. When I heard a 98-92 score, my heart told me I would not get my hand raised. I was in sudden shock. We have a new plan of attack -- more movement, that kind of stuff. It's going to be a lot different this time."
Chavez (47-1-1, 32 KOs), despite the controversy, said that he rightfully deserved the decision.
"I controlled the first fight and connected on more punches," Chavez said. "The thing is that Vera actually thought he won the first fight, which will make this fight even better. He wants to win. But I have more hunger and no weight problem. I am more motivated. This fight will do away any doubt who is the better fighter."