WBO middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has a large, red welt between two of the knuckles on his swollen right hand where stitches were required stitches to close a cut sustained during an accident with a ceiling fan a little more than two weeks ago.
During that time, the unbeaten 25-year-old has mad vane attempts to use that fist during sparring sessions, determined to defend his belt against Ronald Hearns in Chavez's native Culiacan, Mex., on Sept. 17.
But Chavez's manager, Billy Keane, has seen the damaged fist, and says Chavez-Hearns simply can not happen.
"When I look at the hand, it's up by his top two knuckles, and it's where the cut was. There's a big, puffy, red ring around it, and it's like the top of the knuckles are swollen. It's been a nagging thing that has not gone away and it's gotten worse," said Keane.
"Julio's had two very bad sparring days with that hand. When he's punching the bag, he's not punching with that hand. You can see it when he's punching the double-end bag. I mean, it's infected around the stitch area. He can't make a tight fist. It's unfortunate. He really wants to fight, but he just can't."
Keane said that Chavez (43-0-1, 30 knockouts) will have to pull out of his scheduled defense against the 32-year-old Hearns (26-2, 20 KOs) as a result of the injury, although the fighter still wants to compete and is expected to have another examination on Friday.
Keane said Chavez lacerated his hand while exercising in his house and had already received stitches before attending an Aug. 15 press conference announcing their fight.
"I've been trying to tell him to pull the plug on this fight for a little bit now, since he originally got stitches in his hand. But he really wanted to do it. He wanted to do it for his father. So he was trying to go ahead with it," said Keane.
"I went down to Tijuana to see him…and his hand was still all swollen and red and puffy. You know, he still wants to fight. He just texted me saying that he still wants to fight. And we're going to know officially after hearing from a doctor tomorrow [Friday.] but if you listen to me, you know, no doctor is going to allow him to fight with that hand. He's just not going to be able to. I'm confident about that, as much as he wants to. He just can't."
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org