A deal has apparently been reached between Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, promoter of former WBC middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and Artie Pelullo, who handles Bryan Vera, for the fighters to meet at a catchweight of 173 pounds on Saturday, five pounds above the originally contracted super middleweight mark of 168.
The negotiations, confirmed by trainer Ronnie Shields, have raised questions about ethics and fairness, as well as the safety of Vera (23-6, 14 knockouts) facing Chavez Jr. (46-1-1, 32 KOs), whose problems with weight control and substance abuse have been well documented.
“I think that he’s a fascinating character study. He continues to get benefits of the doubt, here and there. That has established the physical advantage that allows him to be bigger than his opponents have been. He’s going to be bigger than Vera again,” said HBO’s Jim Lampley.
“I just think that it’s the nature of his life to be dealing with chaos, even at the same time he pursues the responsibility of being a fighter. He’s gotten away with it so far, and there’s nothing so special about Vera that convinces me that he’s not going to get away with it this weekend.”
Chavez Sr. was 89-0-1 before losing his first bout. The Mexican legend compiled an overall career mark of 107-6-2, with 86 knockouts. Despite never having competed as an amateur, Chavez Jr. has succeeded in a sport where sons of famous fathers rarely do.
“I think that his whole life has been chaotic. His life has been chaotic all the way through. He carries his father’s name, and deals with all of the histrionics that go with that name. He’s been more celebrated than his record as a fighter commands because of that name,” said Lampley.
“He’s also under more of a spotlight because of it than would otherwise be the case. He has sort of…been dealing with that since his early teenage years. What he’s accomplished in the ring already exceeds what I would have thought could be the case for him three or four years ago.”
Cloud (24-1, 19 knockouts) was derailed as IBF beltholder via unanimous decision loss to Bernard Hopkins in March, and Stevenson (21-1, 17 KOs) has vowed to take out Cloud with his “Superman punch,” having primarily campaigned as a 168-pounder before scoring June’s 76-second stoppage that dethroned RING 175-pound champion Chad Dawson.
Stevenson will be after his 10th straight stoppage win since being knocked out in the second round by Darnell Boone in April of 2010, a loss the southpaw avenged with a sixth-round stoppage prior to facing Dawson.
“There’s a chin question for Stevenson, who got knocked out by Darnell Boone. But one-punch knockout power is the rarest commodity in the sport of boxing, and Stevenson has it. Stevenson wants to land that big left hand. That’s really all that there is for him. Cloud wants a war of attrition. We’ve seen what Stevenson can do, so the first question in the fight is, ‘when Stevenson lands a bomb, can Cloud take it?’” said Lampley.
“I think that Cloud tries to drag Stevenson into a war and tries to show that he can either take or blunt that punch. If Cloud can, in fact, take the punch that Dawson couldn’t take, or if Cloud is able to get inside and muscle Stevenson out of position and prevent him from extending his arms and eliminate the chance for him to land that punch, what does Stevenson do in a war of attrition? If Cloud can get inside and stay on Stevenson’s chest, I don’t know what Stevenson does in that situation.”
LAMPLEY: CAN MANNY PACQUIAO OVERCOME PRESSURE, DEFEAT BRANDON RIOS?
Manny Pacquiao has admitted to “feeling a little pressure for” his November welterweight fight in Macau with rising junior welterweight Brandon Rios, adding, “an impressive victory against Rios will raise my name again in boxing.”
An eight-division titlewinner who turns 35 in December, Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 knockouts) has said that he will be in search of a knockout against Rios (31-1, 23 KOs), a former lightweight beltholder, just as he had heading into his welterweight bout last December with Juan Manuel Marquez.
Pacquiao was left face-down and motionless after being knocked cold after walking into a single, sensational counter right hand from Marquez at 2:59 sixth and final round of a matchup that had featured knockdowns by each fighter.
Even Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, has said that the loser of Pacquiao-Rios may be “finished” during an with RingTV.com in May, given that Rios, 27, is coming off of a unanimous decision loss to Mike Alvarado.
Against mounting odds, however, Lampley believes that Pacquiao can return to prominence.
“Manny got whacked out in his last fight by that one massive punch. You can find clear examples of guys who, after the one whack-out punch, were never the same again. Roy Jones was never the same after Antonio Tarver knocked him out. Calvin Brock didn’t come anywhere close to being the same after Wladimir Klitschko knocked him out. There are a lot of guys who do not come back from the whack-out experience. But I don’t think that Manny is one of those guys,” said Lampley.
“Plus, he has all of the tough responsibility that he’s assumed in the Philippines, and that’s a lot of weight to carry around. But I think that Manny will be able to come back to a high level. I think that there is tremendous incentive for him to do that. [Top Rank CEO] Bob Arum’s whole Pacific Rim plan is made to order for Manny Pacquiao to get back on track and to make tons of money and to keep bailing himself out from his spending habits and all of the things for which he is responsible in the Philippines.”
As a result of a seven-city tour promoting the clash with Pacquiao, Rios said, “my first impression of meeting Manny Pacquiao in Macau was that he was smaller than I thought he would be.”
Having been a 135-pound beltholder before rising into the 140-pound division for his matchups with Alvarado, Rios has said that it is his goal “to go out to and to dominate” Pacquiao, adding, “when I catch his ass, he’s going to go down.”
“Manny doesn’t have an easy assignment against Brandon Rios. He has technical advantages. He ought to be able to out-box Rios. He’s got way more variety in his game. He’s got better footwork. He’s got more speed. But if he forgets to box, and allows himself to go to war with Brandon Rios, he’s asking for trouble,” said Lampley.
“So, I think that this is going to be a situation where, just as Alvarado had to control himself and fight the right against Rios in their second fight, Pacquiao has to control himself to fight the right fight against Rios in Macau. I think that he will.”
Pacquiao-Rios culminates a successive row of matchups between welterweights Tim Bradley and Marquez, and junior welterweights Mike Alvarado and Ruslan Provodnikov, setting up the potential for a six-man, mix-and-match tournament once entertained by Arum.
“If Manny beats Rios, he still is a very large money attraction. So the winners of Bradley-Marquez, and, Alvarado-Provodnikov are possible candidates to fight a victorious Manny Pacquiao and to make a lot of money. Who is going to go out and earn the public’s support to be that guy?” said Lampley.
“On the other hand, I think that he wins the fight, probably by a late TKO. His hands are so much faster, and he still has power. That will rejuvenate the public confidence in Pacquiao if it happens that way. That can make the next fight a very nice attraction against, in my view, most likely whoever does best among Bradley-Marquez, and Alvarado-Provodnikov.”
DEONTAY WILDER TO FACE NICOLAI FIRTHA ON BERNARD HOPKINS-KARO MURAT CARD
Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez confirmed that heavyweight knockout specialist Deontay Wilder will face Nicolai Firtha and on the undercard of Bernard Hopkins’ IBF light heavyweight title defense against Karo Murat on Oct. 26 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
Advised by Al Haymon and trainer and co-manager Jay Deas and 1984 Olympic gold medalist and professional titleholder Mark Breland, the 6-foot-7 Wilder (29-0, 29 knockouts) is coming off back-to-back first-round KOs of ex-beltholder Sergei Liakhovich last month and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Audley Harrison in April.
A 34-year-old with a record of 21-10-1 that includes 8 KOs, Firtha was last in the ring for July’s six-round unanimous decision victory over Robert Hawkins in July that ended his two fight losing streak and a run of three losses in his previous four fights.
Firtha has been stopped four times, including by Tye Fields in the sixth round in 2009, and by Tyson Fury in the fifth round in 2011. Firtha has also gone the distance in 10-round losses to Alexander Povetkin and Johnathon Banks in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
A 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, Wilder served as a sparring partner for former heavyweight titleholder David Haye before his clash with unbeaten contender Fury was postponed from Sept. 28 to Feb. 8 after Haye suffered a cut during his final day of sparring on Friday, Sept. 19.
Wilder celebrated his 27th birthday last Oct. 22 in Austria while spending time as the primary sparring partner for RING, IBF, WBA and WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko as he trained for his unanimous decision victory over Mariusz Wach in November of last year.
Wilder had served in a similar capacity for Haye leading up to his unanimous decision loss to Klitschko in July of 2011.
JORGE LINARES RETURNS AGAINST RICHAR ABRIL
Former WBA featherweight titleholder Jorge Linares (34-3, 22 KOs) will pursue his fourth straight win and his third consecutive knockout victory against WBA lightweight beltholder Richar Abril (18-3-1, 8 KOs) on a Nov. 10 card from Tokyo, according to Golden Boy matchmaker Robert Diaz.
Promoted by Akihiko Honda’s Teiken Promotions, the card will also feature Japanenese WBC bantamweight titleholder Shinsuke Yamanaka against Mexico’s Alberto Guevara as well as WBA junior flyweight beltholder Roman Gonzalez and former junior lightweight titleholder Takahiro Ao against opponents to be determined.
ARTHUR ABRAHAM FACES GIOVANNI DE CAROLIS ON OCT. 26.
Former titleholder Arthur Abraham (37-4, 28 KOs) will meet Giovanni De Carolis (20-4, 10 KOs) in a super middleweight bout on Oct. 26 in Germany, according to the Sauerland Events website, in the hopes of gaining a rematch with WBO super middleweight titleholder Robert Stieglitz.
“Finally there is clarity for me. Now I will have to study my next opponent on tape together with my coach Ulli Wegner,” said Abraham, who has won a decision against Stieglitz and lost by fourth-round stoppage.
“With the perfect preparation and strategy, there is no doubt in my mind that I will leave the ring as the winner come October 26.”
Wegner already has examined the 29-year-old De Carolis.
“He is a good technician who likes to mix it up offensively. This will be a good test for Arthur,” said Wegner. “If he wins decisively, I will be more than excited about a third fight between him and Stieglitz in early 2014.”
OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST OLEKSANDR USYK SIGNS WITH K2 PROMOTIONS
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Photo by Ed Mulholland, Top Rank
Photo by Juan Marshall
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com