Weekend Afterthoughts On The Condition Of Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.’s Silver Spoon, 24/7, More

Carla Caiz, no, look at Brian Vera throwing a punch, not at whatever the hell is over there! (h/t)

Everybody has their opinions about what's wrong with boxing, or, at least, what's most wrong with boxing. There is bad promoting, performance enhancing drugs, proliferation of belts… in truth, all of these things and more are wrong with boxing, and what feels most wrong with boxing changes with the news cycle. Right now, what feels most wrong with boxing is the judging, after C.J. Ross' draw card for Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez earlier this month and this weekend's scorecards that gave Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. a wide victory from two judges in a fight that no one in the media scored for Chavez (Caiz's card was closer but still for Chavez). What stands out about that is how nothing is being done about it, and the complete intractability of the problem. People are trying to do things about PEDs. People are trying to do things about the proliferation of belts. What can be done about bad judging? Would wholesale firing sprees work? Do we have any reason to believe a new batch of super-competent judges would come in and be better, and if so, what's taken them so long to get here even without firing sprees? What about investigations of high-profile bad decisions? Didn't work, hardly any "investigation" even seemed to happen in the most recent example. Disciplinary action, maybe? It's been tried, but have we seen any improvement as a result of it?

We've been through this before: The one thing I can think of that might make the most difference almost certainly won't happen, and that's ending the connection between judges' fees and the boxing promoters. No, promoters don't exactly hand checks to the judges directly, but they do give money to the state commissions for judges' fees and have the right to say "no" to specific judges. It isn't outright corruption but it is as close as the sport comes — when you know who's paying you and you know who can keep you from getting paid if they don't like you, every incentive is to do what you think they want you to do. I have no proof that Gwen Adair, Marty Denkin and Caiz were motivated by this, but it's at least plausible that it factored into their thinking, given how they're the only people in the world who apparently thought Chavez won and Chavez winning was the clear preference of Top Rank Promotions, who put on the show. Giving unchecked authority to the state commissions to pick judges can backfire, though — even if in C.J. Ross' case Golden Boy Promotions had a chance to say no and didn't — and states shouldering all of the judges' expenses in a fiscal environment where other services are being cut isn't probable.

After that, real scrutiny of selected judges; real investigations of bad decisions; yes, more frequent seminars to make sure judges are trained properly; a committed recruiting effort to find capable judges; and a good deal than that could help, but only if they're real and committed. So far, we haven't gotten enough of even those intermediate steps.

  • Chavez antics. Chavez's spoiled brat antics make Veruca Salt look like Charlie Bucket, by comparison. At least the chickens are finally coming home to roost. A little more than 5,000 people came to see Chavez-Vera, a decent enough crowd for a non-Chavez fight that was otherwise perhaps turned off by the bout's postponement, the perception that it was a mismatch and most importantly, blowback for him shifting the weight around to whatever he damn well pleased, all the way up to 173 pounds the last week. Gone were the tens of thousands who came to see Chavez last year; the gate revenue was a mere $334,000. For all this, Chavez still made $2.5 million apparently before what he conceded to Vera in exchange for the weight buy-off; he still won a fight he didn't deserve to win — a draw would've been viable — he refused to step onto the scale the night of the fight to show how much he had gained; and he complained to the ref infinitely about non-fouls as if he was still owed yet more unchecked favoritism. Referee Lou Moret telling Chavez to "stop crying" made him the real winner of the fight, in my book. And somehow he expects trainer Freddie Roach will take him back, after Roach got fed up with his behavior and told him to buzz off. But ah, those chickens: The notion that anyone was going to do anything about this jackass' jackassery other than coddle it prior to Saturday was hard to imagine, as long as he was the financial engine that kept Top Rank, HBO and California humming down the highway. Now that it's not so clear he's worth the money, he should get less of it next time, and while he's gotten enough to date that it might not motivate him to change his ways, his reduced selling power will reduce his leverage with all involved and maybe make it so he can't ad hoc his way through a training camp, or at least not get the next close decision. Listening to the fans boo his "win" was great evidence that while boxing is a sport where blind ethnic and regional allegiances are tolerated and even nurtured, even the Mexican fans who have supported Chavez so far are starting to see through his act.
  • Vera's performance. Vera most certainly took advantage of a sluggish, poorly trained Chavez, but he did exactly what he needed to to best take advantage of it. He never has looked so nimble, his defense never so tight (OK, it wasn't tight by any reasonable standard, but it's never been THAT tight before). Chavez's immobility was part of it, but Vera and trainer Ronnie Shields produced the right game plan to counter that, moving in and out and throwing flurries of hard punches. He should have the win of his career right now for his efforts, and be in an exceptionally strong position for another massive payday. As it is, though, he apparently will get at least another really good one in a return on HBO. His promoter Artie Pelullo said he could be in line next for middleweight champion Sergio Martinez or heir apparent Gennady Golovkin. He's a more acceptable opponent for Martinez for me at this point; as good as this performance was, as unexpected as it was, what he showed mainly is that he could take advantage of a fat, undertrained light heavyweight, and his record among men his own size is less distinguished. Thus, he makes sense as a comeback opponent for an injured Martinez, less sense as an opponent for a prime, peaking GGG. Either way, it's great news that HBO recognized what Vera brought to the table with a hard-nosed performance and what he deserves for being ripped off.
  • Virgil Hunter and Andre Ward. Super middleweight champion Ward and his trainer want Chavez, and they can't have been too happy with how the fight made Chavez look or the size of the audience in the StubHub Center. Ward has taken some heat for his commentary on the fight, and while some of the gripes are valid, I thought it a less biased showing than in some of his recent commentary involving potential or past opponents. Ward was critical of Chavez's inactivity and conditioning, and sometime contradicted Jim Lampley's positive remarks, although Lampley also was pretty critical at times. Maybe the overall tone of the commentary was more friendly from both men than it should've been — Ward didn't seem to have anything to say about Chavez's weight antics — but it wasn't as misguided as it sometimes is. Damning with faint praise, I know. Ward, too, has since said that he didn't think Chavez deserved the win. Hunter — now he's gone a whole different direction. He's implied some kind of shady judicial skullduggery that he witnessed, without giving many details. If you're going to lob those kind of allegations, you have an obligation to back them up, and he must at least report what he saw to the pertinent authorities if he doesn't feel like detailing it to the public. One thing about Chavez-Ward: It's now becoming clear to me why Top Rank was ever considering feeding Chavez to Ward, something that made no sense before given how obviously Ward would dismantle him. They may very well know that this lazy punk is going to get bumped off in some low-end fight before he takes a bigger money bout, as the Ward bout would be. And now, Ward can say he drew the bigger audience of the two in their last respective fights, at least until Ward fights Edwin Rodriguez, where we'll see if he draws more than 5,000.
  • Next for Adonis Stevenson. We might have to wait a while for the light heavyweight champion to get into the ring with the man the hardcore fans are dying to see him fight: Sergey Kovalev. And while I probably would still favor Kovalev, Stevenson's performance against Tavoris Cloud was so dominant — he won every round on every non-insane person's scorecard — that I'm having second thoughts. This level of boxing ability from Stevenson has reared its head before, but not in such quantities or with such consistency. In short: The win over Chad Dawson was no fluke, his power at 175 no illusion. Just ask Cloud's shattered orbital bone. Or don't, because it doesn't have vocal cords, but you get my meaning. Anyway, Stevenson is going to defend his alphabet belt against his mandatory challenger next, and after rolling through Tony Bellew, at least from what I expect, he'll want to pay close attention to the winner of the all-Canadian Lucian Bute-Jean Pascal. Since Stevenson drew an audience of 9,000-plus, the winner of Stevenson-Bute/Pascal is basically the King of Canada, and it would be a rich fight. Plus, then, there's super middleweight champion Andre Ward, another potential rich fight given his HBO backing. At this point we're looking at late 2014 at the earliest for Stevenson-Kovalev if it plays out that way, right? That would be too bad. All we can hope is that Kovalev turns himself into an economic force beyond his own HBO backing that makes it so Stevenson wants Kovalev sooner rather than later.
  • Bradley/Marquez 24/7. The opening installment for HBO's latest market-mentuary or docu-marketing series, for the welterweight pay-per-view fight later this month between Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez, was better than most for at least one reason: Neither man was Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. It's hard not to be sick of those two just because the've been featured over and over again. Bradley's derpiness in continuing to insist that he beat Pacquiao was annoying, but he's mostly a charismatic figure. And I continue to think that the Nevada State Athletic Commission's Keith Kizer would be better served by providing more details about its PED testing regime than fewer beforehand, although there's a chance he'll be vindicated in that. Main thing is, this series is worth watching just for the exposure to new personalities, new storylines, and the first episode obviously wasn't hurt by reliving Bradley-Ruslan Provodnikov and Marquez-Pacquiao IV.
  • The Rest. Not exactly from the weekend, but Monday on Fox Sports 1, welterweight Sadam Ali got dropped (off-balance, a little) and pushed hard by Jay Krupp en route to a unanimous decision win. He needed to step it up badly; he's not as advanced a prospect as fellow 2008 U.S. Olympian Gary Russell, Jr., but he was still due for stiffer competition. He didn't impress all that much against Krupp but he also could learn from that win… Top 10 bantamweight Stephane Jamoye got upset on his home soil in Belgium by Karim Guerfi, who was coming off a defeat by a lesser fighter than Jamoye, and had lost three of his last six, including against one flyweight contender. Bad loss for Jamoye… There were some other notable results from the weekend involving rebuilding contenders and up-and-coming prospects. Check 'em out.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.