After 48 bouts as a professional boxer, there weren't many fighters who could match the upside of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. After fight No. 49, however, Chavez Jr. has gone from a rising star to one of the biggest question marks in the sport.
In order to salvage his status as a contender, Chavez Jr. needs a convincing win over Brian Vera.
Chavez Jr. and Vera will meet on Saturday, Sept. 28 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Dan Rafael of ESPN reports that the original weight limit for the fight was 168 pounds, but Chavez struggled to meet the required number.
In turn, the weight limit has been raised to 173 pounds.
This isn't the first time Chavez Jr. has struggled to meet the required weight.
For those unfamiliar with the mercurial fighter, he's a 27-year-old middleweight from Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico with an orthodox stance. Through 49 fights, Chavez is 46-1-1 with a no contest, previously winning the WBC Middleweight title.
Unfortunately, all of that potential has been wasted over the past two calendar years.
On Sept. 15, 2012, Chavez Jr. faced the toughest test of his career when he went toe-to-toe with Sergio Martinez for the WBC and The Ring middleweight titles. Chavez Jr. managed to send the 38-year-old to the mat during the Round 12, but it was too little, too late.
Martinez dominated the first 11 rounds and earned a unanimous decision victory to walk away with both championship belts.
That was the in-ring lowlight of a downward spiral for Chavez Jr., who tested positive for cannabis after the fight, per Lem Satterfield of RingTV.com. The offense was less than nine months after Chavez Jr. was arrested on DUI charges, per Dan Rafael of ESPN.
After failing the drug test, Chavez Jr. was suspended for nine months and fined $900,000 by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, according to Rafael.
Over one year later, Chavez Jr. is again having trouble, this time as he struggles to meet the original 168-pound weight limit. This is an issue that he's experienced in the past, and it is a testament to what is holding him back from joining the ranks of the elite.
Chavez Jr.'s lack of professionalism has insulted many in his craft and is the main reason why he's quickly losing support in the boxing world.
How to Make Things Right
Entering his fight against Vera, Chavez Jr. is under a different type of pressure than the average boxer experiences. No one will question his skills, but he needs to display a preparedness in the ring that proves his commitment to boxing.
If he does, then Chavez Jr. will learn what has proven true time-and-time before: Winning cures everything.
It's not the most ideal phrase, but it's proven to be the case with some of the most controversial figures in all of athletics. It's never more true than in boxing, where the one-on-one aspect makes any fighter easier to support or oppose than in a team sport.
For Chavez Jr., a win over Vera would take the general population's focus off of his past mistakes and remind us of why he's a big name to begin with. In turn, the Mexican star would re-emerge as a title contender in the middleweight division.
Should Chavez Jr. put up a lackluster performance, however, his status as a main event fighter will take a major hit. Controversy may sell, but the only time that phrase is applicable is when the fighter in question is dedicated to putting on strong performances.
After struggling with the original weight limit, Chavez Jr. is drifting further away from the spotlight. It's time he restores his focus and salvages his reputation with a win.