Coming off the first loss of his career, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-1-1) faces a must-win situation when he steps into the ring to take on Brian Vera (28-6) on Saturday night.
It wasn't much more than a year ago that Chavez Jr. was one of boxing's fastest-rising stars. At 26 years old with an undefeated record and a WBO middleweight title around his waist, he had all the tools to become a household name to even the most casual boxing fans.
That all took a major hit when he dropped a unanimous decision to Sergio Martinez in Sept. 2012. Now his drawing power relies on the name recognition that comes from being the son of a Mexican legend.
While his last name will sustain his popularity to an extent, maintaining an elite record will make him a true star. Vera isn't the most well-known opponent, but beating him will be the first step on Chavez Jr.'s road to redemption.
Here's what to look for when these two go toe-to-toe on HBO on Saturday night.
Keys to Victory for Chavez Jr.
But that doesn't mean he can afford to take Vera lightly, either. Chavez doesn't just need a win here; he needs an emphatic one. That means he must be aggressive early and look to turn this into a brawl.
Chavez is the bigger fighter (more on that later) and holds a distinct advantage in power (32 KOs). The sooner he can make Vera feel that power and begin to break down, the sooner he'll be able to take over the fight.
This could be a relatively short night for Vera if Chavez Jr. presses the issue and goes to the body early and often.
Keys to Victory for Vera
He must avoid his natural inclination to go to war with Chavez. While he usually doesn't shy away from a brawl, exchanging power shots with Chavez is going to be a losing battle.
Martinez was able to consistently outpoint Chavez with his movement and quickness. Now it's time for Vera to employ a similar strategy. He's nowhere near the skilled boxer that Martinez is, but it's the best chance he has.
Storyline to Watch: Will the Weight Matter?
The buildup to this fight has generally been quiet, but controversy still abounds on the scales.
The bout was originally scheduled to be fought at 168 pounds; however, concerns over Chavez's ability to get down to that weight forced officials to increase the limit to 173 pounds, per Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports.
Even with the increased limit, Chavez Jr. still had a difficult time cutting the weight.
Anytime a fighter misses weight, the bout has an interesting dimension. Will Chavez have an advantage from being the much bigger fighter, or will poor conditioning come back to bite him?
Chavez was in the sauna FOR HOURS this morning attempting to get under the 173-pound limit. He weighed 172.4.— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) September 27, 2013
If the increased weight limit is due to a lack of professionalism from Chavez, this fight will probably be as one-sided as everyone expects. If an issue in camp prevented him from getting down to 168, it could be a much more even fight.