Eric Gay/Associated Press
It was a night of redemption and disappointment on Saturday at the Alamodome in Houston.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the famed son of the Mexican legend bearing the same name, returned from back-to-back subpar performances. He defeated—legitimately—Brian Vera by a clear unanimous decision.
The result represented a stunning reversal from their first fight, which Chavez won under highly controversial circumstances, despite being outworked by Vera for most of the fight.
The rematch took on a similar feel to the first fight, with Vera attempting to throw more punches but Chavez slinging the heavier artillery. Unlike the initial contest, Chavez was visibly better conditioned and determined to take the initiative from his foe. He wasn’t content to let Vera’s rallies go unanswered, and he battered him at every opportunity.
You can praise Vera for his heart all day long—he was taking some serious leather, particularly in the final few rounds, with a smile on his face—but it's clear that he's just a step or so below this level.
With the win, Chavez immediately places his name back into the running for some significant fights. Gennady Golovkin, the WBA middleweight champion, remains the primary name on the lips of many observers, and Chavez expressed a desire for that fight in the ring in post-fight comments to HBO's Max Kellerman.
On the undercard, Vasyl Lomachenko failed in his attempt to become the boxer to win a world championship the fastest since turning pro. In just his second professional fight, he was battered by Orlando Salido. The clear decision proved that the jump from amateur to professional is rife with pitfalls.
Right at the outset, it seemed clear that Lomachenko had bitten off more than he could chew. Salido ruthlessly worked him to the body, peppering him with a mix of legal and illegal blows and making it uncomfortable for the Ukrainian challenger.
Salido, who dropped his title on the scales Friday by failing to make the 126-pound limit, was the clearly bigger man. He stepped through the ropes, unofficially according to HBO, at 147 pounds, which made him a full-blown welterweight.
Lomachenko's punches seemed to have no effect on Salido until the final round. With the fight seemingly slipping away, the Ukrainian battered his foe for the full three minutes, nearly turning the fight on its head.
But the judges got this one right, as Salido was the stronger, better fighter—even if he did land about a hundred uncalled low blows.
That means it's back to the drawing board for Lomachenko, who has a lot to learn—and back to the pack of top contenders—once again—for the rugged, underrated Salido.