Julio Caesar Chavez Junior fulfilled all the expectations everyone at all familiar with his career had for him and for the farcical contest which took place last night. He showed up overweight. He fought in unimpressive, unskilled fashion. He whaled away on a much smaller man. He won by decision in Texas. Even a clueless person could have called it a mile away. The only thing that made this night any different from other typical Junior evenings was the fact Chavez was given a random extra point by the referee for an accidental head butt.
Truth be told, I wanted Junior’s opponent, Marcos Reyes, to simply quit after he received that outrageous point deduction. What was the purpose of continuing? It wasn’t like Reyes had any chance of winning. Chavez was the guy the powers that be had smiled upon and that’s all there was to it. The only way Reyes could have pulled off a win was by knocking Chavez out and the Mexican underdog was simply too small to manage such a feat.
Think about it, though: even if Reyes did somehow put Chavez down, would anyone be truly surprised if the ref or the Texas officials ruled it a slip? The fact this is a legitimate question speaks volumes. What it probably doesn’t do, however, is surprise anyone.
After all, this is what boxing – at least to some extent – has always been about, hasn’t it? Some guys, be they mobsters, promoters with weird haircuts, or sons of legends, have simply gotten all the breaks. Fortunately, there’s other, far more positive aspects to boxing. This is a sport, after all, that gets people out of poverty, that keeps them from going back to jail, that gives individuals who are truly underprivileged a chance to feel a sense of real self-worth. No other sport does that, not the way boxing does.
So yeah, in the end the good outweighs the bad when it comes to the fight game. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be following the sport, would we? Sometimes you actually have to make a concerted effort to reflect on boxing’s good points in order to get the rancid taste of the bad out of your mouth. And last night was bad. Because there was real anger during the Chavez fight — in the audience, on the internet, and even among the Showtime broadcast team. It’s a good thing Junior thanked Al Haymon after the bout, because no one else was going to.
Even the look on Chavez trainer Robert Garcia’s face spoke volumes after the judge’s cards had been read. He knew what a farce the whole thing was, despite what he said, or may say, to the contrary. So did Brian Custer, the man who is hands down the most underrated on-air analyst in the sport. Unlike Garcia, however, Custer felt free to speak his mind.
The irony here, as brought up by a member of the Showtime team, is that it wasn’t, despite its stench, a particularly boring fight. Reyes was in it to win and he hung tough until the very end. If he had the power, he’d have done what Mr. Fonfara did not long ago. Indeed, I’m guessing thousands, if not millions, of people worldwide kept their eyes glued to their televisions, wondering if Reyes might pull it off.
Chavez, after all, didn’t look that great (nothing new there, I know). In fact, there were times when the match came across as almost comical, with a kind of “Jack and the Beanstalk” element to it. Sometimes you can’t help but smile when a much bigger man clumsily chases a much smaller man around for minutes on end. Which leads me to another point.
Reyes was smiling afterwards, so why shouldn’t we? He knows what went down, just like everyone else who saw the fight. What’s more, Reyes kept himself from getting hurt in a dangerous situation (when people mess around with weight in boxing, it can be dangerous indeed), earned what is no doubt a solid check, and got some love from the public. All in all, not a bad way to wrap things up for a largely unknown middleweight.
Besides, Chavez’ legacy is in ruins now. He might even be considered the Primo Canera of time. Their stories are very different but the themes of exploitation and being captive to a situation not entirely of one’s making still apply. But what makes Junior’s situation even more pathetic is the fact that, believe it or not, he has the makings of a decent boxer. Not a great champion, but a solid, respectable fighter. Which is laudable for the son of a great (ask Marvis Frazier).
But Junior doesn’t have to live up to even his own modest skill level. The sad fact is he’s well rewarded even when he screws up and is surrounded by handlers and enablers who are doing all they can to keep the gravy train going. And yes, it will continue to run. Every train eventually runs out of track, however. Who’s going to weep for Junior when there’s no more steam left in the engine, when people have seen all they want to of the guy, when opponents decide it’s better to skip the paycheck than fight someone with so many unfair advantages?
Believe it or not, I feel bad for Junior. I shouldn’t, I know, but I do. He’s spoiled, entitled, lazy and, worst of all, he’s rewarded for having the very qualities the rest of us strive to avoid. He doesn’t get it, though, not at all. And there’s something almost tragic about someone who has no idea how pathetic he is. — Sean Crose