In boxing, "deserve" is a word with little meaning. With the right promotional connections, with the right adviser, with the right name, with the right country of origin, you can skip directly to the front of the line. This Saturday on HBO, the two A-side boxers are the recipients of boons they have not truly earned, but for opposite reasons. One is the beneficiary of all that is ugly about the sport -- a spoiled, lazy child who showed no respect for the rules to get a win he did not "deserve," but who got it anyway because he had a famous father and influential godfather. The other is exemplary -- fighting for a title in just his second pro fight, he has done nothing in the professional game to "deserve" such a high-caliber foe, but because of his talent, bravery and exceptional amateur record, he is getting one anyway, and it looks all the world like a truly excellent bout on the merits.
It must be said of Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., the headliner Saturday, that he did for a time rise to the level of a top middleweight contender. The famous last name got him on the map; his considerable bulk and natural punch resistance gave him a good start to build upon; and the improvement he demonstrated under trainer Freddie Roach moved him from hype to reality. He was moments away from dethroning the division's champion, Sergio Martinez in the final round of their 2012 meeting, although indicators of a lackaidaisical training camp could have robbed him of a win he might otherwise have snatched. It was his next fight that set up this one: a decision win over Brian Vera few thought he should've received, a outcome for which he needed an ever-shifting weight target and bad judging to get even that tarnished "W." This rematch will, apparently, shed light on whether a properly prepared Chavez can earn a victory outright -- and whether Vera, who fought as well as ever in the first bout, can deal with Chavez at full power.
The undercard bout is more enticing, and without the foul aftertaste. In recent years, we've seen a few Cuban amateur greats, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Yuriorkis Gamboa, do battle with much more advanced competition than new pros usually tackle. But Vasyl Lomachenko, a Ukranian amateur great, is putting them to shame Saturday with his second opponent, Orlando Salido. As much as they thrived early on, both Rigo and Gamboa hit speed bumps on the road to pro acclaim, none of them as merciless to one's chassis as Salido has demonstrated he can be. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find an opponent who could be any more dangerous to a new professional. He's not a man you get rid of easily, and while he can be outboxed, the longer the fight goes, the more fearsome he gets. If Lomachenko isn't ready for life in the ring without headgear, Salido will reveal that shortcoming painfully.no comments