Bryan Vera wasn't going to let a little thing like losing kill his buzz.
So, as television analysts gasped and Internet know-it-alls ranted in the aftermath of his first run-in with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the contented Texan -- beaten only in the eyes of three dubious West Coast judges -- went on with his night the same way he would have had his hand been raised.
“We went out and we partied,” he said. “The people all backed me and everybody knew what happened. I'd been in training camp for 16 weeks for that fight and I hadn't seen my friends or family too often, so we all went out that night and didn't go back to the drawing board until I got home.”
Soon after returning to Austin and reveling in the sudden adulation his “loss” created, Vera was compensated for the indignity when Chavez's promoter -- Top Rank -- announced that it would match the two fighters again rather than rewarding the big name for the suspect California triumph.
The sequel, much nearer Vera's home turf, comes Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio, where it will be contested over 12 rounds at 168 pounds rather than the 10 rounds and weight-to-be-named-later hi-jinx of the first go-round in suburban Los Angeles.
That bout, at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., had initially been pegged for 163 pounds before it was postponed due to a cut Chavez sustained in training. It was rescheduled for three weeks later at 168 pounds, but ultimately wound up at 173 when Chavez declared that he couldn't make the super middleweight limit and paid the Vera team to agree to change to the new specs.
Chavez ultimately tipped in at 172½ pounds -- more than 12 pounds north of his previous career high -- while Vera came it at 171¼, the first time he'd ever scaled above 168. Chavez said in the rematch run-up that he's enjoyed his best training camp since a TKO defeat of Andy Lee in 2012, while Vera insists he's right on target weight-wise after his own 11-week pre-fight grind.
“I always feel good, but I feel ahead of the game right now,” he said. “I'm just going to keep my composure, stay ready and come weigh-in, eat, get a nice meal and be ready to fight.”
Now 32 years old, Vera turned professional a decade ago and won his first 14 bouts before a TKO loss to Jaidon Codrington on ESPN's “The Contender” TV show began a stretch of six losses in 11 fights.
He rallied with four wins in 2012 and 2013, including defeats of former world 154-pound champions Sergio Mora (MD 12) and Serhiy Dzinziruk (TKO 10), before the scores against Chavez turned what appeared to be a momentum-sustaining performance into a 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94 defeat.
Like many, no matter how many times he watches the latter fight's replay, he still sees a win.
“Every time I watch it, I try to look for ways they could have given him the fight,” Vera said. “And it's not like I'm just looking at myself. I'm put it on low volume and look at it, and I just simply outworked him and landed the cleaner shots. He landed a couple good shots that the crowd sort of got crazy about, but at the time I stayed busy. I felt like I beat him seven out of 10 rounds.”
Ringside punch stats indicated Vera threw more shots than Chavez in each of the 10 rounds and out-landed his foe in eight of the 10, while Chavez landed more punches only in the sixth and connected with the same amount in the first. Overall, Vera threw 406 more punches and landed 157 more.
A similar output is the game plan for this weekend, too, he said, insisting that it's the only method he's got to beat a sturdy fighter like Chavez, whom he sees as impenetrable with one shot at a time.
“You've got to him with a brick to hurt him,” he said. “You're not going to knock him out with one punch. You're going to have to break him down, and that's what I plan on doing. I've got some more to hand to him. I got some more whipping to give him, for sure.
“Come Saturday, when I whip his ass, they're going to have to respect me somehow.”
Weekend Watch List 2/28-3/1
ESPN -- Friday, 9 p.m. ET
“Boxcino” tournament quarterfinals -- four six-round bouts, middleweights
SHOWTIME -- Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET
(Card will air after All Access: Canelo vs. Angulo, Episode 1)
J'Leon Love vs. Vladine Biosse -- 10 rounds, super middleweights
Badou Jack vs. Derreck Edwards -- 10 rounds, super middleweights
Chris Pearson vs. Lanardo Tyner -- eight rounds, middleweights
HBO -- Saturday, 9:45 p.m. ET
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Bryan Vera -- 12 rounds, super middleweights
Orlando Salido vs. Vasyl Lomachenko -- WBO featherweight title