On the West Side of the city on the outskirts of Fort Worth in White Settlement, a gym has begun to open eyes. Under the leadership of Casey Gutierrez and head trainer Raymond Barrera, coaches Richard Esparza and Samuel Diaz, they have built a stable of strong professional fighters that include Jarvis Shepard, Jesse Angel Hernandez, Marchristopher Adkins, and the world ranked John Vera Jr.
The time for long armed southpaw John Vera Jr to take the bull by the horns is now. John known as “THE PHENOM” was born in Fort Worth in 1988, started boxing at the age of 11 in 1999. Vera did not have an extensive amateur career as he only had about 50 bouts but he is progressing in the pro ranks like a phenom moniker he has staked claim to. While some think a short career in the amateurs might hinder most fighters it is has proven to be only a pebble on the road to success that John has traveled thus far. His amateur accolades include two regional Golden glove championships and one National Black Gloves championship, so the talent has been there. The big league of boxing is a different beast that has taken some of the best amateurs into the deep waters and not always ended well. John at this point is looking like a young Michael Phelps in the fight game as he has built up a (16-0, 10ko) record against some stout competition.
It started early in 2012 on a Paulie Ayala Promotions show against Cedric Sheppard in a technical knockout win, that’s where I got my first look at young John Vera. Vera would fight his first three pro fights here at home before packing his bags and heading around Texas from to El Paso, to Pharr and Irving. This has been a bit of his calling card fighting fights in Arkansas, Iowa, Nevada, and this weekend for second straight fight in Arizona. It has been a tough road for the pro fighter as he had not had a promotional company for 12 of his 16 fights.Roy Jones Jr Boxing Promotions saw the potential that has been bubbling under the national level of pro boxing and scooped up the young Phenom after a TKO win against trail horse and measuring stick Ayi Bruce (23-12, 15ko).
This opened the door to main event fights against Joey Ruelas (10-1-1, 4ko) a former US Olympic alternate, where he picked up the vacant WBA-NABA USA Super Welterweight title and a word ranking. In a quick turnaround, which is rarely seen nowadays at the top level, he was pitted against Milorad Zizic (12-1, 6ko) a former IBF Youth Middleweight champion to defend his belt and world ranking. That fight was back and forth with both fighters showing grit and stamina in a tough fight that ended in a television friendly knockout on CBS SPORTS NETWORK, not only showcasing John to boxing fans but staking his claim as a world title contender. Yet he wasn’t done, he sacrificed his Christmas and New Years to prepare for a show down with former world title challenger Salim Larbi (20-6-2, 7ko). This fight proved to be his toughest fight of John Vera Jr’s career as Larbi came to take a huge step back into the world rankings and fought tooth and nail to try and take the undefeated record from the young defending champ. Pushed to his limit for the night the Fort Worth native dug down and pulled out the victory via split decision victory after 4 straight previous knockouts. This may prove to be a blessing in disguise as he moves on to the next tough task.
That bring us to July 15, 2017 LIVE ON FACEBOOK (a new outlet we should expect to see more in the boxing game) as he will face Daniel Rosario Cruz (11-2,10ko) where he will defend his Title for a third time and his #7 WBO & #14 WBA world rankings on the line.
While the finish line is visible Saturday it is only for one night. The “bigger race” is the ultimate goal, as it is for any fighter, a world championship opportunity. Before he can get there he has to win on Saturday against a tough Puerto Rican. His opponent Daniel Cruz is a hard-hitting knockout artist who is also fighting the biggest fight of his career with his own back story, and his own and goals. Who will triumph in the face of adversity in the ring? Well, this is why they lace them up and the reason why we watch boxing. John Vera Jr has already established himself as a legit prospect and contender by fighting on the road, playing the role and by taking chances in and out of the ring. This is his fourth defense of his WBA-NABA USA Super middleweight title. Saturday all his hard work will pay off in 10 rounds of less as the Main Event at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino in Chandler AZ.
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Written by Roberto Montano