Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 | 11:20 a.m.
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Boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was fined $900,000 on Thursday by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for a positive marijuana test following his fight last September against Sergio Martinez at the Thomas & Mack Center.
During its meeting at the Cashman Center in downtown Las Vegas, the commission also ruled that Chavez, who was defeated by unanimous decision for his first professional loss in the middleweight title fight, serve a nine-month suspension. The fine is 30 percent of his $3 million purse.
It was the second time Chavez has been disciplined by the commission over a failed drug test, creating much debate among the five commissioners about how to handle his case. They voted 3-2 on the punishments, with commissioners T.J. Day and Skip Avansino not approving the motion.
In 2009, when Chavez tested positive for a diuretic, he was fined $10,000 (10 percent of his purse) and suspended seven months.
The commission has given more significant punishments for second offenses to other fighters.
“We are still moving around the board here,” considering past penalties for other fighters,Day said.
Chavez told the commission he used marijuana eight or nine days before the fight on the recommendation of a friend in Los Angeles to relieve the stress from having to fight four times in 2012.
“I know I let a lot of people down. It was a big mistake. It hasn’t been easy for me,” Chavez, who participated in the meeting on a conference call from his native Mexico, said through a translator.
Don Campbell, his local attorney, asked the commission for leniency, saying the fighter used the drug for medical reasons and it was a small dosage. In California, where he used the drug, it isn’t a crime for medical reasons, Campbell said.
Following the meeting, Campbell labeled the fine as excessive. It could be challenged, but Campbell said, that decision would have to be made by Chavez.
“There is absolutely a legal remedy to challenge this,” Campbell said.
Chavez, who is promoted by Top Rank Promotions, isn’t expected to return to the ring until Sept. 15. Top Rank President Bob Arum was in Mexico with Chavez for the hearing. Chavez will also have to provide a clean drug test sample with the commission before reapplying.
Chavez (46-1-1) was initially scheduled to have his hearing in January, but commissioners agreed to delay it because his visa expired and he was unable to travel to meet in person with Campbell.