March 27th, 2014 By Pedro Fernandez
ONE SCARY NIGHT IN NORTH LAS VEGAS
DON’T SAY CHAVEZ HAD ONE LOSS COVERED UP!
After conversing in broken Spanglish, I bought a couple of guys a beer as we discussed Julio Cesar Chavez, the so-called greatest Mexican fighter in history. Going through the Chavez resume, which at the time stood at 68 & ZIP was easy. But there was the fight in JC’s hometown of Culican, Mexico, a city controlled by Coke traffickers in which Chavez was disqualified and I’m told and the commission is said to have changed the result the next day. Remembering that puddle of blood at the bar’s entrance, I let my hosts tell Chavez history in their own way before backing out of the joint.
TYSON HAD JUST BEEN BEATEN BY BUSTER
In March 1990, the boxing world was still reeling over the meltdown of “Iron Mike” Tyson by Buster Douglas the month prior, when they converged on Las Vegas to view what a lot of pundits perceived as a fight between the two best “pound for pound” fighters in the world. The 12-round HBO main event that night saw Taylor utilize his hand and foot speed advantage to have won about eight rounds going into the 12th and final stanza. Even though Taylor appeared to have a comfortable lead, trainer Lou Duva told Meldrick he needed the final three minute session of battle to win.
DUVA BEARS MOST OF THE BLAME
In the space of less than four minutes, Duva, then a vocal cornerman who was more flash than substance when it came to actually training fighters. Lou Duva would commit two gaffs that turned out to be fateful ones for Meldrick. In a fight that mirrored a race between the rabbit and a turtle, Meldrick was winning the race, but that damn turtle Chavez was still in the rear view mirror. Following Duva’s ill advised directions, Taylor came out and was bringing it to Chavez until one right hand with about 12 seconds left in the fight shook the Philadelphia kid and good.
THE TURTLE FINALLY CATCHES THE RABBIT!
Julio followed up with another right hand and Meldrick went down in the corner, a mere nine rows from where I sat. With referee Richard Steele tolling the count, Duva got up on the ring apron and was causing a bit of a disturbance. The referee Steele was counting and looking right at Taylor. When he asked Taylor if he was all right, this with six seconds or so left in the fight, Meldrick failed to acknowledge the referee twice in succession.
TAYLOR TOOK EYE OFF THE BALL (REF)
It turns out Taylor was looking at this bigger than life cornerman Duva and not paying attention to the referee. At that point and time, Steele stopped the fight and Chavez, almost certainly a loser when the round started, was now the undisputed 140 lb. world champion.
NIGHT LOU DUVA MUCKED UP!
Taylor never recovered from the beating and the emotional letdown that spelled the end for the 1984 Olympic Gold medalist. Chavez would go on to make tens of millions of dollars, lose to Frankie Randall, from whom the WBC stole it back from him with a Technical Decision. Today both Chavez and Taylor are broke. Meldrick is said to be back in Philly, while Chavez follows his coddled kid, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., around as he fights circa 168 lbs.
STEELE STILL DRAWS CRITICISM OVER STOP
In closing, Richard Steele got a lot of heat for stopping this fight. But having been there live and seeing the actions of Lou Duva, which distracted Taylor at a time in which he could ill afford to be, referee Richard Steele had no choice but to call the fight!