March 27th, 2014 By Pedro Fernandez


Chavez-Taylor I

Chavez-Taylor I

San Francisco, CA- Having found there to be a shortage of Mexicans the night prior to Julio Cesar Chavez-Meldrick Taylor I, I ventured to North Las Vegas for Chavez fans on Friday night March 16, 1990. Even though this match was sold out, the fact there wasn’t a Chavez following in the lobby of the host hotel, the Las Vegas Hilton, was to me unusual. The trip to North Las Vegas was one that I’ll always remember. Upon entering this bar the cabby dropped me off at, I noticed fresh blood just outside the front door.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

Pedro Fernandez


  1. GOOD article, GREAT fight, BAD refereeing

    La Migra on March 23rd, 2010 at 2:42 AM
  2. Nice article Pedro!

    RIO001 on March 23rd, 2010 at 6:00 AM
  3. Now that I got out the typos, thanks Rio001

    Pedro Fernandez on March 23rd, 2010 at 7:52 AM
  4. Steele was in a no-win situation here. Taylor was hurt and unresponsive so Steele had to stop the fight. Not his job to watch clocks it’s his job to protect the fighter from himself. Had Chavez landed one last shot it might’ve killed or permanently damaged Taylor and then everyone would blame Steele for it.

    The Truth on March 23rd, 2010 at 12:26 PM
  5. This was a great fight, Taylor’s hand speed in this fight makes manny and floyd look slow by comparison. hands down one of the fastest fighters I’ve ever seen. I’m convinced chavez was one of the very few great fighters on the planet that could have came back from receiving tons of punches that night to stop a great,prime meldrick taylor like that. this will always be a classic! great article pedro…

    Boxingdude on March 23rd, 2010 at 12:41 PM
  6. Great retrospective, Mr. Fernández.

    José-Ariel Cuevas on March 23rd, 2010 at 1:23 PM
  7. Weak article on a fight that desrved more!

    SuperNovaHype job on March 23rd, 2010 at 3:34 PM
  8. Great insights Pedro. I always thought Steele was in on the take. Nice to see a different point of view. Taylor had the fight won, got bad advice in slugging with Chavez in round 12…


    Uppercut on March 23rd, 2010 at 11:48 PM
  9. The fight would have been a split decision, believe it or not, if it hadn’t been stopped. Scoring at the time of the stoppage was Dave Moreti 107-102 and Jerry Roth 108-101 for Taylor. Chuck Giampa had Chavez ahead 105 to 104.

    Chuck was saved from some real scrutiny.

    Mickey on March 24th, 2010 at 7:24 AM
  10. Nice article…I agree with everything said.

    Rick on March 31st, 2010 at 3:56 AM
  11. Nice read…it was a great fight…For the longest time I felt Meldrick was robbed of a hard fought win. I can’t argue with what you said though. After seeing a documentary on the fight a while ago, it is apparant that Duva distracted and caught Taylor’s attention during the moment that swayed the outcome 180 degrees! Can’t believe this was 24 years ago…time flies!

    1200 Techs on March 27th, 2014 at 9:51 PM
  12. Pete,
    How bad off is Meldrick regarding his health more specifically, an idea? Any latest pictures of him as of late? That was a tuff tuff fight.

    Not Dundee on March 28th, 2014 at 8:36 PM
  13. Talk about a 180, Could Taylor have made it to the end of the round? Yes. But that’s not Steel’s job to factor that in. Even he said so. Taylor was hurt distraction or not.

    Uppercut on March 30th, 2014 at 7:11 PM
  14. My ’85 Ring Record Book lists his bout on 4/3/81 as a loss, so it wasn’t reversed right away. Somebody got paid off later to “reverse it”.

    Uppercut on March 30th, 2014 at 7:22 PM
  15. I don’t like Chavez but he did deserve this win, especially if this had been a true championship fight and not simply a 12 round deal. Had this been a 15 rounder Taylor would have folded in the 13th easily and for that matter Middleweight Hagler would have beaten Leonard….and the list goes on.

    Rob Hernandez on March 31st, 2014 at 6:04 AM

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