Julio Cesar Chavez

Julio Cesar Chavez
Date of Birth:July 12, 1962
Place of Birth:Obregon, Senora, Mexico
Gym:  Azteca Boxing Club (trained at), JC Chavez Boxing Studio (owns)
Location: Mexico City
Manager: Ramon Felix
Trainer: Cristobal Rosas, Emanuel Steward 
Boxing Career: Amateur, Professional
Nicknames: J C Superstar, El Cesar del Boxeo (The Caesar of Boxing), El Gran Campeon Mexican (The Great Mexican Champion), Mr KO, El Leon de Culiacan (The Lion of Culiacan) 
Height: 5 Ft 7 1/2 inches. 171cm
Reach:  66 1/2inches. 169cm
Weight Class:Super featherweight, Lightweight, Light Welterweight, Welterweight
Professional Record: Total Fights: 115, Wins: 107, Wins by KO: 86, Losses: 6, Draws 2
Notable Fights:Julio Cesar Chavez vs Meldrick Taylor, Julio Cesar Chavez vs Hector Camacho, Julio Cesar Chavez vs Pernell Whitaker, Julio Cesar Chavez vs Oscar De la Hoya

Julio Cesar Chavez: Overview 

Julio Cesar Chavez was a Mexican professional boxer who competed in a dominant fashion over 25 years from 1980 to 2005, during which time he ruled at 3 different weights. Indeed the Ring voted Julio Cesar Chavez ‘pound for pound’ the best fighter in the world from 1990 to 1993.

Julio Cesar Chavez: Early Life and Amateur Career

Julio Cesar Chavez was born into a poor family on the 12th July 1962 in Ciudad Obregon, Sonara, Mexico. The son of Rodolfo Chavez, who worked for the railroad, Julio along with his four brothers and five sisters grew up in an abandoned railroad car. Chavez made no bones about his reason for becoming a boxer stating

“I saw my mom working, ironing, and washing people’s clothes, and I promised her I would give her a house someday, and she would never have that job again.”

Initially introduced to boxing by his older brothers Julio Cesar Chavez began officially boxing as an amateur* at the age of 16 before moving to Tijuana to pursue his professional career.

*Nb little is reported about Julio Cesar Chavez’s amateur career though Box Rec cites it as purportedly 14-1.

Julio Cesar Chavez: The Professional

Julio Cesar Chavez began his professional career with an interesting bout. Aged 17, Chavez knocked out Miguel Ruiz with the last punch of the first round, a blow which coincided with the ringing of the bell and ultimately ended in Julio Cesar Chavez’s disqualification. Mexico is Mexico however and when Ramon Felix the next day consulted the boxing commission the result was overturned and Chávez declared the winner.

Super Featherweight (1984-1987)

Julio Cesar Chavez won his first championship (WBC) at Super featherweight on the 13th Sept 1984 via knock out of fellow Mexican, Mario ‘Azabache’ Martinez by TKO in round 8. This would take Chavez’s record to 44 and 0. Thereafter, Julio Cesar Chavez would go on to succesfully defend his title 9 times. Amongst other knocking out Ruben Castillo (63-4-2) in round 6 before knocking out ‘ring technician’ and former and future world champion Roger Mayweather on the 7th July 1985 in only round 2.

Further notable victories occurred in 1986 with victories over former champions Rocky Lockridge and Juan Laporte. Whilst Julio Cesar Chavez ended his reign at Super featherweight by defeating number one ranked challenger Francisco Tomas Da Cruz and Danilo Cabrera in April and August of 1987 respectively. 

Lightweight (1987-1989)

Thereafter, amongst much debate as to whether Julio Cesar Chavez could handle the higher weight Chavez moved up to lightweight and on the 21st November 1987 gained considerable recognition in facing respected WBA Champion Edwin Rosario. Chavez illustrating how much the fight meant to him with the words ‘Everything I’ve accomplished as champion, and the nine title defences, would be thrown away with a loss to Rosario’.

Rosario taking a slightly different approach by threatening to send Julio Cesar Chavez ‘back to Mexico in a coffin’ and thereby nearly provoking a pre-fight brawl – which at the time was not nearly as common as today and genuine! In what has been called a career defining performance Julio Cesar Chavez won by TKO in the eleventh round. Indeed Sports Illustrated felt it was a performance of such gravity that it ran a headline 

“Time To Hail César: WBA Lightweight Champion César Chávez of Mexico may be the world’s best fighter.”

Julio Cesar Chavez would again make some notable defences at this new weight; knocking out number one ranked contender Rodolfo Aguilar (20–0–1) by 6th round TKO in April 1988; defeating former two time Champion Rafeal Limon in June of the same year with a similarly TKO in round 7; before unifying the WBA and WBC belts with a unanimous technical decision* over Jose Luis Ramirez

*UTD was awarded after the fight was stopped due to a an accidental clash of heads in round 11 

Julio Cesar Chavez also awarded The Ring Lightweight title after the victory. 

Light/Welterweight (1989-2005)

Julio Cesar Chavez would vacate his Lightweight titles in order to move up to the Light welterweight division, where in his first fight on the 13th May 1989 Chavez would stop old foe Roger Mayweather ‘on his stool’ in the 10th round to capture the WBC title. 

It was at Light welterweight that Julio Cesar Chavez’s greatest fights and performances would occur:

Julio Cesar Chavez vs Meldrick Taylor

After winning some initially impressive defences with victories over Sammy Fuentes by 10th round TKO as well as the previously undefeated Alberto Mercedes Cortes (44-0) with a third round knockout, Julio Cesar Chavez would take his own unblemished (68-0) record into a ‘super fight’ with the prodigiously talented and also undefeated IBF champion Meldrick Taylor.

An excellent but extremely contentious fight took place on the 17th March 1990. Julio Cesar Chavez more than lucky to come out of the fight with a victory and his record intact; for Meldrick Taylor had largely dominated rounds one through eight and whilst Chavez rallied in the last four rounds he was still heavily behind going into the 12th and final round. Here the controversy occurred; with only 30 seconds of the fight left Julio Cesar Chavez hurt the former Olympic gold medallist badly with a hard straight right before knocking him down shortly after. Taylor would rise at the count of 6 but referee Richard Steele said Taylor refused to answer his mandatory 8 count questions coherently before waiving the fight off with only two seconds left! 

Julio Cesar Chavez vs Meldrick Taylor – aftermath.

Most fans, media and members of the boxing community alike were absolutely outraged that the fight was stopped in such circumstances. There was a feeling Julio Cesar Chavez had been afforded the opportunity to keep his unblemished record and his all-conquering ‘superstar’ status.

Richard Steele for his part defended his decision by stating it was his job to protect a fighter regardless of how long was left in the fight and that he was not ‘the timekeeper’. Taylor (to Steele’s mind) may have appeared defenceless but few felt he couldn’t have lasted two seconds more and was very hard done by. This ultimatley one of the true tragic decisions in boxing history. The Ring nevertheless named it fight of the year for the 1990’s and later fight of the decade

Some fantastic highlights of the fight can be seen below and from which you can also make up your own mind as to if it was the correct decision or not! 

Many hoped for an immediate rematch but this did not occur until 1994 when Julio Cesar Chavez knocked out a ‘ring worn’ Meldrick Taylor in the eighth round.

After unifying the titles, Julio Cesar Chavez would engage in a busy series of title defences and non-title fights. A period which would see him vacate the IBF junior-welterweight title yet hold the WBC title for seven years before losing it in on the 7th June, 1996 when he was knocked out in the 4th  round by Oscar De La Hoya.

Other notable fights and defences

Julio Cesar Chavez vs Hector ‘Macho’ Camacho

On the 12th  September 1992, Julio Cesar Chavez fought WBO Light Welterweight Champion, Hector Camcho  (41-1-0, 18 KOs). It was a fight however that would not live up to its eagerly awaited anticipation. But for Julio Cesar Chavez that was for all the right reasons as he put on a simply dominating performance. This was reflected in the judges’ scorecards who scored it 117–111, 119-110 and 120-107 for Chávez. Mexico’s President Carlos Salinas de Gortari similarly impressed – sending a car specially reserved for the pope for Julio Cesar Chavez re-arrival in Mexico in order to bring him to the President’s House! 

Julio Cesar Chavez vs Greg Haugen

This was bout that took place on the 2nd of February, 1993 and was more renowned for its fighting talk than actual fighting in the ring. Haugen deriding Julio Cesar Chavez’s 82 unbeaten record by stating it consisted mostly of “Tijuana taxi drivers that my mother could have knocked out” further insulting the entire nation of Mexico by insisting “There aren’t 130,000 Mexicans who can afford tickets”. Held at the Estadio Azteca he would be forced to eat his words when a world record 136,274 fans showed up and Chavez let his fists do the talking in stopping Haugen by TKO in only round 5.

Julio Cesar Chavez vs Pernell ‘Sweet Pea’ Whitaker 

After completing 18 consecutive defences of his light welterweight title, Julio Cesar Chavez (87–0) moved up slightly in division to challenge Pernell Whitaker (32–1) for his WBC Welterweight title on the 10th September, 1993. Julio Cesar Chavez had stated several times since the late 1980s that he wanted to fight Pernell but a wily Lou Duva and the Whitaker team had declared they were not interested. The view of many boxing experts was; Whitaker was waiting for Julio Cesar Chavez to age. The result of the fight (a majority draw) in this writers opinion was what could be described as ‘good boxing business’: for it allowed Chavez to remain undefeated yet allowed Whitaker to retain his title.

The boxing world once again in agreement Julio Cesar Chavez had gotten away with an unjust decision. Indeed Sports Illustrated put Pernell Whitaker on the cover of its next magazine with the one word title, “Robbed!”

Respected boxing authorities all scored it for Whitaker by large to very large margins:

  • Unofficial Washington Post scorecard: 115-113 Whitaker
  • Unofficial Associated Press scorecard: 116-112 Whitaker
  • Unofficial Newsday scorecard: 116-112 Whitaker
  • Unofficial Ring Magazine scorecard: 117-111 Whitaker
  • Unofficial Sports Illustrated scorecard: 117-111 Whitaker

Lou Duva was even cited as saying after the bout that ‘a number of WBC officials approached him with strange expressions of condolence’. “They said to me, ‘What are you complaining about? This is the perfect result. Everyone wins,'” Going on to say “That’s just sickening. On the day of the fight everyone who knows me knows that I had one fear: that Pernell would get robbed. That these people, for their own political interest, would deny him his victory.”

Julio Cesar Chavez had a different view claiming “I felt I was forcing the fight … he just kept holding me too much, he was throwing too many low blows too”. 

Tellingly perhaps, there would be no rematch.

First Professional loss and later Career

Julio Cesar Chavez would fight and win twice more before suffering both the first knockdown of his career and the first loss of his career in one of the biggest upsets in annals of boxing history. On the 29th of January 1994 Chavez would fight and lose his title to Frankie Randall by split decision. Richard Steele, would once again be central to the controversy, though this time his decisons would not favour Julio Cesar Chavez from whom he deducted two points and which made the difference on the scorecards.

Julio Cesar Chavez was incensed, the WBC ordered an immediate rematch and in May 1994 Julio Cesar Chavez regained his title. The fight however was again mired in controversy. Fiercely contested an accidental clash of heads in round 7 saw a large cut open over Chavez’s eyebrow, the ring doctor was called and stopped the fight. Under WBC rules, Randall lost one point, which gave Julio Cesar Chávez the technical victory! 

*The two faced one another in a rubber match 10 years later, which Chávez won by unanimous decision. 

Julio Cesar Chavez would fight and win 6 more times (including the aforementioned re-match with Meldrick Taylor which saw Chavez KO Taylor with shot so powerful it sent him from one side of the ring to the other) prior to his first fight with the ‘Golden Boy’ Oscar De Lay Hoya. 

Julio Cesar Chavez vs Oscar de La Hoya

On the 7th June, 1996, Julio Cesar Chavez would face Oscar De La Hoya in a fight which would not live up to expectation. A large gash opened over Chávez’s left eye in only the first minute of the first round, leading many to speculate what Chávez later confirmed – the cut had occurred earlier in training and was re-opened in the bout.

Heavy blood flowed and prompted the doctor to stop the fight in the fourth round. Julio Cesar Chavez would lose yet always maintain until their rematch in 1998 for the Welterweight championship (where De La Hoya forced him to retire in round 8) that De La Hoya had never actually defeated him in their first fight and it was the cut that he suffered in training which had done so!

Julio Cesar Chavez – The twilight of his career

Julio Cesar Chavez nevertheless won his next bout in October 1996 against former champion Joey Gamache for a remarkable 100th win and an astonishing record of 97-2-1. Julio Cesar Chavez continuing to fight and retiring only after his loss to Grover Wiley on September 17th 2005. His time in between consisting of a very respectable 11 wins, 1 draw, and 3 loses – one of which was against Oscar De La Hoya and another against one talented young fighter, Kostya Tszyu! Ultimately ending with a largely un-paralleled record of 107 wins (86 KO’s) – 6 losses and 2 draws.

Personal Life and Retirement.

It is little known that during the latter part of Julio Cesar Chavez’s career he struggled with both drug addiction and alcohol abuse. Indeed by his own admission he started drinking the night after his fight against Edwin Rosario. Later developing a cocaine habit which he beat after undergoing rehab several times. Thereafter, nobly fighting in multiple exhibition bouts for charitable causes, a sign of the man’s character in and out of the ring and how widely he is respected. 

A rather nice ensemble of Julio Cesar Chavez’s all round boxing ability and career can be seen in the following highlights reel.

Julio Cesar Chavez: The Legend

Julio Cesar Chavez may not have had the flamboyant fighting style associated with many of the world’s greatest boxers but there is no doubt he was one, if not, the greatest ‘warrior’ of them. His accolades and record(s) speak for themselves. 

  • Julio Cesar Chavez holds the record for the most successful defences of his title (27)
  • Julio Cesar Chavez holds the record for the most successful title fights (37)
  • Julio Cesar Chavez holds the record for the most successful title fight victories (31)
  • Julio Cesar Chavez is second behind Jouis Louis (23) for the most title defences won by KO (21)
  • Julio Cesar Chavez was voted BWAA and the ‘The Ring’ fighter of the year for 1987 and 1990 respectively.
  • ‘The Ring’ ranked Julio Cesar Chavez 50 on its “100 greatest punches all time”.
  • ‘The Ring’ ranked Julio Cesar Chavez the 18th greatest fighter of the past 80 years.

Additionally, Mike Tyson, declared Julio Cesar Chavez ‘one of the greatest fighters of his generation and top five of all time’ from his point of view. Whilst trainer Angelo Dundee said that Chávez had one of the strongest chins in boxing history. 

Julio Cesar Chavez was inducted into the International Boxing Home of Fame on the 7th December 2010.

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