Friday, February 27, 2015

AN EVENING HONORING GERALD McCLELLAN






AN EVENING HONORING GERALD McCLELLAN

February 26th, 2015.
On February 25, 1995, Gerald McClellan and Nigel Benn waged one of boxing’s most memorable, dramatic and tragic fights, at the New London Arena in London, England- it forever changed both mens’ lives.
Stopped in the 10th round after a titanic battle, Gerald suffered a blood clot on the brain, which required extensive surgery and he was left permanently affected due to this severe injury.
Twenty years later, the former world middleweight champion, now aged 47, remains under the 24-hour a day care of his devoted Sister Lisa- Truly Great Champions run in the McClelland Family! Gerald is blind, cannot walk without assistance, and he has suffered with a colon ailment related to his nervous system, which was permanently affected by his final boxing match.
“It’s at a plateau,” Lisa McClellan said of her brother’s health conditon, during a recent interview. “It’s not got any better but it’s not got any worse. He’s maintaining good health. He feeds himself and bathes himself. He talks on the phone when people call. He loves visitors and company.”
McClellan also remembers his boxing career, with the exception of the Benn fight, though a reunion with Benn in England in 2007 did provide some closure for the two warriors.
And while it’s an anniversary that is both bitter and sweet, on Saturday, March 28, Lisa McClellan will present “An Evening Honoring the G-Man” at the Masonic Temple Ballroom in Freeport, Illinois, with proceeds going to help with Gerald’s medical bills, medication, and the costs of the event.
Several boxing luminaries are expected to be in attendance. There will also be dinner, dancing, a live band and a silent auction of boxing memorabilia. The Masonic Temple is located at 305-315 Stephenson Street in Freeport, Illinois.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the event and to aid Gerald at: http://www.gofundme.com/n4hjic
Tickets, priced at $100, may also be purchased through this page. Please note that you are purchasing an event ticket when you make your donation.
For more information, contact Lisa McClellan at lmcclellan33@aol.com
Tax-deductible contributions to the Gerald McClellan Trust Fund and ticket purchases can also be made by sending a check or money order (made out to the Gerald McClellan Trust) to:
Gerald McClellan Trust
839 East Wyandotte Street
Freeport, IL 61032

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Floyd VS Manny- Pennies from Heaven




By James Blears

The richest boxing match in history has finally transformed from a tantalizing prospect into a done deal, and now WBC welterweight and super welterweight Champion Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, both of whom have seen better days, must rise to the occasion with ring performances to befit the humongous amounts of money involved.

No one knows exactly knows how much cash this mega fight will generate. The money bags record up to now was 2.7 million PPV buys for the Floyd Vs Oscar De La Hoya bout of fever, on May 5th 2007.  Depending on the amount of money a given household will be asked to cough up, I’d be willing to venture we could see double that amount for this one.  

Many if not most boxing connoisseurs will tell you that this fight would have been much more of a spectacular five years ago, as both Floyd and Manny are now obviously past their primes.  Manny is 36 years old, and this coming Tuesday, Floyd will celebrate his thirty eighth birthday.

At the WBC Convention in Las Vegas, last December, the great Marvelous Marvin Hagler chuckled at the question, nodded his head in agreement and then prophetically quipped: “And they’ll still find a way to put it together and make a lot of money!”  And so, it has come to pass.

Manny’s marketability took a temporary nosedive and so did he, when he was blasted into unconsciousness by a devastating right hook counter by a hurt, bleeding, but still clear headed cunning and calculating Juan Manuel Marquez in the sixth round at the MGM Grand on December 8th 2012. Since then Manny has posted a couple of handy wins, but he’s now evidently a boxer puncher, having lost or discarded his mantle of whirlwind destroyer. It remains to be seen if that thunderbolt from “Dinamita” has had any lingering effect.

Styles makes fights and styles differ as much as opinions.  But Floyd had no such problem with Juan Manuel Marquez when they fought,  also at the MGM Grand on September 19th 2009.  Floyd astutely used his naturally larger size and paid for extra weight, plus his multiple skills thrown in,  to knock Juan Manuel down hard in the second round and completely dominate him for the full twelve rounds.

Welterweight is Floyd’s natural size. This is not the case with Manny who was considerably more effective as a featherweight.

Manny has suffered five defeats in his career including three KO’s. Floyd has never been knocked off his feet or beaten. He’s  used his brilliant defensive skills to ward off the most ferocious attacks and avoid heavy punishment. Yet he doesn’t appear as mobile as he once was.  Has advancing age sapped a residue of  zip from his legs?

As Floyd himself says, this is the only job he’s ever had or known. His Father Floyd Sr once fought Sugar Ray Leonard, while his Uncles Jeff and Roger were also fighters. Roger, who’s Floyd’s main Trainer, won two World Championships.

Floyd insists he’s TBE- the best ever. This upcoming fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, will either reinforce that claim or dismiss it.

Floyd is great, but he’s still a mortal…if not a mere mortal.  He won a unanimous decison and the WBC lightweight Crown against Mexico’s bruising, rough, tough Jose Luis Castillo on April 20th 2002, but it wasn’t plain sailing.  Between weigh in and opening bell Jose Luis bulked up to a solid 147 pounds. While Floyd was hovering around the 138 and a half mark. A slow starter, as the fight wore on Jose Luis managed to back Floyd on to the ropes and belt his body with some fearsome welts.

Eight months later on December 7th, Floyd, who was suffering from an injury to his left shoulder during fight one, insured the rematch was a comprehensive shutout. The UD was the same, but this time Floyd won by a country mile! Another routine day at the office.

Sugar Shane Mosley also dented Floyd’s invincibility albeit momentarily. On May 1st 2010, In the second round, with Mosley’s WBA super welterweight title up for grabs, Shane caught Floyd with two flush fire and  almost perfectly timed right hooks.  The great one momentarily wobbled.  But as the baying crowd rose to its feet in lusting anticipation, Floyd who has a granite chin, weathered the brief cloudburst,  danced out of harm’s way and returned the compliments with a hail of raining and reigning venom.

It was a window of opportunity which momentarily opened with an unexpected gust, but then closed with a slam of gusto, to never re-open.  Shane’s draught plan failed.  So, yet another resulting UD for Floyd, who even today isn’t fully comfortable in the super welter ranks.

Executives at two rival networks are breathing mighty greenbacks sighs of relief and readily agreeing to work together, at least for a lucrative short while.  They’re rubbing their paws in glee,  at the prospect of all this honey, but then they go into an instantaneous grumpy hibernation huddle of obstinacy,  if anyone has the impudent temerity to breathe a single word about a possible rematch?!  So I’m going to do it anyway!

For Floyd’s last KO, we have to delve back to September 17th 2011, when he gave the headbutting Victor Ortiz, who forgot boxing’s Golden Rule of defending yourself at all times,  a quick thinking, but perfectly legal one two corrective cuffing. Young Victor has been vanquished after a trip of dread  to the woodshed!

We have to gaze back even further for Manny, who stopped a brave but severely battered Miguel Cotto in the final round on November 14th 2009. Neither still possess the conclusive KO power they once uniformly relied upon.    

This is a defining and historic fight, not just concerning bank balances. It’s for the accolade of pound for pound Emperor.

I feel that Floyd and Manny are going to define themselves with memorably brilliant swansong performances.

Manny’s only realistic chance is to cut down the distance to signet ring distance, back Floyd on to the ropes, attack the body and continue swarming throughout, in “Short” order,  to remove Floyd from his maestro boxing tutorial comfort zone.

On the other hand, or both…. because Floyd is ambidextrously accomplished even against a southpaw, my “Money” is on a tight defense, intelligent use of a longer left jab, some hurtful spiteful and purposeful combinations to check ongoing surges, which might not be as instinctively fearless in the post Marquez era. Plus wonderful ringcraft from a boxer who deserves to be ranked as a Field Marshall, rather than a General.

I think the fight is going to be a veritable, versatile thriller, and with so much at stake, we’re inevitably going to see pure drama at some point in these expensive thirty six minutes.

I also think that the fight is going to be close and that WILL merit a money spinning rematch, with more fretting, bickering, bitten nails and sleepless nights for the Machiavellian negotiators, money brokers and ambitious network moguls.

And talking of protecting themselves at all times, hopefully Floyd and Manny will have the common sense to employ a smart bunch of brainy accountants to carefully deal with their tax liens.

It’d be prudent to remember that the blow you don’t see coming KO’s you!  While both are training away, they’d be wise to have George Harrison’s Taxman blaring out of the gym loudspeakers.  Remember the line about pennies on the eyes?







Friday, February 20, 2015

Get Ready for Mayweather vs Pacquiao May 2

Floyd Mayweather Announces the Fight May 2 Against Manny Pacquiao



 
 
THE FIGHT IS ON!
 
Floyd Mayweather Formally Announces Mayweather vs. Pacquiao
 
Renowned Fighters Agree To Meet in Welterweight World Championship Unification Bout on Saturday, May 2 * Live on Pay-Per-View
 
LAS VEGAS (Feb. 20, 2015) - Undefeated, 11-time world champion Floyd Mayweather formally announced today the most anticipated boxing match of this generation.  Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, a welterweight world championship unification bout, will take place on Saturday, May 2, live on pay-per-view. 
 
This event, which holds the promise of breaking every pay-per-view record in history, is being promoted by Mayweather Promotions and Top Rank Inc., and will be produced and distributed live by SHOWTIME PPV® and HBO Pay-Per-View®.        
 
"I am glad my decision to meet with Manny and discuss making this fight happen helped get the deal done," said Mayweather. "Giving the fans what they want to see is always my main focus. This will be the biggest event in the history of the sport. Boxing fans and sports fans around the world will witness greatness on May 2. I am the best ever, TBE, and this fight will be another opportunity to showcase my skills and do what I do best, which is win.  Manny is going to try to do what 47 before himfailed to do, but he won't be successful. He will be number 48."
 
 
For more information, follow on Twitter at @floydmayweather and @mayweatherpromo; become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FloydMayweather and www.facebook.com/MayweatherPromotions or go to www.mayweatherpromotions.com.
 

Mayweather vs Pacquiao signed for May 2

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame Announces 2015 Inductees









Boxing icons Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson
Headline Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame's Class of 2015


LAS VEGAS, NV (February 19, 2015) -- Legendary boxers Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson headline the 21-person 2015 Class of Inductees into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame. It is a star-studded cast which includes many of the finest boxers in the sport's history.

Rich Marotta, the Hall's founder and chief executive officer, made the announcement Thursday during a news conference at the Roy Jones Jr. Fight Academy in Las Vegas.

Honorees for the third class of Hall of Famers were chosen in four categories:  Nevada resident boxers; Non-Nevada resident boxers; Pioneers; and non-boxer participants.

Among the honorees are 11 men who have previously been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

The Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame induction dinner and ceremony will be held in Las Vegas in August at a site to be announced soon. Additional fan events will be held prior to and after the induction ceremony.

"We are very excited about our 2015 Class of Inductees," Marotta said. "They are among the most glamorous and significant names in boxing history, and all have unmistakable connections to Nevada. We plan to make our induction weekend in August the best ever."


Nevada-resident boxers (Three elected)

Roger "The Black Mamba" Mayweather – Mayweather is a former world champion at both super featherweight (130 pounds) and super lightweight (140 pounds) whose 41 fights in Nevada are an NVBHOF record. He scored notable wins in Nevada over Vinnie Pazienza, Livingstone Bramble and Harold Brazier. Mayweather ended his career with a 59-13 record and 35 knockouts. He was also 8-5 in major world title fights. After his fighting days ended, he went on to become one of the sport's elite trainers and currently trains out of the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas.

Eddie Mustafa Muhammad – Born Eddie Gregory, Muhammad reigned as light heavyweight champion from March 31, 1980, when he stopped Marvin Johnson in the 11th round, until July 18, 1981, when he lost a 15-round unanimous decision to Michael Spinks. He compiled a 50-8-1 record with 39 knockouts and met all of the great 175-pounders of his era. He is now a highly sought after trainer who works out of the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas.

Johnny "Mi Vida Loca" Tapia – Tapia won world titles at super flyweight, bantamweight and featherweight and was one of the most popular and exciting fighters of his time. Tapia, who struggled with drug addiction much of his life and died tragically at just 45 years of age in 2012, compiled a 59-5-2 record with 30 knockouts. Ring Magazine named his 1999 bout with Paulie Ayala in Las Vegas as its Fight of the Year. His life was chronicled in an HBO documentary simply called "Tapia"

Non-Nevada resident boxers (Seven elected)

Muhammad Ali – Without question the most famous boxer ever, Ali was the first man to regain the heavyweight title and the first and still only man to hold the linear heavyweight title on three occasions. He was 56-5 with 37 knockouts in his legendary career, which began in 1960 after he won a gold medal as a light heavyweight at the Rome Olympics. Ali fought seven times in Nevada, going 5-2. He lost to Leon Spinks in a stunning 15-round decision at the then-Las Vegas Hilton in 1978 and then was stopped by Larry Holmes in 1980. He defeated Floyd Patterson, Ron Lyle, Jerry Quarry, Bob Foster and Joe Bugner in Nevada. He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Sugar Ray Robinson – Widely regarded as the greatest fighter who ever lived, Robinson went 175-19-6 with 106 knockouts in a career that spanned 25 years. The Boxing Writers Association of America named its Fighter of the Year award after him. The Associated Press chose him as Boxer of the Century for the 20th century, as well as its best welterweight and best middleweight of the century. Robinson started his career 40-0 before a loss to Jake La Motta. He then proceeded to go 88-0-2 with a no contest in his next 91 bouts, giving him a stunning mark of 128-1-2. He fought in Nevada twice, losing to Gene Fullmer and Ferd Hernandez. He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Marvelous Marvin Hagler Hagler lost two of three fights to open 1976 that dropped his record to 26-2-1. But Hagler proceeded to turn his career around in a big way, reeling off a 36-0-1 streak that gained him recognition as arguably the greatest middleweight who ever lived. Hagler fought seven times in Nevada, including six world title fights. One of those was his third-round stoppage of Thomas Hearns in 1985 that many regard as one of the most exciting fights ever. He also lost a controversial decision to Sugar Ray Leonard in what turned out to be his final fight. He scored memorable wins in Nevada over Hearns, Roberto Duran, John Mugabi and Juan Domingo Roldan. He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Lennox Lewis – The 1988 Olympic gold medalist lived up to the hype as a professional. He was 41-2-1 with 32 knockouts and avenged each of his defeats. He fought a number of his big fights in Las Vegas and defeated Evander Holyfield, Hasim Rahman, Oliver McCall and David Tua in world title fights in Nevada. He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Marco Antonio Barrera – Barrera was 67-6 in his illustrious professional career, but could be a member of the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame for three fights alone: His legendary trilogy with Erik Morales. They were three of the greatest matches ever and all were held in Las Vegas. Barrera won two of the three, including the 2004 bout that was named Fight of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America. Barrera also defeated Prince Naseem Hamed and Kevin Kelley in Las Vegas and suffered a loss to Manny Pacquiao.

Felix "Tito" Trinidad – The big-punching Trinidad was 42-3 with 35 knockouts and participated in 10 world championship bouts in Las Vegas. His 1999 decision over Oscar De La Hoya was the best-selling non-heavyweight pay-per-view to that point, drawing 1.4 million sales. He also had a sensational slugfest win over Fernando Vargas in 2000, and had an impressive victory outdoors at Caesars Palace over David Reid. He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Gene Fullmer Fullmer fought Sugar Ray Robinson four times, going 2-1-1 in what were all world middleweight title bouts. He was 55-6-3 with 24 knockouts in his career. He was 2-0-1 in Nevada fights, all of which were for the middleweight title. He defeated Robinson and Benny Paret and drew with Dick Tiger. He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Pioneer category (Five elected)

James J. Corbett – Corbett was 14-4-3 with three no contests but had a rich boxing history in Nevada. Known as "Gentleman Jim," Corbett fought in the first world title fight in Nevada when he was beaten in 1897 by Bob Fitzsimmons in Carson City. He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Bob Fitzsimmons – Fitzsimmons became the first former middleweight champion to become heavyweight champion when he knocked out James J. Corbett in the 14th round in Carson City, Nev., on March 17, 1897. Fitzsimmons was 68-8-4 with 59 knockouts and 19 no contests. He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Jack Johnson – Johnson retained the heavyweight title when he knocked out Jim Jeffries in the 15th round of a scheduled 45-rounder in Reno on July 4, 1910. Johnson became the first African American man to hold the world heavyweight title and he faced great racism. He often had to battle a so-called "Great White Hope." Jeffries, the former champion, came out of retirement to fight Johnson in a bout that was dubbed "The Fight of the Century." He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Joe Gans – Gans became the first African American boxer to win a world title when he claimed the lightweight title in 1906. He fought twice in Nevada, defeating Battling Nelson in Goldfield, Nev., in 1906 and stopping Kid Herman in Tonopah in 1907. He was 158-12-20 with 100 knockouts and six no contests. He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Tex Rickard – Born George Lewis Rickard, Tex became the best-known boxing promoter in the first half of the 20th century. Rickard promoted heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey and in five fights together between 1921 and 1927, they grossed $8.4 million. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $114 million in 2014. He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Non-boxer participants (Six elected)

Lee Samuels – A former writer for the Philadelphia Bulletin, Lee Samuels became known as the best publicist in boxing when he was hired by Bob Arum. One of boxing's good guys who has won multiple awards from the Boxing Writers Association of America, Samuels was always devoted to Arum, Top Rank and the company's fighters. He was known for his detailed media notes and tirelessly spreading the word about boxing.

Pat & Dawn Barry – The husband-and-wife duo are significant players in the amateur boxing business in Nevada and have helped thousands of kids by getting them started in the state's amateur program. Their Las Vegas-based gym, Barry's Boxing, is a place where many of the sport's stars got their start and where numerous amateur tournaments are held. Among the many boxers that the Barrys developed are Augie Sanchez, Diego Magdaleno and Jesus Magdaleno.

Steve Sneddon – The long-time boxing writer for the Reno Gazette-Journal, Sneddon was among the finest journalists in the country for decades. He traveled the world reporting on fights for the Gannett News Service and was ringside for many of the sport's biggest events. He was known and respected by all of the major fighters for his honesty, accuracy and compelling writing on the sweet science.

Dr. Donald Romeo – Romeo was the ringside physician for more than 10,000 in an era where the weigh-in was on the day of the fight. He had tremendous responsibilities but always looked out for the fighters' best interests and was willing to pull a fighter from a card for health reasons no matter who objected. He was the doctor for the 1984 U.S. Olympic team and worked many major fights, including Muhammad Ali-Floyd Patterson.

Chuck Hull – A classy, well-dressed man who was known for wearing a tuxedo into the ring, Hull is regarded as one of the great ring announcers in the sport's history. A sportscaster at KLAS-TV, Channel 8, Hull announced most of the major fights in Las Vegas in the 1980s, including Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney, Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns and Muhammad Ali-Holmes. He also was the ring announcer for the boxing matches at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Dr. Robert Voy – One of the most respected ringside physicians in the sport's history, Voy was a fierce advocate for fighter safety and was heavily involved in the anti-doping movement. He was the chief medical officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee and served as the president of USA Boxing. He was known for treating many of the sport's biggest stars, often for free when they were unable to pay.

Established in 2013,  the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame is a 501 (c) (3) IRS tax-exempt corporation committed to helping boxing-related causes. In keeping with its mission, the NVBHOF will award its donations to several groups, organizations, clubs and schools working hard to promote the positive aspects of boxing.  All donations, raffles, and ticket purchases to NVBHOF events are tax-deductible.  To donate, please go to www.nvbhof.com/donate.  For more information on the Hall of Fame, the induction ceremony or the Hall's mission, phone 702-368-2463 or visit its website at http://nvbhof.com.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Julio Cesar Chavez to be Honored by the WBC in Mexico






Julio Cesar Chavez- Veni vidi Vici

February 3rd, 2015.
By James Blears
In 46 BC, The Roman General, and subsequent Emperor Julius Caesar boldly wrote: “Veni vidi vici- I came, I saw, I conquered,” in a succinct scroll to The Senate, after winning the battle of Zela, in Turkey- it’s aptly come to mean a short sharp victory. There are many statues to the great man dotted around the World. Now more than two thousand years later, this coming Thursday February 5th, a brand new statue will be unveiled to another great warrior. This man is an Aztec Emperor! “El Gran Mexicano” Julio Cesar Chavez is the greatest ever Mexican bóxer, by a long chalk. In an illustrous career of twenty five years, seven months and twelve days incorporating 115 battles, he won 107 times, put 86 opponents “To the sword,” lost just six times and notched two draws. Julio was six times World Champion in the three divisions- as super featherweight, lightweight and super lightweight. His records are legion.
His undefeated streak of 89-0-1, lasted an incredible 13 years, until the bubble finally burst against Frankie Randall, via a split decison loss on January 29th 1994. Julio was down for the first time in his career in the eleventh. Gashed after an accidental clash of heads in the rematch less than four months later, Julio won an eighth round technical decison and his WBC super lightweight title once again. Julio’s tied with Joe Louis for 27 successful title defences, but in Julio’s case it spans a triple weight chart. He’s out on his own with 31 title victories and the most title fights with 37. A record 132,274 fans paid to see him demolish Greg Haugen within five blistering rounds in the cavernous Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. The final figure actually exceded 136,000 as a “few” more were let in for free at the very last moment. There was hardly breathing space let alone standing room. And the ground literally rumbled like the primary shockwave of an earthquake, on the completion of the Mexican National Anthem. I know because I was there! Julio specifically requested the location and the date of the statue ceremony, because his very first fight happened on February 5th 1980, at Revolution Park, Culican, when he defeated Andres Felix via a sixth round KO. Accompanied by his cohorts in an an odyssey spanning Empires, nations, territories, principalities over decades, Julio’s now returning to where it all started, in order to historically close the circle.
There’s no place like home. And there’s no author like Homer! The statue will be adorned with the accolade of Boxing- a famed World Boxing Council green and gold belt. Befitting a boxing Emperor, a royal entourage will be at hand to pay homage to The Great One. It will include: World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman, Don King, Team Mexico Soccer Coach Miguel Herrera, Oscar De La Hoya, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez, Juan Laporte, Jesse James Leija and famed former Referee Richard Steele. One of the guests, Juan Laporte gave Julio a real run for his money, when the two fought in Madison Square Garden on December 12th 1986. Two inches shorter than Julio and appreciably outreached, stocky Juan fought a magnificent fight, trying his utmost to wrench away Julio’s WBC super featherweight buckle. Juan was a natural featherweight and somewhat over extending himself, by moving up. This was Julio’s lightest championship weight. Baby faced, he appeared pencil slim and would soon beef up to lightweight.
Both men fought a superb battle. Two of the three scores after the final bell, reflected just how close it had been. Judge Larry O’Connell had it 115-114. Bob Logist scored it 114-113. While Sid Nathan saw it otherwise at 117-112….all for Julio. Even going into that last round it was oh so very close. Throughout the fight, Juan had landed the most noticeable blows, but Julio had landed more frequently. The last three minutes gave us an early glimpse and a firm indication of what made Julio Cesar Chavez such a great Champion. Julio was relatively unmarked, while Juan’s faced was as battered as fish and chip shop on a bank Holiday Monday. They started the round relatively evenly. But as it wore on Juan began to tire and Julio earned his salt by going into to sizzling overdrive. The word I’m looking for is relentless! Julio dug ever deeper to pile up the punches, chipping away, to grill his opponent. It’s the bread and butter ingredient of a great Champion, because Juan, who’d been an excellent world Champion in his own right, was certainly not small fry! Another fabled and far more punctuated example of Julio’s rooster like sheer grit was in the war against Meldrick Taylor on March 17th 1990 at the Las Vegas Hilton. Both were undefeated. Meldrick who’d won an Olympic gold medal as a featherweight, was now IBF super lightweight Champion. Julio was WBC Champion.
Fleet of foot Meldrick’s quicksilver, dazzling hand speed presented complex problems for Julio, who was shipping waves of punches to land one at a time of his own. But when Julio’s blows connected, they did so with sinking thuds. Years later the late great Trainer Emanuel Steward, who had no direct involvement in this fight, told me that he’d helped train Meldrick for the 1984 Los Angles Oympics and confided that Meldrick sometimes didn’t clench his hands sufficiently firmly into the ball of a fist inside his gloves. Manny…. but not many who intently studied the fight, agreed that although Meldrick had amply outlanded Julio, the far more telling blows came from Julio and he had Julio ahead going into the final round. It’s a view that Judge Chuck Giampa shared. Prior to that final stanza, he had Julio leading 105-104. But Judge Dave Moretti was scoring it 107-102 for Meldrick. While Judge Judge Jerry Roth had it 108-101 for Meldrick. It was now or never! During the fight, Meldrick had swallowed a lot of his own blood, seeping from a gash on his lower lip, which had occured in training and had then duly re-opened during the for real hostilities. Julio’s ferocious body attack principally featuring his signature left hook to the liver found its mark, and so did his punches as he steadily elevated them upstairs. By the eleventh round, Meldrick was a sight for sore eyes! His face was terribly swollen. He’d suffered a doublé fracture to the cheekbone. After the fight he was urinating pure blood and he was immediatly hospitalized in a terrible state. He’d suffered liver and kidney damage.
In the minute of respite before that last round, Meldrick’s corner oddly urged him to go out and fight, instead of coasting. Meanwhile Jose “Buffalo” Martin in Julio’s corner was bellowing and insisting rather than imploring:
“Go for the opportunity. He’s slowing. Julio for your Family!!!” Years later Julio grinningly told me: “Hey… and why not for me?!” Less than thirty seconds from the final bell, Julio caught Meldrick with a hard long right, pitching him forward. Meldrick stayed up, but his legs were beginning to disobay him. Then with seventeen seconds to go, Julio trapped Meldrick in a corner, swivelled and BOOM, a massive overhead right felled Meldrick. Somehow Meldrick got up at the count of six. He was still clutching the ropes to support himself. Famously Referee Richard Steele twice asked him if he was OK? Meldrick claimed he was looking to his corner. But he appeared to be staring vacantly into outer space. Pure drama as Steele stopped it with just two seconds left on the clock. Julio had pulled it out of the embers with a red hot póker of a TKO!
Post fight, Richard told Commentator Larry Merchant: “When I see that a man has had enough, I’m stopping the fight.” He also even more significantly added: “There’s no fight that’s worth a man’s life!” It won Ring Magazine Fight of the year, and then later its Fight of the decade. The essence of undistilled pungent drama! Their second encounter on 17th September 1994 was a dull as ditchwater. Julio stopped a faded Meldrick with a left hook in round eight. The Showdown at the Azteca Stadium with Greg Haugen was another spectacle for all the ages. Julio Cesar Chavez and Greg Haugen cordially loathed each other even before the brilliant publicity machine swung the spotlight to illuminate their fight, brimming with the vinegar of spite. Greg had gatecrashed a Julio training session in Las Vegas, sneering that Julio was sparring with Little girls and HE himself was willing to step up and swop some real punches with Julio… for free! Subsequently, In the Wagnerian overture to their clash Greg noted: “The way I see it, sixty of the guys he fought were just Tijuana cab drivers that my Mother could have knocked out. But the other twenty two are good fighters, so I’m not taking him lightly.”
He also suggested: “Ain’t 130,000 Mexicans who can afford to buy tickets.” As the self styled arch villain, who was fated to be booed and hissed, Greg had painted himself into a corner! What a palaver! From my experience many Tijuana taxi drivers are just as rough hewn as some of the guys that Greg had fought in the Tough Man Contests. But the vile bile found its mark with Julio, who acidly retorted: “I really hate him. When he looks at me I want to vomit! I’m going to give him the worst beating of his life.” When I interviewed Greg in his plush suite at the Intercontinental Hotel on Reforma Avenue in Mexico City, he was still in peppery mood, wolfishly smirking: “At least I won’t have to go chasing after Julio, like I did with Hector “Macho” Camacho!” Greg certainly didn’t. He was down from a hard right, less than 30 seconds after the opening bell, and again, caught flush with an even harder right hook in the fifth, before a welter of unanswered shots obliged Referee Joe Cortez to call a halt and save him, at two minutes and two seconds. Even before the slaughter, via “Lam…chops”, Greg had used up a lot of emotional energy with his grand entrance, raucously accompanying himself to Bruce Springstein’s “Born in the USA.” But that night he was NOT “The Boss.”
Aferwards, a more contrite Greg sheepishly conceded: “They must have been very tough taxi drivers!” Another guest at the statue event is Oscar De La Hoya. He and Julio fought twice. The first time at Caesar’s Palace las Vegas on June 7th 1996, Julio was stopped on cuts in the fourth. He’d been more than nicked in training before the start of the fight, and the wound quickly unzipped. Their second encounter on September 18th 1998 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Vegas, Oscar stopped him in eight due to a gash to the mouth. But not before Julio had given the younger, fresher and bigger Golden Boy a peach of a black eye. There are so many classic fights Julio starred in. The bust up with Puerto Rico’s Edwin Rosario on November 21st 1987 for the WBA lightweight title, when powering on all cylinders Julio destroyed Edwin with a spectacular TKO in the eleventh round. And when on September 12th 1992, as WBC super lightweight Champion Julio fought Hector “Macho” Camacho, who was WBO Champion. In a press conference here in Mexico, Hector had not been at all amused with a nervous translator, who mixed his name up with Manuel Camacho Solis- the then Mayor of Mexico City.
Things went even worse for Hector in the fight, and he did well to finish on his feet, defeated by unanimous decison. A light armoured car against a blasting battle tank! As with so many all time greats, knowing when to leave the stage on cue eluded Julio, and the twighlight years steadily crept up, with ensuing defeats. Frankie Randall resplendent in a strawberry colored suit was enticed to the Plaza de Toros in Mexico City for a third fight on May 22nd 2004. Both he and Julio had seen better days. Frankie’s Manager Dan Hale wryly observed: “If it was a running race, Frankie would win!” It wasn’t and he didn’t. Julio won a decison in ten rounds. It had been billed as: “Adios Mexico, Gracias.” After the verdict was announced Julio bestrode the ropes and saluted his adoring fans. As he descended, his legs momentarily wobbled. Had this been a pyrrhic victory? It wasn’t quite the end, but the final curtain was now plainly in sight.
Not many people have a statue built for them while they’re still alive. Julio Cesar Chavez qualifies because he’s a LIVING LEGEND! Muhammad Ali’s Mother Odessa once recalled that when he was a baby he reached up and accidently caught her in the mouth, dislodging a tooth. I’d like to think that when Julio Cesar Chavez was an infant, he reached up and walloped God with an almighty left hook to the liver. God then staggered and broke the mould by dropping it!
There’ll never again be one like Julio Cesar Chavez Gonzalez!