Doug Fischer

Hall of Fame: Chavez earned title of greatest Mexican fighter ever


Chavez’s first title defense against Castillo was especially impressive given the well-schooled contender’s track record against the top fighters of the era. Castillo went the distance with both Sanchez and LaPorte in competitive title bout losses. The only time Castillo had been knocked out prior to the Chavez fight was against the great Alexis Arguello, who stopped him in the 11th round in a title bout that he was winning.

“I thought Castillo beat Sanchez,” said veteran cutman Tony Rivera, who worked Castillo’s corner for the Chavez fight. “He trained properly for the first time in his life when he fought Chavez and he still got his ass kicked.”

Castillo told that Chavez hit him harder than any fighter he ever faced. He added that the pressure-fighting Mexican also took a good shot.

“We went to the dirt in the early rounds of that fight,” Castillo said. “At the end of the fourth round, just before the bell, I hit him right on the chin with the best left hook I ever landed. He got in my face, looked me in the eye, and said something in Spanish pertaining to my mother. I thought to myself ‘Oh s__t, now I’ve made him angry.’

“I fought a lot of champions and top contenders, but Chavez was the best pin-point shooter I ever faced. When he threw, he threw to land and to hurt you. I never experienced a body puncher like Julio.”

Castillo says he still winces when he thinks about the body shot that ended their fight, which took place at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., in April of 1985.

“He landed a left to my liver just as I was throwing a right hand and it felt like I had been stabbed,” he said. “A piercing pain burned throughout my entire body and I collapsed. I couldn’t get up. I thought I was paralyzed.”

Chavez also inflicted considerable damage to Castillo‘s upper body.

“He put 15 stitches around my left eye, he broke my cheekbone and two of my ribs in just six rounds,” Castillo said. “Don King, the promoter of the show, came to my dressing room after the fight and asked me if I wanted a rematch. I said ‘Are you stupid?’ I’m not going to Disneyland, bro, I’m going to the hospital. I told him ‘Don, you better sign this kid to a lifetime contract, he’s going to be a legend.’”

After beating the best fighters in the 130-pound division, Chavez set out to fulfill that promise by going after the major beltholders in the lightweight division.

He won his second major title, the WBA’s 135-pound belt, by stopping feared Puerto Rican puncher Edwin Rosario in the 11th round in November of 1987. Chavez added the WBC’s lightweight title to his collection (and earned THE RING’s recognition as the lightweight champ) 11 months later with an 11-round technical decision over countryman Jose Luis Ramirez.

He won his fourth major belt, the WBC’s junior welterweight (140 pounds) title, and entered the mythical pound-for-pound rankings, by stopping Mayweather in the 10th round of their anticipated rematch in May of ‘89 at the Forum.

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