Lee Groves

10: Julio Cesar Chavez’s greatest performances

November 21, 1987 — Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas — KO 11 Edwin Rosario

Setting the scene: During the final two years of Chavez’s 130-pound reign the boxing world salivated at the prospect of his inevitable lightweight invasion. When he signed to fight WBA titleholder Rosario the reality turned out to be far better than the dream.

The 24-year-old “Chapo” had reinvigorated his career with a shocking two-round blitzkrieg of Livingstone Bramble 14 months earlier and consolidated his comeback with a non-title two-rounder over Roger Brown and an eighth-round stoppage over future beltholder (and conqueror) Juan Nazario. In other words, the most dominant 130-pounder of his era was meeting the most dangerous lightweight of the moment in a classic Mexico vs. Puerto Rico showdown.

What Happened: On this night Chavez was the perfect fighting machine. Every part of his game was honed to its finest edge as he flawlessly shifted from body to head and back again, muscled the supposedly stronger Rosario into the ropes and kept him there with a patient yet murderous assault. Chavez’s precision power shots chipped away at Rosario’s resolve and prevented the defending titleholder from generating the fight-ending power he needed to save his championship. Chavez was just as impressive on defense as he deflected or weaved away from Rosario’s bombs as if he possessed ESP.

A big combination at the end of the eighth stunned the Puerto Rican and when Rosario tried to move away in the ninth Chavez soon forced him back into close-range combat. The beating became even more severe in the 10th and by in the 11th Rosario’s left eye was nearly closed.

Knowing Rosario was ripe for the taking Chavez trapped the soon-to-be ex-champ in his own corner and ripped away at the flanks for nearly half the round. He mixed in enough head shots to slam the eye shut and Rosario’s corner, realizing their man’s giant heart demanded too much from his body, mercifully threw in the towel.

The CompuBox stats chronicled the scope of Chavez’s dominance. Landing 61 percent of his total punches, Chavez out-landed Rosario 450-264. Such was the greatness that was Julio Cesar Chavez.

 

Will his son ever approach his old man in terms of greatness? The odds say no, but that shouldn’t take away from the enjoyment of seeing him try.

 

Photo / THE RING

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