Lee Groves

10: Julio Cesar Chavez’s greatest performances

April 16, 1988 — Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas — TKO 6 Rodolfo Aguilar

Setting the Scene: The once-beaten Aguilar was the kind of mandatory challenger no champion wanted to meet — a rangy, mobile, pesky, volume-punching southpaw. The fact that Aguilar was reportedly the first left-hander Chavez had faced in 57 pro fights made the challenge even more daunting but the Mexican, who was making the second defense of his WBA lightweight title, was more than up to the task.

What Happened: Chavez faced several anxious moments against Aguilar but his fists conjured the right answers. Seconds after suffering a cut over his left eye late in round one, Chavez sent Aguilar sprawling with two lead rights to the face. Chavez bloodied Aguilar’s nose and cut his rival’s left eye in round two but the determined Panamanian continued to pelt the champion with punches from all angles. HBO’s Harold Lederman and Larry Merchant had Aguilar ahead 38-37 after four rounds based on his blender-like attack but Chavez eventually found a way to reverse the tide.

A hard right to the chin buckled Aguilar midway through the fifth and his follow-up assault started to close the challenger’s left eye. Chavez’s pressure increased even more in round six as he blasted Aguilar’s ribs with both hands and chased him around the ring. Those body shots set up a crisp right to the jaw that caused Aguilar to totter back a couple of steps, turn away and spin to the floor. Up at five, a blank-faced Aguilar responded to referee Richard Steele’s questions by dropping his head, telling the veteran official he wanted no more. Who could blame him? According to CompuBox, Chavez landed 52 percent of his punches.

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