Lee Groves

10: Greatest 122-pound title fights

8. Juan “Kid” Meza KO 1 Jaime Garza – November 3, 1984, Kingston, New York

Garza, a hard-hitting Texan, was being touted as the next Danny “Little Red” Lopez because of his incredible punching power (38 knockouts in his 40-0 record), their shared trainer in Bennie Georgino and Garza’s propensity for scoring off-the-floor KO victories. The Meza bout was televised by CBS as a co-feature to Billy Costello’s WBC super lightweight defense against Saoul Mamby, but the real purpose was to introduce the exciting Garza to a nationwide audience.

Meza, of course, had other plans – and they were put into motion several hours before the fight.

Shortly after both men scaled 121½ they retreated to the hotel dining room to replenish themselves. Garza and manager Georgino were already eating when the usually reserved Meza approached their table.

“Jaime had a full plate, steak and eggs,” recalled CBS boxing consultant Mort Sharnik in the May 1985 issue of KO. “Meza nodded his approval and then said, ‘It’s good that you’re eating well…you’ll need it.’ In effect, he was saying, ‘you’ll be eating humble pie later.’ And Meza’s voice never rose above (a normal tone).”

Most fighters would have shrugged this off but Garza shouted back at Meza, rose from his seat and lunged at his mild-mannered tormentor. Garza continued to brood when they entered the ring six hours later and at first it appeared the defending titlist had properly channeled his fury. Just 40 seconds into the fight a wide hook off Meza’s temple decked the Mexican for the first time in his 47-fight career. Meza’s face was unsettlingly placid as he sat on the canvas for what seemed like an eternity before jumping up at eight.

A wide-open Garza swarmed in for the finish while Meza coolly picked his spots. One of those spots led to a most surprising finish – a finish that would lead to a Round of the Year honor from THE RING.

Both men prepared to fire hooks but Meza’s got there first. The massive blow snapped Garza’s head violently to the side, spun his body to the right and crashed hard to the floor, his head hitting the canvas with sickening force. Garza desperately tried to rise using the ropes but time eventually ran out on him as referee Johnny LoBianco completed the 10-count. The time: 2:54.

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