6. Bobby Chacon vs. Rafael “Bazooka” Limon – Dec. 7, 1975 to Dec. 11, 1982
The wild-swinging Limon was largely unknown when he met Chacon in Mexicali in December 1975. On the other hand, Chacon was on the comeback trail, for two fights earlier Ruben Olivares dethroned the weight-weakened “Schoolboy” in two crushing rounds and he hoped a win over Limon would allow him to mount another title challenge, this time at 130 pounds. The 19-7 (14) Limon upset those plans by scoring a 10-round unanimous decision and vaulting himself onto the world stage.
Fight two was held at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in April 1979 with Chacon’s NABF junior lightweight title at stake. This time the notoriously distracted Chacon was fully focused and his boxing skills largely dictated the action. An accidental clash of heads opened a cut over Limon’s right eye that was so severe the fight had to be stopped in round seven. Because Chacon was ahead on all three scorecards (60-56 and 59-56 twice) – and because the man who suffered the cut could not lose – the fight was declared a technical draw.
More controversy erupted in fight three, which was staged at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. in March 1980. Limon looked a solid winner as his jabs repeatedly snapped back Chacon’s head and he got the better of the brawling along the ropes. Judge Marty Denkin agreed as he saw Limon a 96-95 winner but he was overruled by referee John Thomas and judge Frank Rustich as their 96-95 scores awarded Chacon a disputed win.
This series’ placement on the list is largely powered by their fourth fight, which ranks as the single greatest fight this scribe has ever seen in terms of action, drama, crowd atmospherics and story lines. By now Limon had won the WBC super featherweight title vacated by Alexis Arguello and was making his first defense against his longtime rival. Chacon’s quest to regain a title belt was now in its seventh year and along the way it claimed his wife Valerie, who committed suicide rather than see her husband continue to ply his risky trade.
The fight see-sawed dramatically as Limon scored knockdowns in rounds three and 10 while Chacon repeatedly – and brilliantly – fought off the ropes and banked rounds. Entering the 15th Chacon was down by one point on two scorecards and only a knockdown could vault him over the top. With less than 20 seconds remaining in the fight Chacon dropped Limon with a series of blows and the crowd inside Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium nearly blew off the roof. In the most dramatic fashion possible, Chacon won the belt by scores of 143-141, 142-141 and 141-140 as well as the series by a 2-1-1 margin.