The 25-year career of Julio Cesar Chavez saw him break records and secure his place in the list of the best fighters to ever lace up the gloves.
This adored Mexican fought a total of 115 bouts, winning 107 and losing just six. He holds the record for most successful world titles defences – 27 – and was involved in some of the most thrilling fights and finishes fans have had the privilege to witness.
One such moment in his career came against Meldrick Taylor, a man he credited in The Ring Magazine as the best he ever faced.
“I would land one shot and I would take four in return. He was quick. More than anything it was the fact he had real quick hands. By the time I landed one real power shot I was taking five, six in return. They weren’t hard shots, they weren’t power shots, but I couldn’t get in my range, I couldn’t get established.
In that fight I made a big mistake, which was trying to fight at his pace. That’s why down the stretch I was exhausted, I was completely exhausted. I found a way to do it but I was done.”
“I faced everybody. If you look at my record, all the fights I had, I had 37 world championship fights and I didn’t hand pick any opponents. But if I was to look at the best overall fighter, it would have to be Meldrick Taylor.”
The pair met first at the Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas in 1990. Chavez stepped through the ropes with a record of 68-0, whilst the younger Taylor was unbeaten in 24.
He overcame the gulf in experience by largely controlling the contest with incredible speed allowing him to build-up a steady lead.
Entering the final round, the commentary team said Chavez was on course to lose his WBC super-lightweight title and undefeated record in three minutes. It’s no surprise the Mexican came out on the front foot looking to stop Taylor, who had swollen eyes and a bloody nose from his excellent showing.
The American fought like he had for the previous eleven, not looking to hold on or see it out. With 24 seconds on the clock, a one-two from Chavez wobbled him, and a right hook put him down eight seconds later.
Exhausted, dazed and with his legs not entirely beneath him, Taylor rose. The referee asked if he was okay before waving it off, signalling a huge switch in momentum and a win that embodies the fighting spirit of Chavez.
The pair would fight again four years later, with Chavez taking it by eighth round stoppage. Taylor retired with a more modest record of 38-8-1.