Glory Nights: Chavez v Taylor
On 17 March 1990 two men entered the ring in the Hilton hotel, Las Vegas. What transpired would be later named the ‘Fight of the Decade’ by boxing bible Ring Magazine. For one man it would mean a place in legend, for the other it would be the beginning of the end.
One month after James ‘Buster’ Douglas shocked the world by dethroning heavyweight ruler ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson, junior welterweight champions Julio Cesar Chavez and Meldrick Taylor would do battle in what was another promotional humdinger by way of Don King. Titled Thunder And Lightening, the event brought the hardest man in the division against the fastest.
The hardest, Julio Cesar Chavez, was as Mexican as they came. A three-time world champion who never ducked a fight, Chavez had earned his plaudits the hard way, going toe-to-toe for however long his opponents stood in his way. By the time of the fight he had built up a 68-0 record and had a penchant for scrapping at close quarters that was unmatched across the sport.
The fastest, Meldrick Taylor, was a different proposition all-together. Also undefeated, Taylor’s career trajectory was doing everything it was supposed to at the time, having won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics. The Mayweather of his era, Taylor had the hand and foot speed to make him untouchable. There was only one problem: he was from Philadelphia. And as boxers from Philadelphia went, the unwritten rule was that you stand and fight – it would be his undoing.
Come fight night and to everyone’s surprise it wasn’t even close. The 23-year-old upstart from Philadelphia was handing out a boxing lesson. Chavez was being beaten to the punch in every encounter and even more insulting was the fact that Taylor had no qualms heading to the middle of the ring to trade. As the rounds wore on the gulf in technical ability began to widen but scarily for Taylor, the damage factor began to swing the other way.
Although Chavez was only landing one shot for every four that was coming in, the power of that one shot was the equivalent of two Taylor flurries, every punch was a crushing hammer blow. In short, Taylor was the more beat-up boxer as the fight went into the later rounds. Up on the judges’ scorecards, Taylor should have only had one thing in mind when he trudged out for the final round, keep away from Julio Cesar. But being from where he was from, running wasn’t an option ‘cos Philly fighters don’t hide. Taylor clearly wanted to win with his warrior’s head held high, but the jarring blows kept landing and hurting… Chavez just kept coming and coming…and the clock kept ticking. See you in the centre of the ring…