Boxing fans had anticipated the superfeatherweight championship bout between unbeaten champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. and No. 1 ranked Jesus Chavez for more than three years. That's how long it's taken Chavez, dubbed "El Matador," to convince immigration officials to allow him back into the United States from Mexico. (See "Knockdown," May 18, 2000.)
Chavez, who was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, was raised in Chicago since he was 7. At 17, he wanted to impress some local bad boys and went along on an armed robbery. Chavez was arrested and spent three and a half years in prison. The day he was paroled, an INS officer was waiting to ship him back to Mexico. Chavez arrived in Mexico City and made his way to his grandparents' house in Delicias, where his father was waiting to sneak him back into the States. He trained in Austin for a while before being nabbed by immigration again after he applied for a Texas driver's license. (That wasn't smart, Buzz supposes, but then he is a boxer, not a rocket scientist.)
Finally, on November 10, in front of a sellout crowed at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, Chavez shocked the world by not answering the bell in the ninth round of his scheduled 12-round fight.
"I'm not a loser," Chavez said afterward. "I gave the best fighter in the world the best fight he's ever had."
For a while, anyway.
Scorecard man Al Lederman only had Mayweather up by one round, but the eighth round was tough for Chavez. He was pounded inside, and he essentially beat himself with the flurry of punches he threw in the earlier rounds.
"I knew he couldn't outbox me," Mayweather said after the fight. "I knew coming in the kind of fight he would give me. I let him punch himself out."
Chavez was classy in his comments after the bout, saying his trainer stopped the fight because he knew there would be plenty others for the 28-year-old boxer, maybe even another title shot at 130 pounds, since Mayweather announced that this was his last fight in this weight class. "I was getting hurt," Chavez said. "I think safety comes first."
If that's the case, Chavez might need a career change, since safety and a job that involves getting punched in the head are an unlikely combination. Maybe he should consider politics.
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