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TWO SECONDS FROM GLORY, TWO SECONDS TO HEARTBREAK

Bernard Fernandez

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Two seconds.

How long is that? Maybe long enough for 1½ beats of the average human being’s heart, or for a long inbounds pass to Duke All-America Christian Laettner, who made one of the most memorable buzzer-beating shots in college basketball history.

It is but a tiny snippet of time, a few blinks of the eye, a sneeze, a hiccup. But a snippet is enough to make the difference between a gold medal and a silver in the Olympics, or between victory and defeat in one of the most controversial boxing matches ever.

The Ring magazine very well might have selected the epic first clash between undefeated super lightweight champions Julio Cesar Chavez and Meldrick Taylor its Fight of the Year for 1990 even had that bout ended two seconds sooner. But those two seconds had yet to tick off, and the nature of the bout’s conclusion – with referee Richard Steele waving his arms and awarding Chavez, who was too far behind on the scorecards to win on points, even with the benefit of his 12th-round knockdown of Taylor – has stamped it as a matter of perennial debate. Should Steele, who had to be aware of the flashing red light in his field of vision as he administered a standing-eight count to a badly shaken Taylor, signifying that the fight was in its final few seconds, have allowed the Philadelphian the benefit of that sneeze or hiccup? Or did Steele, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2014, make the right call, one rendered on the side of caution?

So incredible was the unification fight of two 140-pound kings at the height of their powers – the 23-year-old Taylor, the IBF titlist, went in at 24-0-1, with 13 knockouts, to 67-0 with 49 wins inside the distance for Chavez, 27, the WBC ruler and Mexican national hero — that Chavez-Taylor got that Fight of the Year nod over a little scrap in Tokyo five weeks earlier, in which a 42-to-1 longshot named Buster Douglas knocked out heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, the most fearsome visitor to the Land of the Rising Sun since Godzilla.

I was at ringside for both fights, and although Tyson-Douglas was undoubtedly the bigger event from a historical perspective, given the aura of invincibility that clung to Tyson that afternoon (because of the 14-hour time difference between the East Coast and Japan, the bout began Sunday afternoon in Japan, Saturday night in the U.S.), but Chavez-Taylor, to me, was the more compelling scrap. It was, in every sense of the word, worthy of all the hype, which might or might not be the case when welterweight champs Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao swap punches in an even-more-anticipated unification pairing on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

It was my opinion then, and now, that Taylor deserved the victory he had earned in the first 35 minutes, 58 seconds of a war for the ages. Chavez knew there were only a few seconds remaining until the final bell, and he was right behind Steele, poised to charge forward and get in one last, telling lick. Had Steele signaled Chavez to return to the farthest neutral corner, the fight almost certainly would have ended in a Taylor split-decision victory.

There were, however, other ingredients in the bubbling broth of woulda-coulda-shoulda. What if Taylor co-trainer Lou Duva, an excitable sort under the best of circumstances, not mounted the ring apron and distracted Taylor, who turned his head to look at Duva instead of Steele when the referee was asking him if he was OK? It can be argued that Duva’s actions were tantamount to a towel toss, signifying surrender. But had Steele even noticed him?

What didn’t wash, at least to me, was Steele – whose integrity I didn’t question then, nor do now – saying that he treated all fighters the same, be they journeymen or celebrated world champions. It was Steele who, queried about his reluctance to call a halt in the third round of WBC middleweight champion Thomas Hearns’ June 6, 1988, defense against Iran Barkley, with ample time left on the clock and Hearns badly hurt and sagging against the ropes, said that, “Thomas Hearns is a great champion, and great champions deserve the opportunity to fight their way out of trouble.”

Make no mistake: What happened to Meldrick Taylor, whose downward spiral after the first Chavez fight (he was stopped in eight rounds in the rematch, on Sept 17, 1994), would have happened regardless of the outcome. The damage he absorbed from JCC’s heavy blows that night at the Las Vegas Hilton, it became increasingly obvious, was irreversible. Although Taylor, a gold medalist at 17 at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, would go on to capture another world title, scoring a unanimous decision over WBA super lightweight champion Aaron Davis on Jan. 19, 1991, and successfully defending it twice, he was a ghost of his former brilliance in losing on a fourth-round TKO when he challenged WBC super welterweight king Terry Norris on May 9, 1992.

What Chavez started, Norris clearly finished, so much so that Taylor, who had retained his WBA welterweight championship, was never a factor in relinquishing the title a one-sided, eighth-round stoppage to Crisanto Espana on Oct. 31, 1992, in London, on the undercard of heavyweight Lennox Lewis’ –round blowout of Razor Ruddock. So alarmed was Lou Duva by what he saw of Taylor, who at his finest could not possibly have been beaten by the likes of Espana, that he urged Taylor – then all of 26 — to immediately retire. Not surprisingly, Taylor refused. He would go 6-5 in his final 11 bouts, mostly against second- and third-tier opposition.

“I love the kid and I’m not going to let him get hurt,” Duva said after Taylor’s beatdown from Espana. “As far as I’m concerned, he shouldn’t fight again. He’s a great person and he’s been a great champion. He’s recovered from every disappointment he’s had in this sport, and he’ll recover from this.

“There’s been some wise guys who’ll try to convince him to keep on fighting, but it’s pretty obvious he’s through. I wouldn’t even put him in there with a four-round preliminary guy. Why? Because it only would take one punch to do it (seriously hurt Taylor).”

Had Taylor survived Chavez’s desperate 12th-round onslaught, would he have merited the win that seemingly had been within his grasp? That is a matter of judging preference; it was clear that Taylor, whose blurring hand speed was a marvel to behold, had the edge in quantity, landing punches in bunches. But Chavez packed more pop, so give him the upper hand for the impact of those shots that did connect. After the fight, Taylor spent the night at Valley View Hospital where he was treated for dehydration, a lacerated tongue and a small fracture in the bone behind his left eye. He also lost two pints of blood during the course of the bout.

“It was sad to see Meldrick last night,” Taylor’s twin brother, Eldrick, said of one of the more heartbreaking defeats ever suffered by any fighter. “`Two seconds,’” he kept repeating. “Two seconds.”

Those two seconds, truth be told, have haunted Meldrick Taylor until this day. They no doubt will haunt him for the rest of a life shrouded in recriminations.

“I think I fought the best fight I could have fought,” he said upon his release from the hospital. “I beat Chavez at his own game. A lot of people said he was going to wear me down with body shots, but I gave more than 100 percent. And then for the referee to stop it like that … it was traumatic for me.”

Until Steele waved his arms, Taylor – who, perhaps unwisely, had been advised by Duva before the climactic 12th round to continue to take the fight to Chavez instead of sitting on his presumed lead – was too far ahead to be caught on points. His rapid-fire combinations had found favor with judges Jerry Roth and Dave Moretti, who had him ahead by respective margins of 108-101 and 107-102, with Chuck Giampa favoring Chavez by 105-104. And for those who would argue that Taylor was foolish in not getting on his bicycle, remember that Oscar De La Hoya thought he was too far ahead to lose a decision to Felix Trinidad. Chavez’s status as a hugely popular Mexican icon might have had the Duva corner leery that the scorecards weren’t as tilted in their man’s favor as it turned out.

Lou Duva and his son, Dan, the Main Events president who served as Taylor’s promoter, reacted to the sudden, shocking ending by seeking to have the result overturned, citing violations of IBF rule 14, WBC rule 12 and NSAC rule 467.740, all of which essentially are the same. It was their contention that Steele, by not directing Chavez to the farthest neutral corner, had made a mistake that in essence deprived Taylor of his greatest moment of professional glory. But those official protests were not upheld, and neither was their alternative demand that the fight be declared a no-contest, which would have allowed Taylor to retain his IBF belt.

HBO revisited that amazing fight, and its aftermath, in 2002 with the documentary “Legendary Nights: The Tale of Chavez-Taylor,” with arguments made on both sides of the issue.

“I thought Richard Steele made a bad stoppage,” offered Larry Merchant, HBO’s longtime fight analyst. “Meldrick Taylor fought his heart out. He had earned the right of those extra two seconds.”

Counterpoints were offered by Boston sports columnist Ron Borges, and, of course, Steele.

“It was hard initially to step back and reallylook at what had happened,” Borges opined. “One guy (Taylor) got assaulted at the end, is what happened. Should they have stopped the fight? Yeah, they should have stopped the fight.”

Added Steele: “I was really thrilled to be selected for this fight … Really, a great moment in my life. I never regretted what I did.”

Again, the whirling dervish that had been Meldrick Taylor ceased to exist that March night a quarter-century ago. It was a fight that cost him a significant chunk of his prime, additional financial benefits (he had agreed to a six-bout, $10 million-to-$12 million contract extension with HBO, contingent on his winning) and, sadly, his health. His gift literally had been beaten out of him.

In the HBO documentary, Las Vegas ring physician Margaret Goodman said that Taylor, whose slurred speech just a few years after the Chavez fight was in marked contrast to the pre-Chavez model, “shows all evidence of chronic brain injury,” and that his continued participation as an active boxer makes me embarrassed for the sport.”

Some people – those who don’t understand the thrall in which boxing holds its participants — have told me that Muhammad Ali stayed too long at the fair, that if they were in his place and knew what awaited him, they would never even have taken up such a dangerous occupation. But there are others who gladly would risk all to know, even for a day, what it must feel like to be one of the most charismatic and admired athletes ever to walk the face of the earth. There is a steep price that sometimes must be paid to achieve extraordinary things, and I have to believe a significant percentage of those who never come close to breaking free from the shackles of the mundane would accept future diminishment for true greatness in the full bloom of their youth.

Meldrick Taylor came so very close to having it all, and one can only wonder if he could more easily accept his sad present circumstances had he only had the benefit of two seconds that forever will be just beyond his grasp.

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Late-Bloomer Jersey Joe Walcott Goes the Distance Again With Statue in Camden

Bernard Fernandez

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It may not always be apparent to those with untrained eyes, but there is genuine art in boxing for those who understand the beauty and majesty of a perfectly timed left hook. Just such a masterful moment of the sweet science was authored by Jersey Joe Walcott on July 18, 1951, in the seventh round of his fifth and likely final shot at the heavyweight championship he had been clawing and scratching his way toward since he turned pro at 16 in 1930.

Again a longshot against the great Ezzard Charles, against whom he already was 0-2 in title bouts, a frozen moment in time that fateful night at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field transformed Walcott from a symbol of his sport’s relentless but mostly unrewarded grinders to instant-legend status. At 37, he not only had become the oldest man to that point ever to win boxing’s most prestigious prize (a distinction he would hold for 43 years, until 45-year-old George Foreman dethroned WBA/IBF champ Michael Moorer on another incredible, bolt-from-the-blue knockout, on Nov. 5, 1994, in Las Vegas), but the patron saint of fighters with iron wills and vision quests they would see through to completion or die trying.

In a story that appeared on this site on July 16, 2018, I ranked Walcott’s blasting of Charles No. 1 on my personal list of all-time one-punch knockouts, which I described thusly:

Entering the seventh round, Walcott led the scoring, in rounds, by 5-1, 4-1-1 and 3-3. Moving forward while rocking side to side, the 9-1 underdog dipped to his left and exploded upward with a thunderous left hook that caught Charles flush on the jaw. The semi-conscious champion pitched forward onto his face.

It is difficult to encapsulate the full scope of such a historically significant and aesthetically flawless a punch into any inanimate object, like a statue, but sculptor Carl LeVotch perhaps came as close as is humanly possible with his eight-foot bronze of Walcott, which was unveiled this past Saturday during a celebratory day of festivities in Camden, N.J., the hometown of the beloved fighter whose real name was Arnold Cream. The unveiling took place along the Camden waterfront, at the Wiggins Park Promenade, following a 3½-mile parade that featured marching bands and other attractions.

For medical reasons I was unable to attend an event I had very much been looking forward to, but the spirit of the occasion – and the 20-year march from concept to completion for those who wanted the Walcott/Cream statue to be more than just another item on someone’s wish list – closely mirrored the ring career of an inspirational figure who fueled the imaginations of so many attendees. Chief among those is Vincent Cream, 61, the grandson of Jersey Joe who spearheaded the drawn-out efforts to raise the $185,000 required to fund the project, which is still not entirely paid for.

“It was an overwhelming moment,” Vincent Cream told Boxing Writers Association of America president Joseph Santoliquito, who covered the event for another media outlet. “Everyone who never met my grandfather met him today.

“No one ever dies. He’s here with us. When I look at his statue, and you see who’s gathered here – white, black, old, young, everyone coming together – his timelessness has come. To persevere for 23 years, it represents who my grandfather was as a man and his fortitude as a person. When you have a dream, it’s important to set goals between the dream and the achievement. Every time I brought up the idea of a statue, people would tell me, `Good luck with that.’ That was 10 years ago. We achieved it, a little at a time – like my grandfather.”

LeVotch, with whom I have long been acquainted, has nearly as long a track record in his boxing-related field as did Walcott, who took his ring nom de guerre in tribute to Joe “The Barbados Demon” Walcott, a welterweight champion whose career ended in 1911. The original fighting Walcott was a hero to young Arnold Cream’s father, Joseph Cream, who came to New Jersey from the British Virgin Islands. I first met LeVotch for a story I did on him that appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News editions of July 2, 2003, when he took me through the process of his creation of a 17-inch cold-cast bronze statuette he called The Spirit of Boxing, reproductions of which are owned by any number of boxing notables. His goal, he told me, was to create something more meaningful than the statue of the fictional heavyweight champion Rocky Balboa that was used as a movie prop for 1982’s Rocky III.

“It doesn’t move me,” LeVotch said. “A true piece of art is capable of moving the man on the street. It is an instrument to inspire. It’s been that way since antiquity. I have a great affinity for Rodin (that would be Auguste Rodin, the French sculptor, not Rodan, the Japanese movie monster). His The Thinker is a sacrament, if you will, of an inner grace.

“I’m one of those guys who believe boxing is a metaphor for life. I also think of it as an art form. Those who do it well are, in their own way, artists.”

In addition to his sculpted improvements of several awards the BWAA presents as its annual dinner, LeVotch’s other life-sized commemoration of a boxing life, that of former middleweight champion Joey Giardello (real name: Carmine Tilelli), was unveiled on May 21, 2011, in Giardelli’s old South Philadelphia neighborhood. Like Walcott, Giardelli – father of four sons, one of whom was born with Down Syndrome – was more than just a fighter, something LeVotch sought to convey through his art.

“I saw Joey not only as a terrific fighter, but as a father who cared deeply for his disabled son,” Carl told me a decade ago. “How do you convey all these different sides of a man in coagulated metal? My challenge was to capture the essence of the man as well as a physical likeness.”

Brought to tears by LeVotch’s artistic interpretation of who her husband was and what he represented in meaningful ways that extended beyond the ring, Rosalie Tilelli said, “I’m overwhelmed. I call Carl LeVotch my Michelangelo.”

Jersey Joe Walcott was demonstrably statue-worthy even if he hadn’t moved on from boxing to a full and rich later phase of his life in which he served as the first African-American elected sheriff of Camden County, serving from 1971 to ’74, and chairman of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board until 1984. His wife, Riletta Cream, also was committed to public service as a city educator and county freeholder from 1994 to 2011.

But it is Walcott the boxer who set records inside the ropes that almost certainly will never be matched, much less surpassed. Fighting in an era when there was just one heavyweight champion, not a bunch of alphabet title-holders, he fought eight times for boxing’s grandest prize, going 2-6 with two losses apiece to Joe Louis and Charles before he broke through against Charles with that museum-quality left hook in Pittsburgh. Five of those title bouts, incredibly, were in succession. There are more than a few historians who believe Jersey Joe should have won on points in his first go at Louis, in which he floored the “Brown Bomber” in the first and fourth rounds. No wonder Walcott’s most ardent fans, even those in his own family, were hesitant to risk seeing him come up short again when he again squared off against Charles in the home stadium of baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I was 12 when my dad won the heavyweight title and there he is, so real,” Ruth Cream, now 82, told Santoliquito at the unveiling. “I remember that night like it happened clearly. I was the only one downstairs at our house with reporters in our living room watching the fight on TV. Everyone else was upstairs in bed because they didn’t want to watch it.

insert

“After my father won, I remember running up the stairs to tell my family, `Daddy won!’”

After a successful defense on points against familiar foe Charles, Walcott, well ahead on points through 12 of the scheduled 15 rounds, was dethroned by Rocky Marciano on a 13th-round knockout on Sept. 23, 1952, in Philadelphia. He fought just once more, this time being stopped in one round by Marciano, before hanging up his gloves with a 51-18-2 (32) record. He was part of the 1990 charter class of inductees into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Camden officials are hoping their hometown hero’s statue becomes something of a tourist attraction, as is the case with the Rocky statue at the base of the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum and the 12-foot Joe Frazier statue, created by sculptor Stephen Layne and located outside the Xfinity Live! bar/restaurant in the South Philly sports complex. As splendid as it is, the Giardello statue draws fewer eyes given its location in a less-bustling and attraction-loaded neighborhood.

But in a metropolitan area where bronze tributes to sports stars of the four local professional franchises (Eagles, Phillies, 76ers and Flyers) are fairly commonplace, the statues of Frazier, Giardello, Walcott and, yes, Stallone are at least a signal that boxing, for so long Philadelphia’s fifth pro sport and a veritable cradle of champions, is recognizing a part of its past that is worthy of being preserved and treasured.

Editor’s Note: Bernard Fernandez, named to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the Observer category with the class of 2020, was the recipient of numerous awards for writing excellence during his 28-year career as a sportswriter for the Philadelphia Daily News. Fernandez’s first book, “Championship Rounds,” a compendium of previously published material, was released in May of last year. The sequel, “Championship Rounds, Vol. 2,” with a foreword by Jim Lampley, arrives this fall. The book can be ordered through Amazon.com, in hard or soft cover, and other book-selling websites and outlets.

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Weekend Boxing Recap: The Mikey Garcia Stunner and More

Arne K. Lang

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Weekend Boxing Recap: The Mikey Garcia Stunner and More

Boxing was all over the map on the third Saturday of October with many of the shows pulled together on short notice as promoters took advantage of relaxed COVID constraints to return to business as usual. When the smoke cleared, a monster upset in Fresno overshadowed the other events.

Mikey Garcia, a shoo-in to make the Hall of Fame, was on the wrong side of it. Spain’s Sandor Martin, in his USA debut, won a well-deserved decision over Garcia at a Triple-A baseball park in Fresno.

Garcia, a former four-division belt-holder, was 40-1 coming in with his only loss coming at the hands of Errol Spence. Martin, a 28-year-old southpaw, brought a nice record with him from Europe (38-2) but with only 13 wins coming by way of stoppage it was plain that he wasn’t a heavy hitter. His only chance was to out-box Garcia and that seemed far-fetched.

But Martin did exactly that, counter-punching effectively to win a 10-round majority decision. Two judges had it 97-93 with the third turning in a 95-95 tally.

Neither Garcia nor Martin were natural welterweights. The bout was fought at a catch-weight of 145 pounds. After the bout, the Spaniard indicated a preference for dropping back to 140 where enticing opportunities await.

There was another upset, albeit a much milder one, in the co-feature where Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Gonzalez improved to 25-3-1 (14) while shearing the WBO world flyweight title from the shoulders of Mexicali’s Elwin Soto (19-2).

Soto was making his fourth defense of the title and rode into the match with a 17-fight winning streak. Gonzalez, a southpaw, had formerly fought for the WBO world flyweight title, getting stopped in seven rounds by Kosei Tanaka in Nagoya, Japan.

One of the judges favored Soto 116-112, but he was properly out-voted by his colleagues who had it 116-112 the other way.

Riga, Latvia

The first major fight on Saturday took place in Riga, Latvia, where hometown hero Mairis Briedis successfully defended his IBF cruiserweight title with a third-round stoppage of Germany’s Artur Mann who was on the deck three times before the match was halted at the 1:54 mark.

Briedis (28-1, 20 KOs) was making his first start since dismantling KO artist Yuniel Dorticos in the finals of season two of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament. He scored the first of his three knockdowns in the waning seconds of round two when he deposited Mann (17-2) on the canvas with a straight right hand.

Although boosters of fast-rising WBO champ Lawrence Okolie would disagree, the Latvian is widely regarded as the best cruiserweight in the world. His only setback came when he lost a narrow decision to current WBA/IBF/WBO heavyweight champ Oleksandr Usyk in this ring in January of 2018. Now 36 years old, Briedis has yet to appear in a main event outside Europe. That’s undoubtedly about to change and a rematch with Usyk is well within the realm of possibility.

Newcastle, England

Chris Eubank Jr, whose fight two weeks ago in London with late sub Anati Muratov was cancelled at the 11th hour when Muratov failed his medical exam, was added to this Matchroom card and his bout with Wanik Awdijan became the de facto main event. A 26-year-old German, born in Armenia, Awdijan was 28-1 and had won 21 straight (against very limited opposition), but he was no match for Eubank Jr who broke him down with body shots, likely breaking his ribs and forcing him to quit on his stool after five frames.

Eubank Jr, 32, improved to 31-2 (23) His only defeats came at the hands of former world title-holder George Groves and BJ Saunders. He dedicated this fight to his late brother Sebastian Eubank who died in July while swimming in the Persian Gulf.

In other bouts, Hughie Fury, the cousin of Tyson Fury, stayed relevant in the heavyweight division with a stoppage of well-traveled German Christian Hammer and Savannah Marshall successfully defended her WBO world middleweight title with a second-round TKO of Lolita Muzeya.

Akin to Eubank-Awdijan, the Fury-Hammer fight also ended with the loser bowing out after five frames. A biceps injury allegedly caused Hammer to say “no mas,” but Fury, in what was arguably his career-best performance, was well ahead on the cards.

The Marshall-Muzeya fight was a battle of unbeatens, but Muzeya’s 16-0 record was suspicious as the Zambian had never fought outside the continent of Africa. She came out blazing, but Marshall, who improved to 11-0 (9) had her number and retained her title.

Brooklyn

In the featured bout of a TrillerVerz show at Barclays Center, Long Island’s Cletus Seldin, the Hebrew Hammer, knocked out William Silva in the seventh round. It was the fifth-straight win for the 35-year-old Seldin, a junior welterweight who was making his first start in 20 months.

Silva, a 34-year-old Brazilian who fights out of Florida, brought a 28-3 record. His previous losses had come at the hands of Felix Verdejo, Teofimo Lopez, and Arnold Barboza Jr. Seldin improved to 26-1 (22 KOs).

In other bouts, junior welterweight Petros Ananyan, a Brooklyn-based Armenian, improved to 16-2-2 (7) with a 10-round majority decision over local fighter Daniel Gonzalez (20-3-1) and Will Madera of Albany, NY, scored a mild upset when he stopped Jamshidbek Najmitdinov who was pulled out after five rounds with an apparent shoulder injury.

Najmitdinov, from Uzbekistan, was making his U.S. debut but he brought a 17-1 record blemished only by former world title-holder Viktor Postol. Madera improved to 17-1-3.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholand / Matchroom

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Emanuel Navarrete Retains WBO Featherweight Title in a San Diego Firefight

David A. Avila

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SAN DIEGO-WBO featherweight titlist Emanuel Navarrete won by unanimous decision over Joet Gonzalez in a slugfest that had fans cheering nonstop on Friday night. Fans were mesmerized by the savagery.

More than 2,000 fans saw Mexico City’s Navarrete (35-1, 29 KOs) and Southern California’s Gonzalez (24-2, 14 KOs) bounce brutal shots off each other for 12 successive rounds at Pechanga Sports Arena.

Both Navarrete and Gonzalez were about equal in height with the champion maybe a slight taller, but not by much. As soon as the first bell rang the two featherweights opened up in furious fashion.

Gonzalez was making his second attempt to grab a world title. His first attempt fell short a year ago. He was eager to atone for the defeat by clobbering Navarrete. Body shots were the weapon of choice.

The Mexican fighter Navarrete was accustomed to battling shorter fighters, this time the two were equal in size and in fury. Blows were flying in bunches and by the third round Gonzalez suffered a cut on his right cheek.

At several points Navarrete would connect with a solid blow and eagerly seek to finish the fight. Each time it happened Gonzalez would fight back even more furiously and beat back the champions attacks.

Gonzalez also connected with big shots and moved in for the kill only find Navarrete take a stand and fire back. Neither was able to truly gain a significant edge. After 12 rounds of nonstop action the decision was given to the judges. One scored it 118-110, two others saw it 116-112 all for Navarrete.

Fans were pleased by the decision and even more pleased by the breath-taking action they had witnessed.

Welterweights

Local fighter Giovani Santillan (28-0, 15 KOs) remained undefeated by unanimous decision after 10 rounds versus Tijuana’s Angel Ruiz (17-2, 12 KOs). The two southpaws were evenly matched.

San Diego’s Santillan was able to outwork Ruiz in almost every round. Though Ruiz has heavy hands he was not able to hurt Santillan even with uppercuts. It was clear very early in the fight that Santillan was the more technical and busier of the two. No knockdowns were scored.

After 10 rounds two judges scored it 100-90 for Santillan and a third saw it 99-91.

Other Results

Lindolfo Delgado (14-0, 12 KOs) battered and knocked down fellow Mexican Juan Garcia Mendez (21-5-2) in the last round of an 8-round super lightweight bout, but could not score the knockout win.

Delgado, a Mexican Olympian, was the quicker and stronger fighter yet discovered Garcia Mendez has a solid chin. All three judges scored it 80-71 for Delgado.

Puerto Rico’s Henry Lebron (14-0, 9 KOs) defeated Manuel Rey Rojas (21-6) by decision after eight rounds in a lightweight match.

Javier Martinez (5-0, 2 KOs) soundly defeated Darryl Jones (4-3-1) by decision after six rounds in a middleweight clash. Jones was tough.

Las Vegas bantamweight Floyd Diaz (3-0) knocked down Tucson’s Jose Ramirez (1-1) in the first round but was unable to end the fight early. Diaz won by decision.

Heavyweight Antonio Mireles (1-0) knocked out Demonte Randle (2-2) at 2:07 of the first round.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank for Getty Images

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