Forgotten Legends: Jesus Chavez

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By: Steve Gallegos

The life of a prize fighter has many up’s and downs. There is the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, as well as the chance that they may not come out of the ring the same as they came in. One fighter who can say they have experienced all of these was former Jr. Lightweight and Lightweight champion JesusEl MatadorChavez.

Chavez was an all action, come forward, aggressive fighter who most of the time was never in a bad fight as he mixed it up with some of the best in his division during the late 90’s and 2000’s. Chavez was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and was later raised in Chicago, IL. At age 16, Chavez decided to take part in an armed robbery and by doing so, he spent four years in prison and was deported back to Mexico. He would then come back to the United States illegally and resided in Austin, TX where he would begin his boxing career.

Chavez turned pro in August of 1994 and would go 22-1 over the next four years and would claim the NABF Jr. Lightweight title in the process. 1997 would be a big year for Chavez as he began to get some national exposure. In August of 1997, He scored an impressive fifth round TKO over Wilfredo Negron on USA’s Tuesday Night Fights and he would follow it up three months later with another impressive TKO win over former world champion Troy Dorsey, on the Lennox Lewis vs Andrew Golota Pay Per View undercard.

He was being handled by Main Events and the future couldn’t have looked more brighter; however he would suffer a huge setback. In late 1997, Chavez was once again deported back to Mexico and it would have a huge effect on his boxing career over the next three years. While living in Mexico, Chavez would continue to fight as he would go 10-0 from 1998-2000. His story and popularity as a fighter encouraged many sports writers and politicians to lobby for Chavez to receive a Visa. One of those politiicans who backed Chavez was then Texas Govenor and future U.S. President George W. Bush.

Finally after being away from the U.S. for three years, Chavez was granted a Visa to work and live in the United States. Upon his return to the U.S., he would go 3-0 and would earn a shot at a world title against super featherweight champion Floyd Mayweather. They met on 11/10/01 in San Francisco for the WBC super featherweight title. Chavez fought a spirited effort and took it to Mayweather for 9 rounds until his corner threw in the towel after the 9th. Despite the disappointing loss, Chavez continued to fight on and after winning his next four bouts, he was back in line for another title shot as he faced the very tough Sirimongkol Singwancha of Thailand.

They met on 08/15/03 at the Convention Center in Austin, TX and it was for the WBC super featherweight title. Chavez didn’t disappoint his hometown fans as he won a convincing 12 round unanimous decision. He was now a world champion. His reign however was a short one as he would lose his title six months later to Mexican legend Erik Morales.

As he did against Mayweather, Chavez fought a spirited fight as he rocked Morales early and looked very close to taking him out. He also showed a lot of heart and guts in this fight as he was dropped twice in the second round and rose to his feet and fought hard. He also suffered both shoulder and knee injuries during the bout and fought most of the bout while injured.

The injuries would sideline Chavez for 15 months and he returned to the ring on 05/28/05 as he fought an entertaining brawl with former champion Carlos Hernandez on the undercard of Julio Cesar Chavez’s farewell bout in Los Angeles, CA. This win would put Chavez back in line for another title shot against lightweight champion Leavander Johnson. They met on 09/17/05 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas for the IBF lightweight title.

The bout was one of three bouts on a big HBO Pay Per View co headlined by Marco Antonio Barerra and Shane Mosley. Chavez came out throwing bombs from the opening bell. Johnson, who was a slick boxer puncher, wasn’t able to weather the onslaught brought by Chavez. “El Matador” pummelled Johnson for 11 rounds before referee Tony Weeks stopped the bout. Many observers at ringside felt that the bout should have been stopped sooner. In either case, Jesus Chavez was once again a world champion, however there was very little to celebrate.

After Leavander Johnson went back to his dressing room, he collapsed and was rushed to the hospital where he had emergency surgery for swelling and bleeding on the brain. After being placed in a coma, Johnson died 5 days later. When a fighter dies inside the ring, it can also leave a huge crushing burden on the other fighter and most times that fighter doesn’t recover mentally. Despite the tragedy, the family of Leavander Johnson encouraged Jesus Chavez to continue fighting.

The tragedy would sideline Chavez for 17 months. He returned to the ring on 02/03/07 when he made his first defense of his title against Julio Diaz. Chavez would go down in the third round from the result of a knee injury and was counted out. He clearly was not the same fighter that he was before. It was pretty much the end of the road at the top for Jesus Chavez. He would go 2-4 from 2008-2010 as he became more of a gatekeeper in the lightweight division.

His record as a professional stands at 44-8 with 30 KO’s. He faced tremendous obstacles in and out of the ring and he was able to overcome most of those obstacles, except for the tragedy of the Leavander Johnson fight. Would his already stellar career have been longer and more successful had that tragedy in Las Vegas not have happened? Like many fighters in the Forgotten Legends” series, we are left with the recurring question “What If?”

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Forgotten Legends: John ‘The Eastern Beast’ Brown

John Brown

By: Steve Gallegos

There are some fighters who train hard, fight tough and for some reason or another cannot get to that next level and become world champion. That was the case for former Jr. Lightweight and Lightweight contender John The Eastern Beast” Brown.

Brown was a unique person in and out of the ring. Standing at only 5’4, Brown was a relentless, all action fighter who was in his opponent’s face for every second of every minute of every round. John Brown was born and raised in Atlantic City, NJ. Life growing up for John Brown was very rough as his brother was murdered and he was raised in 12 foster homes. Brown was a very angry person growing up, however he knew there was a beautiful world outside the dark, harsh world he had experienced and he was determined to find it. He would find it in boxing.

Brown would turn pro in 1989 and would go 18-4 over the next nine years, while mixing it up with top notch fighters such as Calvin Grove, Lamar Murphy and Jesus Chavez. Outside the ring, Brown would toughen himself up by living homeless on the streets while eating land crabs and cockroaches.

1998 would be a good year for Brown as he began to get national exposure and began his quest to a world title. He would face WBU Jr. Lightweight champion Angel Manfredy on 09/22/98 at Madison Square Garden. The bout was nationally televised on TNT’s short lived boxing series called “Title Night”. Although Brown would come up short and lose a unanimous decision, he was in Manfredy’s face all night and would frustrate him throughout the bout with his rough, inside fighting style. After the Manfredy fight, Brown was back in the gym and one month and two days later, he was back in the ring as he faced former world champion Gabriel Ruelas.

They met on 10/24/98 at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ and it was part of an HBO Boxing After Dark doubleheader. Brown was a late substitution for Jesse James Leija, who was originally scheduled to face Ruelas that night. Brown battered Ruelas all night long en route to an 8th round TKO. This performance would set up a world title shot against “Sugar” Shane Mosley.

They met on 04/17/99 at the Fantasy Spring’s Casino in Indio, CA for the IBF Lightweight championship. Brown was able to frustrate Mosley at times and Mosley had difficulty with Brown’s height and wasn’t able to land many clean shots. In the eighth round, Mosley was able to catch and rock Brown with hard combinations which forced the ringside doctor to stop the fight in between rounds.

Brown would bounce back from this loss with a convincing 10 round unanimous decison victory over Francisco Cruz just four months later. This would set up another world title shot against Diego Corrales. They met on 12/04/99 in Lincoln City, OR for the IBF Jr Lightweight championship.
Brown showed his toughness once again in a game effort. During the fight, Corrales landed a hard right hand that didn’t move Brown. Corrales then said to Brown, “man you are a beast”, and Brown then looked at him and growled. The end result would be a 12 round unanimous decision win for Corrales.

Brown would begin the new millenium by going 2-0 with a No Contest in his next three fights, which included a convincing 12 round decision over unbeaten Robbie Peden. This win would set up another crack at a world title as he faced Steve Forbes. They met on 12/03/00 in Miami, FL for the vacant IBF Jr Lightweight championship. Brown boxed well against the very skilled Steve Forbes and was getting the better of him in most of the exchanges. As the bout was heading into the later stages of the fight, it appeared that John Brown was on his was to finally winning a world title, however in the eighth round, Brown began bleeding badly from his left ear. Referee Jorge Alonso called time and called the ringside doctor over to inspect the ear. The doctor determined that the eardrum was punctured, forcing the fight to be stopped.

It was an eighth round TKO win for Steve Forbes, however John Brown was ahead on all three judge’s scorecards and was on his way to winning the fight. Nine months later, Brown and Forbes met again, however this time Forbes would win a 12 round unanimous decision. It was pretty much the end of the road for John Brown at the top.

He would not challenge for a world title again and would go 1-10-2 over the next 10 years. His record as a professional stands at 24-19 with five KO’s. He was a special breed of fighter who always showed up in top shape and ready to fight any time he stepped into the ring. He mixed it up with some of the best fighters of his era in their prime and he always gave them their money’s worth. It’s unfortunate he wasn’t able to get to that next level and get that title called “Champion”.
John Brown

Canelo: “Floyd is a Different Kind of Fighter and this is a Different Kind of Fight”

LAS VEGAS (September 3, 2013) – If Canelo Alvarez is awestruck by the prospect of trying to do something that no one else has done – defeat pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather -he doesn’t show it.

Canelo maintained the same cool, calm expression throughout a nine-city press tour to promote “THE ONE: Mayweather vs. Canelo” – the highly anticipated, super welterweight world championship pay-per-view showdown at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, Sept. 14. It was the look of a man who is never hurried and never worried. All business.

Is Canelo “THE ONE?”

Can he succeed where so many other superb boxers have failed?Can he not only be the first fighter to defeat Mayweather, but also the first of Mexican descent?Mayweather’s Mexican foes include such notables as Jose Luis Castillo, Juan Manuel Marquez, Jesus Chavez, Genaro Hernandez and Oscar De La Hoya.

De La Hoya thinks so. De La Hoya lost a split 12-round decision to Mayweather in a record-setting pay-per-view event in 2007. One judge scored it as a victory for De La Hoya. That is as close as anyone has come to dethroning Mayweather in the last decade.

“For one thing, youth is on his side,” De La Hoya said of the 23-year-old Canelo, who hails from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. “But the real advantage will be the intelligence. People will also be surprised with his speed.”

Canelo, a redhead with matinee idol looks, is the No. 1 boxing attraction in Mexico. He is on the cusp of joining the same club as Mexican boxing legends like Carlos Zarate, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales. A victory over Mayweather would cement his legacy as one of the all-time greats in Mexican boxing history.

Canelo said he started watching Mayweather in his fights with Jose Luis Castillo and Diego Corrales in 2001 and 2002. He really took notice when Mayweather fought De La Hoya in 2007.

Who was he rooting for in that match?

“Oscar, of course,” he said with a laugh.

Canelo now has De La Hoya as his mentor. He said he will lean on De La Hoya to get information on what makes Mayweather uncomfortable in the ring. De La Hoya, who had a good strategy against Mayweather, said he will keep repeating three letters to Canelo – J-A-B. It was something De La Hoya couldn’t do consistently because he had a torn left rotator cuff in their fight in 2007.

Canelo won’t be coming in with any such aliments, and if he follows De La Hoya’s advice, he could turn the tables on Mayweather. Plus,Canelo doesn’t believe that he’s too inexperienced for Mayweather at this time.

“I’m very young, but I’m experienced as well,” said Canelo, who has fought in 43 fights (42-0-1 with 30 KO’s). “I’ve been learning the last couple of years. The position that I’m in right now, Mayweather was once in [when Mayweather was learning and growing as a fighter].”

Mayweather has conquered every boxer of Mexican heritage that has been put in front of him. Jesus Chavez, who was 29 at the time that Mayweather upended him for the WBC junior lightweight title, and Castillo, who was 28 when Mayweather twice defeated him for the WBC lightweight title.

Mayweather also defeated Genaro Hernandez for the WBC junior lightweight title; Hernandez retired from boxing after the loss. Mayweather fought Juan Manuel Marquez and dominated him en route to a 12-round decision. He also edged De La Hoya for the WBC 154-pound title, while breaking the pay-per-view record in the history of the sport.

But none of Mayweather’s earlier opponents had the youth, punching power and granite chin that Canelo possesses. Plus,Canelo is naturally bigger than Mayweather and could enter the ring with a 20-pound weight advantage.

Mayweather, who typically campaigns at 147 pounds, chose the bigger Canelo and will fight him at a catch weight of 152 pounds for the second fight in his new contract with SHOWTIME Networks, Inc., and its parent company, CBS Corporation. It certainly makes for an intriguing match, and anything but a gimme for “Money.”

Canelo said he has visualized how he will fight Mayweather, but he knows that whatever his plan is, it must have flexibility.

“Floyd is a different kind of fighter and this is a different kind of fight,” Canelo said. “For every fight there’s a game plan. But that game plan can go out the window in the first round. So you have to have a Plan B and a Plan C. And that is what we’ll work on.”

The conventional wisdom is that Canelo is too inexperienced to defeat the ring-savvy Mayweather, but Canelo points out that he has been fighting professionally since he was 15 years old and most of those 43 fights on his resume (42-0-1, 30 KO’s) were not against low caliber fighters. He has triumphed impressively against former undisputed welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir, future Hall of Famer Shane Mosley, Matthew Hatton, Kermit Cintron and former WBA junior middleweight champion Austin Trout.

Canelo put on a dazzling boxing display against Trout, who was coming off a shocking upset over Miguel Cotto. It was the type of victory that made Mayweather take notice. It also stamped Canelo as more than ready to seriously challenge Mayweather.

“I’m fighting the best. This is my chance to beat the best,” Canelo said. “It’s a chance to go down in history as the first guy to beat Floyd Mayweather.”