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Boxing's Longest Undefeated Run

by Lee Robertson

In recent weeks and months Floyd Mayweather Jr has made repeated reference to his undefeated record of 49 wins. Intimating on several occasions that it equals the ‘world record’ of undefeated former world heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano. The truth, as so often happens in boxing is a completely different story. For the holder of this record, one must look to different shores and to a fighter often over looked when lists of all time greats are compiled.

Julio César Chávez competed professionally from 1980 to 2005. He is considered by acclamation to be the greatest Mexican boxer of all time, but rarely if ever ‘The greatest boxer of all time’ the facts however, provide Chavez with a compelling argument for the ‘Pound for Pound Greatest’ accolade.

El César del Boxeo

Julio César Chávez was born on July 12, 1962 in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, Mexico. His father, Rodolfo Chavez, worked for the railroad, and Julio grew up in an abandoned railroad car with his five sisters and four brothers. Chávez came from a poor family and like the majority of boxers from poor backgrounds became a boxer for money. He began boxing as an amateur at the age of 16 and then moved to Tijuana to pursue a professional career, making his professional debut at the age of 17. Chávez was relentless and prolific in his early professional career, a pattern that he would follow until until retirement.

The Genius of Chávez

In his prime Julio César Chávez was unbeatable.

He combined a peerless technical prowess for attack with a relentless pace and sophisticated two tier approach to defence. To the uninformed watching Chávez at work it could sometimes appear that much of his success was down to luck; Chavez would slip and punch with such amazing timing and mercurial accuracy that it often looked easy, as if he had taken a shot to land a shot – in fact Chavez would parry and block shots while turning and changing direction, this change of direction would allow him to use momentum to land his own shots simultaneously, with increased power; he has balletic footwork, that would allow him to escape and evade situations without panic.

Chavez would always be moving forward, whether it was stalking a dancing opponent or standing toe to toe in the centre of the ring, he always controlled the tempo – and he would set that tempo sky high. Against many opponents (most notably the valiant Meldrick Taylor) the pace would be the telling factor; Chavez had speed and stamina and could wind up the pace up until the last round, he employed this strategy with devastating effect on the worlds boxing elite for over two decades.

Chavez’s signature combination was a jab, left hook to the liver, straight right to the jaw. It was, at its time, the most devastating combination in boxing. Winning him the Super- Featherweight, lightweight, and Light-welterweight titles.

The End of the Winning Streak

After over a decade of dominance and a division record 18 consecutive defences of his light welterweight title, Chávez (87–0) moved up one more weight division to challenge Pernell Whitaker (32–1) for his WBC Welterweight title in September 1993. Since the late 1980s, Chávez stated several times that he had wanted a fight against Whitaker. The Whitaker team, among them Lou Duva, told Ring Magazine that they did not want a fight against Chávez in those days. In the eyes of many experts, Whitaker waited for Chávez to age. The result of the fight was a controversial majority draw, allowing Chávez to remain undefeated with Whitaker retaining his title. This draw was to be the first blemish on what was and still is an unparalleled run of victories.

First Defeat

Chávez’s first professional loss came a year later and was to Frankie Randall on January 29th 1994. Randall an ex con, with a history of substance abuse, was a massive underdog before the bout; however Randall knocked Chávez down for the first time in his career in the 3rd round and went on to win a split decision. Ripping the light WBC welterweight title from the ninety one fight veteran and favourite. Although Chávez was to face and defeat Randall in two rematches, this loss was to signal not just the end of the greatest undefeated run in boxing history, but also the beginning of the decline in Chávez’s boxing genius.

Chávez fought on for over a decade more and won more world titles, but this later period was spattered with defeats and controversial decisions. Retiring in 2005, Chávez can look back on a record that harks to a bygone era of prolific boxing warriors.

Total fights: 115

Wins: 107

Wins by KO: 86

Losses: 6

Draws: 2

For the Record

Chávez is a six-time world champion in three weight divisions and for several years was considered the best boxer in the world, pound for pound. During his career he held the WBC super featherweight title from 1984 to 1987; the WBA lightweight title from 1987 to 1989; the WBC lightweight title from 1988 to 1989; the WBC light welterweight title twice, from 1989 to 1996; and the IBF light welterweight title from 1990 to 1991. Additionally, he held The Ring magazine lightweight title from 1988 to 1989, and the lineal light welterweight title twice, from 1990 to 1996. Chávez was named Fighter of the Year for 1987 and 1990 by the Boxing Writers Association of America and The Ring magazine respectively.

 

Chávez holds world records for;

- Most total successful defences of world titles - 27
- Most world title fight victories - 31
- Most world title fights - 37 (and the second most title defences won by knockout 21, after Joe Louis with 23).
- Longest undefeated streak in boxing history, at 13 years.
- Longest winning streak (without defeat or draw) 87 wins.

Posted: 26th Jul 2017

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