On official fight posters and other promotional material for the Julio Cesar Chavez-Meldrick Taylor fight Saturday night at the Las Vegas Hilton, one can't miss boxing's biggest zero.
It almost jumps out at you, does Chavez's record: 68-0. But to some in boxing, Chavez's great record isn't quite what it seems. There should be an asterisk, they claim, and the disclaimer: includes overturning of 1981 disqualification.
It's difficult to determine exactly what happened or why, but in 1981, when Chavez was still fighting in his hometown of Culiacan, Mexico, someone decided to tamper with history.
On April 3 of that year, when he was 11-0, Chavez fought Miguel Ruiz at Culiacan. At or shortly after the bell ending the first round, Chavez apparently knocked out Ruiz. The referee declared Chavez the loser on a first-round disqualification.
Four years later, that's just how it wound up in the Ring record book, which shows it: "L disq 1." But other editions?
--According to the 1983 and 1984 Ring books, the fight never happened. It was simply deleted.
--In the 1986-87 Ring book, the date of Chavez-Ruiz was changed to Oct. 13, 1980, and the result shows Chavez the winner: "KO 1."
None of this is meant to lessen Chavez's achievements. He really is a marvelous fighter. He's legitimately 16-0 in championship fights and might be, as his people claim, the best fighter in the world, pound for pound.
It's simply presented to illustrate the fact that record keeping in boxing is the worst in sports. Many believe that boxing needs a designated primary record-keeping data bank.
In this case, at least three boxing record keepers list Chavez as 67-1.
Dick Mastro of Los Angeles has been keeping boxing records for decades. His theory is that Chavez's loss was expunged to preserve a great young prospect's unbeaten record.
"Someone obviously decided that it would be a shame to leave that loss on his record so it was decided to just get rid of it," Mastro said.
"I've carried that loss on his record ever since--it's the promoters and the press that keep calling him unbeaten."
Pugilato, the Italian world boxing record book, also shows Chavez at 67-1, according to Mastro.
Dean Lohuis, another Southern California boxing statistician, lists Chavez at 68-0.
"No matter what the motives, the Culiacan Boxing Commission did officially reverse the outcome of that fight," Lohuis said. "If the California commission reversed an outcome here, no matter what the reason, I'd treat it the same way."
Bob Yalen of ABC's boxing staff was assigned several years back to look into that 1981 fight.
"It was officially overturned the next day by the Culiacan Commission and changed to a KO-1 for Chavez," Yalen said. "The official reason was that the commission ruled Chavez had not hit the guy after the bell, as the referee ruled. I also found out that Chavez's manager, (the late) Ramon Felix, was on the Culiacan commission at the time.
"Whatever you want to make of it, the result was officially overturned so we called him unbeaten when we televised one of his fights."
Mastro said that no commission can overturn a referee's judgment call. He cites a 1952 New York State Supreme Court case involving a Joey Giardello fight. According to Mastro, the court ruled that the New York State Athletic Commission had no authority to overturn a referee's judgment call.
"That's an important legal concept in boxing, that you can't overturn a referee's judgment call," Mastro said. "And its intent is to keep politics out of boxing."
Ralph Citro of Blackwood, N.Y., who publishes an annual boxing record book, Computer Boxing Update, calls Chavez 67-1.
"The referee disqualified Chavez in that fight, and that's how I've always carried it," he said. "I got it from a very good Culiacan source that that reversal was wrong, that it should never have happened."
Assault charges pending against middleweight champion Michael Nunn were dropped in Davenport, Iowa, last week. The International Boxing Federation champion was arrested and charged with simple assault after an Oct. 1 street brawl in his hometown. Nunn's mother, Madies, was also charged with assault after striking an officer on the head with her shoe. She pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of simple assault and was fined $100.
Westminster welterweight Ernie Chavez meets Javier Moreno of Los Angeles March 26 at the Irvine Marriott. . . . Official figures show that the Jorge Paez-Troy Dorsey show in Las Vegas Feb. 4 drew 2,961 and a gate of $187,319.50. . . . Evander Holyfield is the No. 1 contender and former champion--is anyone used to saying that yet?--Mike Tyson was ranked No. 2 in the IBF's first post-Tokyo heavyweight ratings. The IBF immediately recognized Buster Douglas as champion after he had knocked out Tyson, whereas the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Assn. waffled for days.
Let's Get Serious Dept.: Lloyd Honeyghan's manager, Mickey Duff, after welterweight Mark Breland had knocked out Honeyghan in London recently: "Breland is the most underestimated puncher in the world. Pound for pound, he's better than Mike Tyson." . . . WBA light-heavyweight champion Virgil Hill, who gets little respect from the critics, makes the ninth defense of his championship April 29 against Tyrone Frazier in Las Vegas.
Forum matchmaker Tony Curtis wants to stage a heavyweight doubleheader in June or July, matching Tony Tucker and Tim Witherspoon in one 10-round bout, and Michael Dokes and Renaldo Snipes in the other. . . . Steve Crossen, the WBC treasurer who resigned in protest over WBC chief Jose Sulaiman's inability to figure out who had won the Douglas-Tyson fight, said it's time for the U. S. to establish a federal boxing commission. He also described Sulaiman as "a man who, in his strong desire to please everybody, fails to exercise sound judgment sometimes, and that's what happened in Tokyo."
Wilfred Benitez is making a comeback at 31. The former three-time champion knocked out Ariel Conde in a middleweight bout at Phoenix Thursday. . . . A New York federal judge consolidated the lawsuits filed by Donald Trump and Don King against Douglas and Steve Wynn and scheduled a trial to begin next month. Trump and King say they have promotional rights to Douglas' next fight, but the heavyweight champion has signed to fight for Wynn at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.
New Faces Dept.: Keep an eye on Mario Gaston, the Argentine super-welterweight boxing in the Forum's $225,000 tournament. When he defeated Roland Williams Thursday, he was the most polished talent on the card.
Warfare Dept.: Things are getting frosty between Curtis, the Forum matchmaker, and Dan Goossen, who manages Nunn and two talented teens, Gabriel and Rafael Ruelas. Curtis said Goossen rejected two proposed opponents for Rafael Ruelas scant days before the Forum's show on Thursday. "We're trying to work with them (Ten Goose Boxing) but it's difficult," Curtis said. Goossen replied: "If they're knocking me behind my back, I must be doing something right."
Meanwhile, the Ruelas brothers have been signed to fight on the undercard of Nunn's title defense April 14 against veteran Marlon Starling at Las Vegas. Junior lightweight Gabriel, who ran his record to 21-0 Thursday night at the Forum with a six-round decision over Leonardo Chango Moreno of Los Angeles, will fight former U. S. Boxing Assn. champion Jeff Franklin in a scheduled 10-rounder on that undercard. Rafael, who improved to 15-0 with 13 knockouts by stopping Antonio Sanchez of Mexico Thursday night, will fight in an eight-round bout against an opponent to be named.