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.
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