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Randall, Chavez to Do It Again : Boxing: Ex-champion salutes conqueror, but refuses to concede defeat as May 7 rematch is set up.

January 31, 1994|TIM KAWAKAMI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAS VEGAS — Late Saturday night, an hour after the furious fight, two battered boxers sat before a news conference audience that was still struggling with the reality of the moment.

Frankie Randall beat Julio Cesar Chavez.

How does anybody explain that?

"I always knew I had talent, I always knew I was a great fighter," said Randall, 32, the new World Boxing Council super-lightweight champion. "I just didn't have the opportunities. This is one of the moments I had to prove it, it didn't matter who I fought.

"Chavez is the one who happened to take the challenge."

Randall, who almost retired in 1987 after a second-round knockout loss to Primo Ramos, has already agreed to a rematch May 7 at the MGM.

But Saturday night, both men looked haggard and beaten--especially Chavez, who has gone through wars before but never has the result been so visible on his face.

For 12 crackling rounds, using a variance of what Pernell Whitaker did to Chavez last September, Randall fired jabs into Chavez's face, then lashed him with heavy counterpunches every time Chavez lunged toward him.

Both men scored heavily with brutal power, but Chavez was the only one to hit the canvas in a stunning 11th-round moment that brought the MGM hotel crowd to near-silence.

"We were both throwing hard, sharp, crisp punches," said Randall, whose most impressive fight before Saturday was a knockout of Edwin Rosario. "My right hand is pretty sharp; (I) caught him with several earlier in the fight. It was that punch that just happened to get there before he got off what he wanted to get off.

"I knew I had to keep stepping it up because he was stepping it up. If I didn't step it up he would always come in. I had to keep on going, keep on going."

The knockdown happened about a minute after referee Richard Steele penalized Chavez a second time for low blows. Without the two penalty deductions, Chavez would have won a split decision.

Randall, using wisdom that eluded Meldrick Taylor in his 1990 12th-round knockout loss to Chavez, kept moving throughout the final round, having faith that the judges would not be overly biased toward Chavez. He was right, winning a tight, split-decision victory.

"I would've accepted whatever came out," said Randall, who is from Morristown, Tenn. "I fought a hell of a fight, a hell of a person, a hell of a champion. I showed God and the world I can fight."

Chavez, who mocked Whitaker after their controversial fight, saluted Randall.

"I respect Frankie Randall tremendously," Chavez said. "He took a lot of punches. And it certainly surprised me when I hit the canvas."

Interestingly, Chavez, who many believe was saved from defeat only by Steele's sudden stoppage of the Taylor fight and who had a draw handed to him last September against Whitaker when Whitaker clearly was the dominant fighter, protested both Steele's actions and the scoring late Saturday.

"I am sorry--he fought an excellent fight--but out of 12 rounds, he won three," Chavez said.

"I will see everyone the weekend of May 5. I have lost the battle but not the war."

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