Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Meldrick Taylor (1st meeting)
1990-03-17 : Meldrick Taylor 139¾ lbs lost to Julio Cesar Chavez 139½ lbs by TKO at 2:58 in round 12 of 12
- Location: Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
- Referee: Richard Steele
- Judge: Dave Moretti 107-102
- Judge: Chuck Giampa 104-105
- Judge: Jerry Roth 108-101
This was one of the most anticipated bouts in boxing at the time. Many people were expecting it to be the "fight of the year." Chavez was an undefeated rising star, who had the longest reigning title streak of an undefeated boxer in over 78 years. Meldrick Taylor was a young and fast fighter, also undefeated at the time.
Chavez and Taylor engaged in a high-paced action fight. Taylor had built a large lead on two of the three scorecards going into the last round, although Chavez landed the more crushing blows. With 28 seconds left on the clock, Chavez badly staggered Taylor with a crushing right hand. Taylor moved towards Chavez and took a sickening left hook to the body and a left uppercut. Taylor mauled Chavez into the ropes, and Chavez stepped to the side and landed a vicious left uppercut, followed by a crushing right hand that sent Taylor down. Taylor got up at the count of five and seemed to some observers be okay, even though he didn't respond when referee Richard Steele asked him if he was okay. Steele waved off the fight with two seconds to go.
This fight is one of the most controversial boxing matches in history. Many fans thought that Steele shouldn't have stopped the fight, as there was not enough time for Chavez to do any further damage, while other fans argued that the amount of time left in a fight is irrelevant.
Steele was interviewed by HBO television commentator Larry Merchant after the fight and asked why he stopped it. Steele said he didn't know how much time was left in the fight and that he was doing his job--protecting a hurt fighter.
Dr. Flip Homansky, who examined Taylor after the fight, said, "Meldrick suffered a facial fracture, he was urinating pure blood, his face was grotesquely swollen...this was a kid who was truly beaten up to the face, the body, and the brain."
Despite demand for an immediate rematch, Taylor felt making the 140-pound limit weakened him, and decided to move up in weight. Chavez didn't want to leave his weight division at junior welterweight, where he felt comfortable. Thus. the rematch didn't occur until four and a half years later.
Named Ring Magazine Fight of the Year. This fight was also named by Ring Magazine as Fight of the Decade.