Esteban De Jesús

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Name: Esteban De Jesus
Alias: Vita
Hometown: Carolina, Puerto Rico
Died: 1989-05-12 (Age:37)
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 164cm
Reach: 170cm
Pro Boxer: Record
Amateur Boxer: Record

Manager and Trainer: Gregorio Benitez

Professional Career

De Jesús defeats Roberto Duran in 1972.
  • De Jesús defeated Roberto Duran by a 10-round unanimous decision in a non-title bout on November 17, 1972. Duran entered the fight with a record of 31-0 and was the reigning WBA lightweight champion.
  • On March 16, 1974, De Jesús fought Duran for the WBA lightweight title and was knocked out in the 11th round.
  • Antonio Cervantes defeated De Jesús by a 15-round unanimous decision to successfully defend the WBA junior welterweight title on May 17, 1975.
  • De Jesús defeated Guts Ishimatsu by a 15-round unanimous decision to win the WBC lightweight title on May 8, 1976.
  • After three successful title defenses, De Jesús fought a rubber match with Duran to unify the WBC and WBA lightweight titles on January 21, 1978. Duran knocked De Jesús out in the 12th round.
  • In his final bout, De Jesús fought Saoul Mamby for the WBC super lightweight title on July 7, 1980, and was stopped in the 13th round.

Minor & Regional Titles

Prison & Death

On Thanksgiving Day in 1980, De Jesús was on his way to a family holiday celebration when he became involved in a traffic dispute with another driver, 18-year-old Roberto Cintron Gonzalez. De Jesús got out of his car and shot Gonzalez in the head with a .25 caliber pistol. Gonzalez died four days later.

On May 13, 1981, De Jesús was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. While locked up, he turned to religion and became a minister.

De Jesús blamed the incident on cocaine use. "I injected myself with it," he said during a 1989 interview. "It hit me very hard. I felt the reaction very badly. Then I left in my wife's car." De Jesús claimed he didn't know he had killed a person. "My wife told me that I had killed someone," he said.

De Jesús started using drugs early in his boxing career. He began by smoking marijuana, then snorted cocaine, and by the end of his career, he was shooting up "speedballs" of cocaine and heroin. He, his older brother, Enrique, and their friends shared syringes of cocaine and heroin bought with De Jesús' earnings.

In 1985, De Jesús learned that Enrique had died of AIDS. Shortly afterward, De Jesús tested positive for the virus. He faced the possibility of dying in prison until his sentence was commuted on March 28, 1989. He was released on the condition that he receive treatment at an AIDS clinic.

Bedridden and dying, De Jesús received a visit from Duran. His former nemesis gave him a hug and a kiss.

De Jesús died on May 12, 1989. He was 37 years old.

Newspaper Article

"This Foe's Tougher Than Duran" The New York Times, April 22, 1989

Preceded by:
Guts Ishimatsu
WBC Lightweight Champion
1976 May 8 – 1978 Jan 21
Succeeded by:
Roberto Duran