What Would Have Happened Had Chavez v Taylor Been Permitted To Continue

10.06.06 - By James Slater: The fight between Julio Cesar Chavez and Meldrick Taylor, held on Saint Patrick's day 1990, was simply astonishing. For two reasons. On one hand the bout was unforgettable simply because of the intensely high quality of the blistering action we were privileged to have witnessed in the ring. And on the other hand the fight stands supreme as THE fight of the '90's due to the shocking and massively controversial ending it had. As we all know, Referee Richard Steele called a halt to the action, after the knockdown Chavez scored over Taylor - with only two seconds left on the clock! Many people went crazy, while a few did support Steele's decision.

Meldrick had certainly suffered a lot of punishment at the hands of Chavez, even before the twelfth round knockdown. He had a bad cut inside his mouth that led to his swallowing a significant amount of blood.. While he was also badly swollen around the face and eyes ( the result of a broken eye socket ) and was suffering from badly bruised kidneys and dehydration. All this despite the fact that he was winning the fight - on points. He was way ahead going into the final round yet, incredibly, both of Meldrick's chief corner men - Lou Duva and George Benton - gave him instructions to fight hard and make sure he won the last session of the fight. Had Meldrick danced and stayed away, victory would surely have been his. But he did as he was told and this gave "J.C Superstar" a chance. A chance the Mexican legend took by scoring the dramatic knockdown in the bout's final remaining seconds.

Taylor, as we all saw, bravely beat the count at about five but then insufficiently convinced Steele of his capability of continuing. Taylor seemed to look away to his right ( it was later revealed how he had been distracted by his trainer Lou Duva who had ascended the ring apron at this time) and Richard waved the fight off. Julio had won with a mere two seconds remaining. Should the fight have been permitted to go on then? This is a question fight fans are still asking themselves today, some sixteen years after the epic war took place.

I offer here my interpretation of what I believe would have happened had the action been allowed to continue after the come-from-behind knockdown.

Chavez, who was hovering menacingly in the immediate background as Steele's count was being administered, rushes forward as soon as the referee moves away from the badly shaken warrior from Philly. Meldrick tries to move his legs and retreat from his advancing opponent. He finds himself caught along the ropes, however, as Julio lands a vicious right hand flush on his jaw. Meldrick pitches forward and as he does Chavez whips in a brutal left hook to the head. Steele dives in instantly but the damage has been done. Taylor is left face down on the canvas and it is clear to everyone that he is badly hurt. Chavez raises his arms in triumph in front of an incredibly animated crowd. However, when Julio realises how badly hurt Meldrick appears to be he dispenses with the celebrations. Taylor's corner-men rush to his aid and hope and pray that he is ok. Thankfully he is and, after a seemingly eternal stretch of time, Meldrick shows his toughness and spirit once again by rising from the ring stool he had been placed on to wave to the audience. Thank God he is fine.

But, would the risk have been worth it? Yes, there was a lot on the line and Meldrick had fought a great and heroic fight. But a fighter's health is surely the primary thing on any self respecting official's mind and as such he should care nothing for a boxer's prospective glory. This is the kind of referee Richard Steele is. He was all to aware of the fact that Meldrick had absolutely nothing left and made a very brave and correct call.

To quote one of the boxing magazines of the day that said it best - "Steele can look himself in the mirror every morning, safe in the knowledge that he made the right decision. Thanks to this, so too can Meldrick Taylor".

Enough said!

Article posted on 10.06.2006

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