If he had lived, as he so fully deserved to; living into early old age like fellow greats, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, George Foreman and Larry Holmes, Bobby Chacon would soon be turning 70 today. But Chacon, who just might have been the most thoroughly exciting, lay it ALL on the line action fighter of them all, sadly fell to dementia, passing away at the relatively young age of 64 in 2016.
Chacon paid the price for his all-action approach, for his seemingly without a care in the world for his own well-being outlook. But how the fans of the day were more than willing to pay the price of admission for a Bobby Chacon fight! Today, we rightly celebrate the late Arturo Gatti as the ultimate ring warrior. Yet if Gatti was blood and guts, Chacon was blood, guts and yet more guts. Never has a man left it all in the ring, over an unrelenting series of fights/wars/slugfests the way the former featherweight and super-featherweight champ did.
Chacon had a hard life, both in and out of the ring. Facing the elite featherweights, Chacon, nicknamed “Schoolboy” due to his youthful looks and the fact that he did attend university for a while, soon found out he was a born fighter. With a heart to die for, or to kill for, and with a truly gutsy warrior mentality, Bobby went pro in January of 1972 and he was soon a major fan attraction.
At just 22, Chacon was 19-0, with a win over Chucho Castillo to his name, when he was matched with the great Ruben Olivares. Olivares knew too much for Chacon, getting a 9th round retirement win. But Chacon hadn’t even got going yet. Chacon roared back and he defeated Danny Lopez by stoppage and then, in September of 1974, Chacon stopped Alfredo Marcano to win the WBC featherweight title. A huge attraction in California, Chacon had many admirers.
His reign was short, with Bobby being stopped by Olivares in a return, this in his second title defence. This time, Olivares got a quick win, in just a couple of rounds. But then, on December 7th, 1975, Chacon met for the first time the man who would become his most famous rival. Rafael “Bazooka” Limon won a decision over Chacon in the first of four savage fights. After losing to Bazooka in Mexico, Chacon set his sights on becoming a two-weight champ. During this time, in a third go, Chacon was finally able to beat Olivares, this by decision in a non-title fight in August of 1977. A return with Limon, for the NABF 130 pound strap, ended as a TD as Limon suffered a bad cut. These two rivals had two super fights ahead of them.
A failed challenge of the great Alexis Arguello, where a bloodied Chacon was stopped in seven rounds, was followed by a third war with Limon. This time, in March of 1980, Chacon walked away with a split decision win. Then, after a punishing loss to the big and strong Cornelius Boza Edwards, Chacon enjoyed a great spell, where he won seven fights on the spin. But during this spell, Bobby’s wife, who had urged her husband to retire, so tough was it for her to see him take the punches he so often, even willingly took, could stand no more. Valorie Chacon took her own life by shooting herself. Chacon was devastated yet he used the inner rage and grief to fight even harder.
The fourth and final battle between Chacon and Limon, which was waged in December of 1982, produced one of the greatest, most astonishingly violent, brutal and thrilling fights of all-time (if you have not seen the fight, stop reading and go and watch it now!) Chacon took immense amounts of punishment from the rock-fisted Limon and the war was deservedly given FOTY distinction; with some saying the 15 round epic was The Fight of the Decade. Chacon was now the WBC super-featherweight champ.
And then, Chacon avenged his loss to Boza Edwards, getting the unanimous decision in May of 1983, this one yet another almost unbelievable shoot-out. Chacon had been stripped for not facing Hector Camacho, but none of his fans cared too much. Chacon had again pushed himself to the extreme, in so doing giving his sport another blistering classic. This was the last great fight for Chacon. In the ring.
Chacon, like so many before him as well as after him, fought on for far too long. Beaten up by Ray Mancini in a lightweight title challenge, Chacon was a faded warrior yet he could not quit. Finally, in 1988, after having spilt so much blood and having left so much of himself in the ring, Chacon retired with a 59-7-1(47) record. Sadly, his money disappearing as rapidly as his health and his memories, Chacon cut a tragic figure in his final years.
Forgotten by the fans that once loved him, the 2001 version of Chacon is captured in the powerful and moving short film “End Of The Line.” Chacon, with badly slurred speech, unsteady gait and failing memory, retained his sense of humour and his upbeat attitude as best he could, but he was rapidly heading to a frightening place all prize fighters know is out there for them, or can be if they ship the kind of alarming amount of leather Bobby took.
Chacon was always a humble guy, even if he perhaps had more of a right than others to act like a jerk, and he has a special place in the hearts of those fans that do remember and appreciate his guts and bravery. He died broke, but Bobby Chacon had earned a unique place in boxing history. There really may never have been a more exciting ring warrior.