40 years ago today, astonishing ring warrior Bobby Chacon, a blood and guts warrior of the highest order, a man who was seemingly never in a boring fight, gave us his final great one. Facing fellow tough guy, Cornelius Boza Edwards in a return of their May 1981 war, this one won by Boza when Chacon was unable to come out for round 14, Chacon once again dup unimaginably deep in the search of victory.
The fight of May 15, 1983, proved to be Ring Magazine’s Fight of The Year. It could have been the best fight of the decade. Chacon and Edwards swapped an almighty amount of leather, they traded knockdowns, they tested one another’s heart in a purely hellish manner, and Chacon bled profusely from both eyes as well as from the nose. Finally, after a slippery canvas (slippery due to a combination of the blood and water that splashed the mat), after pleas from commentator Fredie Pacheco to stop the fight, so badly busted up was Chacon, so much punishment he was taking in the eyes of “The Fight Doctor,” Chacon had, courtesy of a late rounds rally, won the fight. Surprisingly, it was a unanimous decision for “Schoolboy.”
This would have been a fine way for 31 year old Chacon to walk away. Chacon had evened the score with Edwards, and he still had his health. But Chacon was never going to retire. Fighting was his life. Sadly, as a result of the many wars he fought in, Chacon was not left with much of a life during his final years.
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. Chacon 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 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 Lamon, for the NABF 130 pound strap, ended as a TD as Lamon 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. Chacon took immense amounts of punishment from the rock-fisted Limon and the fight proved to be another truly special one from Chacon, who was now the WBC super-featherweight champ.
And then, Chacon avenged his loss to Boza Edwards, getting the unanimous decision 40 years ago this very day, this one, as described above, 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. It should have been the end.
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.
However, Bobby Chacon may well have been the single most exciting fighter who ever lived. His fight from 40 years ago is almost too violent, too brutal to appreciate. A fan could even find him or herself feeling guilty at enjoying the carnage taking place in the ring. The saying ‘they gave too much’ applies to Bobby Chacon, maybe in the Boza Edwards rematch more than in any of his other fights.