‘Slick’ Willy Wise, The Man Who Defeated Julio Cesar Chavez


27.09.08 – by James Slater – “Slick” Willy Wise was a colourful welterweight journeyman of the highest order back in the 1990s. A decent amateur, Wise turned pro in December of 1988 and went 15-0-2 in his initial four years, often fighting at The Felt Forum in his native New York. Then, in June of 1992, 25-year-old Wise lost the first of an eventual 11 defeats..

Stopped in 4-rounds by one Stephan Johnson, the man he had previously drawn with and who met the great Roy Jones Junior in what was only Jones’ 2nd pro fight (losing in a respectable 8-rounds), Wise soon slipped into journeyman mode. Wise drew in his next fight, then won three, before drawing and losing in his next two outings. Stopped by the then unbeaten Reggie Green – who would one day beat Ray Oliviera and Jaime “Rocky” Balboa and lose to Mickey Ward and Zab Judah – “Slick” Willy’s promise as a top tier fighter was further compromised.

After a good five-fight win streak, in which he travelled to South Africa for one of his fights and upset local man Dingaan Thobela, a future WBC super-middleweight champion, Wise would lose three of his next six, all but one inside the distance. The year was now 1999 and fortune was about to smile on the man with the 23-6-4 record, however.

Mexican idol Julio Cesar Chavez, two winning fights removed from his humbling rematch loss to Oscar De La Hoya, was in search of a decent, but beatable, opponent. Wise took the job but tore up any prearranged script. Beating the Mexican icon and former three-weight world champion via an authoritative unanimous decision at The Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas on the 2nd of October, 1999, Wise scored the very best win of his 41 bout career.

Momentarily propelled into the big time, “Slick” Willy was rewarded with a fight against “Sugar” Shane Mosley, then having his second bout at welterweight after moving up from his commanding tenure at lightweight. Wise proved to be no match for Mosley and was TKO’d in the 3rd round in a January 2000 non-title fight.

Ever the journeyman, Wise travelled to England for his next two fights – beating Brit Darren Bruce for something called the IBO welterweight title and then losing to another British fighter in Jawaid Khaliq while defending his newly acquired belt. The points loss to Khaliq marked the first of four consecutive losses for Wise, the last of which signalled the end of his career.

This final fight was a big one, however, in that it was a return match with the man he had shocked on points four years before. Meeting up with Chavez again – this “J.C Superstar” being a pretty much all done 104-5-2, post-Kostya Tszyu has-been – Wise was stopped in just 2 rounds in a fight held at light-middleweight in Mexico. Chavez may have felt a sense of pride at having avenged a previous loss, but in truth the fight proved nothing except the two men involved were shot fighters.

Willy wisely retired immediately afterwards, but Chavez battled on pointlessly for a further two years. In some strange way, the two men are linked together still. Wise beat Chavez, Chavez beat Wise. There was no need for a rubber-match.

Still, Willy Wise, the fighter who was nicknamed “Slick,” can honestly say he met the best in his time. Retiring with a 26-11-4(7) record, after a career that saw him box in five different countries, Wise met two of the finest pound-for-pound fighters of the last twenty years – and he upset one of them!