Former two-division champion Jesus “El Matador” Chavez returns to the ring after a year absence due to injuries. The Texan is ready to buck the injury bug and years of Murphy’s Law.
Chavez (42-4, 29 KOs), a junior lightweight and lightweight world champion, looks to hand Puerto Rico Daniel “Azuquita” Jimenez (17-2-1, 10 KOs) some of his Texas hospitality at the Morongo Casino Spa and Resort on Friday April 4.
The fight promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Tecate will be shown on Telefutura. The fight card begins at 4 p.m. Pacific Time.
Nothing goes according to plan for the stocky bull neck fighter who was originally born in Parral, Mexico, a region famous for being Pancho Villa’s territory 100 years ago.
Whether it’s injuries in the ring, problems outside of his work, or tragedy inside the ropes, Chavez has experienced enough to write a book about. Murphy’s Law seems to have a grip on him like he owes something.
Can he box?
“He’s just a tremendous fighter,” said Eric Gomez, vice president of Golden Boy Promotions that is staging the event with Tecate. “He’s a crowd pleaser.”
During the last 10 years boxing fans have enjoyed his non-stop pressure fighting style that includes a willingness to blow through the most formidable opponents in the lightweight division. He relishes a good fight.
Early in his career he fought the law and lost.
After serving jail time he was transported back to Mexico with the order to never return. But boxing was his life so he sneaked back across the Rio Grande and began fighting under his current name. An INS agent spotted him on television during one of his fights and arrested him there. Back he went to Mexico.
Through the efforts of friends and people of influence Chavez was granted the opportunity to return. The humble Mexican fighter has proven to be one of the finer human beings in the sport.
But bad luck always seems to follow him.
In November 2001 Chavez went toe-to-toe with WBC junior lightweight titleholder Floyd Mayweather. The referee stopped it in the ninth round, but Chavez’s gloves never touched the canvas.
Two years later he climbed back to the top when he beat Puerto Rico’s Carlos Gerena in an elimination bout in 2003 and finally fought for the world title again. This time he captured the title with a withering attack against Thailand’s Sirimongkol Singwancha.
Chavez was a champion but it lasted only six months when his first title defense came against Tijuana’s Erik “El Terrible” Morales on February 2004.
Murphy’s Law struck Chavez harder than Morales who was wobbled in the first round by a big right hand from the Texan. It was broken but the tough fighter battered Morales one-handed for the entire 12 rounds. To make things worse, he hurt his knee during that fight and was barely able to stand. Chavez never quit to the amazement of everybody including Morales.
“I didn’t know he hurt his right hand,” said Morales after the fight.
Chavez’s willingness to fight on despite two debilitating injuries impressed many boxing fans. But, alas, he no longer had the title.
In 2005 he was matched against a fighter who greatly mirrored his own style, Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez, a Salvadoran raised in Southern California. It was a dogfight that saw both prizefighters spend every ounce of energy battering each other. Chavez won a split-decision in Los Angeles.
“That fight was very satisfying,” Chavez, 35, says. “Hernandez and I made that a wonderful fight. We fight alike.”
But life didn’t remain wonderful for Chavez when he fought Leavander Johnson for the IBF lightweight title on September 2005.
Johnson and Chavez battered each other for nine rounds like warriors until slowly Chavez began landing more and more. It was apparent that Chavez seemed stronger but Johnson refused to surrender. The New Jersey fighter never stopped trying until referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight in the 11th round.
Johnson, a personable fighter outside the ring, sustained head injuries during the fight and staggered in the tunnel as he walked out of the arena. He was immediately sent by ambulance to the local hospital but never recovered. He died five days later.
Chavez bravely attended Johnson’s funeral in New Jersey, unaware what to expect. That day the Johnson family set aside their own sadness. They embraced the Mexican fighter and urged him to continue as a prizefighter.
Chavez vowed to fight for Johnson’s family.
For the first defense of his title he was matched against the great Marco Antonio Barrera. During training Chavez suffered a leg injury and was forced to cancel.
More than a year passed when Chavez was finally deemed healthy enough to defend his IBF title. On February 2007 he met Coachella’s Julio “The Kidd” Diaz in Florida. After three rounds Chavez’s leg gave out again. He lost the title.
Bad luck had hit again.
Now, more than a year has passed since losing the title to Diaz. After that fight Chavez had retired but his promoters gave him the option of returning back to the ring, if he chose.
Bad luck or not, Chavez has returned.
“I don’t know if the injuries are bad luck or not, but I’m making a comeback,” said Chavez. “It’s for the love of the sport.”
Mexico City’s Jhonny Gonzalez (36-6), the former WBO bantamweight titleholder, is moving up in weight and fights featherweight Edel Ruiz (29-19-4) in a 10-round fight at Morongo Casino Resort and Spa on Friday April 4. The fight card begins early at 4:15 p.m. For more information call (866) 328-2024.
Riverside’s Hector Serrano (5-0) will fight Carlos Musquez (3-1-2) in the main event at the Quiet Cannon on Friday April 4. The fight card is promoted by All Star Boxing. For more information call (323) 781-4871.
Lightweight contender Josesito Lopez (22-2) has opted to accept a fight against New York’s junior welterweight Edgar Santana (23-3) in Miami, Florida on April 11. The fight will be televised.
Indio’s Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley (21-0) is scheduled to fight WBC junior welterweight titleholder Junior Witter (36-1-2) of Great Britain on May 10 in Nottingham, England. Bradley is the number one ranked junior welterweight according to the WBC.
Moreno Valley fighter wins
Kaliesha West knocked out last-minute replacement Flor Verdugo with a three-punch combination in the second round of their bantamweight fight in Ensenada, Mexico on Saturday.
West, 20, a former Moreno Valley High student, scored her first pro knockout.
“The crowd cheered loud for her every time she punched,” said West (8-0, 1 KO). “I was worried.”
The spunky fighter remains undefeated and is set to fight again in Ensenada for her promoter Cota’s Boxing Promotions.
Layla McCarter wins in Canada
Las Vegas female boxer Layla McCarter (30-13-5) successfully defended her WBA lightweight title against Canada’s Jelena Mrdjenovich (21-3-1) at Edmonton, Canada on Friday.
“She has the WBC lightweight title but she didn’t want to put that up,” said McCarter, 28, who is one of the few boxers able to fight in foreign countries and win by decision. “It should have been unanimous.”
It was the third time that McCarter and Mrdjenovich had tangled. The Las Vegas boxer won the first fight by decision in a six round bout and lost the eight-round rematch by decision after suffering a broken arm during the fight. McCarter won the tiebreaker in a 10-round contest.
“Layla won the fight easy,” said Luis Tapia her trainer.
Fights on television
Thurs. Versus, 6 p.m., Joshua Clottey (33-2) vs. Jose Luis Cruz (34-3-2).
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Jason Estrada (11-1) vs. Lance Whitaker (32-4-1).
Fri. Telefutura, 8 p.m., Jesus Chavez (42-4) vs. Daniel Jimenez (17-2-1).