The Scale Is Tough On Chavez

Posted: September 18, 1991

Julio Cesar Chavez, whose winning streak stretches from here to immortality, has finally faced an opponent he cannot conquer.

The scale.

Chavez, who has won titles in three different weight classes, is ready to enter his fourth division in four years.

The World Boxing Council junior-welterweight champion, who scored a unanimous decision over Lonnie Smith on Saturday night in Las Vegas, had to drop 4 1/2 pounds the day before the bout.

"It cost me a great deal to make weight for this fight," said Chavez, apologizing for what he regarded as a lackluster performance against Smith. ''I hope the American public will not look at me in a bad light."

The news that Chavez, 76-0, is stepping up in weight is bound to please Meldrick Taylor, the World Boxing Association welterweight champion from Philadelphia.

Taylor jumped to the welterweight division after his crushing loss to Chavez on March 17, 1990.

Ever since then, both men have said they would wage their rematch at 145 pounds - a mid-point between welterweight (147) and junior welterweight.

Not anymore.

"Julio wants five titles before he's through," said Gladys Rosa, his publicist and interpreter. "After he wins the welterweight title, he wants to become a junior middleweight."

In the meantime, the rhetoric for the Taylor-Chavez match, which is not likely to be signed until next year, has already started.

"Meldrick Taylor's skills are deteriorating," crowed Don King, who promotes Chavez. "But I'm willing to have Julio fight Meldrick Taylor or Hector Camacho or both."

ONLY IN AMERICA. Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, indicted and arraigned last week on charges that he raped a teenage beauty contestant, provided the color commentary for the cable broadcast of the Chavez-Smith fight.

The crowd cheered and applauded when he entered the arena.

Members of the Tyson entourage, sporting T-shirts with "We Support Mike Tyson" on the front and "The Truth Shall Set You Free" on the back, passed out leaflets that stated, "This is America. Innocent until proven guilty."

King, who promotes Tyson, referred to the fighter as a "genius of negativism."

It is always difficult to interpret King, who once described his friendship with a woman as "Plutonic," but apparently he meant that Tyson does not promote negativism but overcomes it.

RECOGNITION. Former middleweight champion Joey Giardello, inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame this year, will be honored at a banquet at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Cherry Hill Inn.

Tickets are $39 each, with proceeds going to the St. John of God School for Special Children in Westville Grove, N.J.

Guests will include another former middlweight champion, Carmen Basilio, plus ex-heavyweight titleholders Joe Frazier and Jersey Joe Walcott.

Giardello, who fought out of Philadelphia, now lives in Cherry Hill.

For tickets, call 215-289-0850 or 609-829-0800.

A RELAXED STATE. They do things differently in California, a place so laid- back that yawning is a sign of anxiety.

But just how differently do they do things there?

Well, last week in Sacramento, there was an open bar at the weigh-in for the Tony Lopez-Brian Mitchell junior-lightweight title bout.

Yes, an open bar.

When native son Lopez came in three-quarters of a pound over weight, his numerous supporters must have felt like crying into their beers.

Lopez tried for almost two hours to sweat off the excess baggage, but all he could lose was a quarter of a pound.

Mitchell finally waived the rule that obliges fighters to meet the weight limit for a title fight, allowing Lopez, all 130 1/2 pounds of him, to defend his International Boxing Federation crown.

Which Lopez proceeded to lose via unanimous decision on Friday night, undoubtedly leading his fans to wonder:

Where is an open bar when you need one?

FAMOUS LAST WORDS. "This is going to be guerrilla warfare," Smith said only two days before trying to turn his match with Chavez into a track meet.

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