On March 17, 1990, a classic for all ages in Las Vegas Hilton, where Julio César Chávez and Meldrick Taylor fought a terrific contest of courage, willpower and firepower.
Chavez was undefeated with 66 wins. His record in championship fights was 16-0 with 11 knockouts, and this would be the third defense of his WBC super lightweight title which he won against Roger Mayweather in 1989.
Philadelphia’s Taylor had won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics at 126 pounds for the United States team that included Pernell Whitaker and Evander Holyfield. Taylor was rapidly establishing his mark in the top echelons of professional boxing, and the only blemish on his record was a draw against Howard Davis in 1986.
Meldrick was on the cusp of victory against the greatest Mexican fighter in history, with an advantage on the cards of 107-102, 108-101 and 104-105. Julio`s only victory option was a KO, as the seconds ticked away in the final round.
However, Julio ruptured the storyline with a mighty right cross that sent Taylor sprawling to the canvas with just 15 seconds remaining. Somehow an exhausted Meldrick heroically got up, but befuddled, so Referee Richard Steele decided to end the fight declaring a technical knockout in favor of the Mexican fighter. At the time, there was just four seconds left on the clock!
Richard Steele has never wavered from that humane decision in saving an exhausted, badly I hurt and confused fighter, who was in no position to defend himself. To this day he says: “No fight is worth a man`s life.”
RING magazine named the Fight of the Year and Fight of the Decade, above Tyson vs. the fight. Douglas, which took place a month earlier. The match wreaked physical havoc on Taylor, who was hospitalized for four days for a double fracture of the cheekbone, dehydration, and major blood loss from a gash inside his mouth. Both fighters would face each other in a rematch in 1994, a fight that was very different from the first and that Chávez won by technical knockout in the eighth round.