(Andre the Giant, left, Bobby Chacon, right; via)
There was some outstanding boxing in the 1980s. But as in every other decade of boxing, rankings and sanctioning bodies who created them really mimicked what was loosely considered the fashion of the times: funky, eccentric, and downright embarrassing in hindsight.
The years have been kind to Larry Holmes and Marvin Hagler in terms of perception and all-time rankings; they usually are, however. But in the early eighties, the World Boxing Council threatened to snatch the rug out from under both great champions and leave them sans belts. Holmes would famously ditch the belt, of course, before the organization could act decisively, but a smaller fighter with less influence might be more easily manipulated. A fighter like, say, Bobby Chacon.
Entrenched in legal matters with Don King and still coping with the death of his wife, Bobby Chacon was lined up to defend his WBC junior lightweight belt in his only fight of 1983. Initially, the WBC refused to sanction the rematch between Bobby Chacon and Cornelius Boza-Edwards, demanding that Chacon instead defend against Hector Camacho, who was actually ranked lower than Boza-Edwards, but happened to be promoted by Don King. That King happened to be pals with WBC president Jose Sulaiman probably made no difference. Or maybe some.
By May 16, 1983, Cornelius Boza-Edwards was chest deep in a professional boxing career that saw him turn pro not long after representing Uganda in the 1976 Olympics. His short, yet already explosive pro career had seen him to a record of 38-3 (30 KO), including a stoppage win over Bobby Chacon in 1981.
Having already retired a number of times — memorably in 1976, after barely winning a decision over David Sotelo in which Chacon hit the deck a few times — Chacon was using his ninth life in taking on Boza-Edwards once more, even if he had won a belt in the meantime.
After the bout, Chacon said, “[Ringside physicians] kept saying I could go one more round, but they said it for seven rounds. After the 6th round, I knew they wouldn’t stop it.”
In context, Chacon would need 40 stitches for the cuts over and under his eyes, all told. His left eye was just about completely shut after the 12 rounds were done, his nose was destroyed, and cuts about his eyes likely had a cocktail party. Boza-Edwards wasn’t any better for wear, though, having felt the tight grip of the canvas thrice during the evening, during rounds 1, 2 and 12. His cut up physique had no say in the contest.
Richard Steele, who refereed the scrum, would say after Chacon lost his next fight to Ray Mancini in three rounds, that, “The difference there was that Boza-Edwards doesn’t punch like Ray Mancini.”