When most people think of the Mexican legend, their mind automatically goes to his amazing unbeaten streak. However, Chavez's greatness is not made because of a meaningless statistic, but because of his dominance over a large amount of high level competition over a long and exhausting career.
Chavez's first big victory came 1984 when he won the vacant WBC super featherweight title. Though many vacant title's happen against mediocre opponents, Chavez was faced up against underrated Mexican Mario 'Azabache' Martinez. Despite Chavez's already impressive 43-0 record, Martinez was a strong favorite coming into this fight and considered the third best 130lb fighter in the world after his impressive stoppage wins over Roberto Castanon and highly rated Rolando Navarette. Chavez overwhelmed him and stopped him in the 8th, which began championship career. Martinez would go on to have a close fight against Roger Mayweather and arguably beat ATG Azumah Nelson in their 1988 fight.
Next up would be former multiple time title challenger Ruben Castillo, who had in the past given Alexis Arguello and Salvador Sanchez tough fights. Castillo was one of the best featherweights in the world, but Chavez TKOed him in the 6th in a close range battle.
Chavez then fought against Roger Mayweather, who had been lineal champ after beating Samuel Serrano about 2 years previously. Mayweather was considered the 2nd best super featherweight in the world, but Chavez chin checked him early and only needed 2 rounds to put him away.
After a string of unremarkable title defenses against Dwight Pratchett, Faustino Barrios and Refugio Rojas, Chavez took on former lineal champ Rocky Lockridge, who in his last title fight had deserved a decision win over the ATG Wilfredo 'Bazooka' Gomez, and was considered by many to still be the best fighter in the division. Though Lockridge put on immense pressure, Chavez was able to outbox him and won a decision over 12 rounds. Lockridge would shortly afterward become the IBF super featherweight champ by stopping Barry Michael, the second best fighter in the division.
In one of his toughest fights, Chavez next decisioned the tough and durable Juan LaPorte over 12 rounds. LaPorte had gone the distance with fighters such as Wilfredo Gomez and Salvador Sanchez, and again gave a very good showing against Chavez, but fell up short. LaPorte would go on to trouble Azumah Nelson in their title fight.
After 2 more title defenses against Francisco Tomas Da Cruz and former title challenger Danilo Cabrera, Chavez would take on the HOF huge puncher, Edwin Rosario, in his first fight at 135lbs. Despite Rosario's huge punching power, Chavez became the best fighter at Lightweight in his first fight by crowding Rosario and stopping him in the 11th round, beaten and bleeding.
Chavez's next title defense came against Rudolfo Aguilar, a future top 140lber, by TKO in 6, in his first professional fight against a southpaw.
Chavez took on former sparring partner and WBC Lightweight champ Jose Luis Ramirez next, and while letting up on him a little cruised without problem to a 12 round decision. Ramirez arguably should have a win over the legendary Alexis Arguello earlier in his career, and was considered one of the best lightweights in the world when Chavez beat him.
Chavez then moved up to 140lbs to challenge former opponent Roger Mayweather for the WBC light Welterweight title. Prior to this fight Roger had been undefeated at 140lbs with wins over future and former champs Rene Arrendondo and Vinny Pazienza, and nicknamed 'The Mexican Assassin" for his ability to beat high level Mexican opponents. After giving Chavez problems early and fighting well, he ultimately caved in to Chavez's attack, forfitting at the end of the 10th round.
After winning a tournament to compete for the championship, top ten rated Sammy Fuentes gave Chavez more trouble than expected with his volume punching, but ultimately followed in Mayweather's footsteps, and quit at the end of the 10th round due to Chavez's combination punching.
With a unification fight between very highly rated Meldrick Taylor on the horizon, Chavez defended his title once more with a 3rd round stoppage against Alberto De Las Mercedes Cortez, who would in a later fight drop Felix Trinidad and be the last man to defeat future lineal champ Carlos Baldomir before Baldomir lost to Floyd Mayweather.
Next up was the incredibly fast Meldrick Taylor in a much anticipated fight, dubbed 'Thunder and Lightning'. Through most of the early and middle parts of the fight, Taylor built up points with his volume punching and speed and was widely ahead leading into the 9th. However, Taylor had received a large amount of unnoticed punishment while landing more punches, and by the end of the 11th round he was badly beaten up and had been bleeding from the mouth from early in the 2nd round. With almost no time left on the clock in the 12th round, Chavez landed a thudding right hand which stumbled Taylor, and Chavez controversially stopped him with only seconds to spare.
After beating Kyung-Duk Ahn in a title defense, Chavez faced off against top ten rated John Duplessis, who tried running from the start, but was quickly cut down and sent through the ropes from Chavez's body punching.
His following challenger 'Lightning' Lonnie Smith, former best at 140lbs, tried similiar tactics alongside dirty fighting including a knee to the groin, but Chavez shut him out in 12 round decision. The tall and rangy top light welterweight Angel Hernandez was next up, but was stopped in the 5th round after doubling over from a straight right hand to the body.
After disposing of Frankie Mitchell in 4 rounds, Chavez took on former lightweight and superfeatherweight champ Hector Camacho, who was one of the best 140lb fighters in the world and who was well known for his hand speed and boxing ability. Chavez casually walked him down and punished him over 12 rounds, giving him a worse beating than prime Felix Trinidad or Oscar De La Hoya could, despite Camacho being substantially older and at a higher weight.
In front of a record breaking 132,247 fans, Chavez dismantled the trash talking and game former lightweight and light welterweight champ Greg Haugen over 5 brutal rounds. After doing a similiar paint job against the highly rated Terrance Ali, Chavez moved up in weight again to face the toughest challenge of his career, Pernell 'Sweet Pea' Whitaker.
After receiving a robbery draw against Whitaker, Chavez's dominant days started to end. After putting away undefeated British challenger Andy Holligan in 5 rounds, Chavez got his first official loss when he faced a possessed Frankie Randall, who was able to drop Chavez for the first time in his career with a thundering right hand. Chavez beat Randall again by techincal decision and regained the title, but it was clear that is best days were behind him.
In 1994 Chavez had a long overdue rematch with the faded but still game Meldrick Taylor, who had won and lost a Welterweight title since their first fight. After giving Chavez a surprising amount of trouble, Chavez dropped and finished Taylor with a check left hook.
Next up Chavez stopped Tony 'The Tiger' Lopez on cuts, who had previously won title straps at lightweight and light welterweight and was coming off a surprising KO win over Greg Haugen.
In 1995 Chavez faced and beat two top 140lb fighters Giovanni Parisi and David Kamau by decision. Parisi would win the WBO light welterweight title less than a year later by beating former Chavez opponent Sammy Fuentes.
After suffering a cut in sparring, Chavez had little hope against the rising boxing superstar Oscar De La Hoya. De La Hoya reopened Chavez's cut early in the first round, which bled badly and caused the stoppage in the 4th round.
In Chavez's last meaningful win of his career, he stopped former lightweight titlist Joey Gamache in the 8th round on cuts. After three more unsuccessful title runs in against Miguel Angel Gonzalez(a draw), Kostya Tszyu and a rematch with DLH at Welterweight, Chavez's legendary run was about over.
Overall Chavez had about 22 wins over notable competition, and had success over 3 different weight classes, making him the greatest boxer to come out of Mexico.
Jose Luis Ramirez