Julio Cesar Chavez knocked Meldrick Taylor down with a left hook, then finished him with a flurry of punches in the eighth round of their rematch Saturday night to retain his WBC super lightweight title.
Chavez, who stopped Taylor with only two seconds left in their first fight four years ago, needed no such last-minute heroics this time around.Taylor, who had gone done seconds earlier, was taking a beating to the head when referee Mills Lane stepped in and stopped the bout at 1:41 of the eighth.
It was the 78th knockout in 93 fights for the Mexican champion, who started slowly but began to dominate in the middle rounds of the scheduled 12-round fight.
Taylor had vowed before the fight to knock Chavez out in the eighth round. But it was Taylor, not Chavez, who was stopped in the promised round.
Chavez was ahead by five points on one ringside scorecard and even on the other two through seven rounds.
But a left hook about a minute into the final round sent Taylor backwards across the ring, where he fell to the canvas near the ropes. He was up quickly, but Chavez was back on top of him.
"For me, this is my revenge," Chavez said. "For everyone who said that I was done and that Don King would fall, this is our revenge."
The fight topped a card of six title fights at the MGM Grand hotel-casino, where Chavez had lost for the first time Jan. 29 when Frankie Randall knocked him down and took a decision.
Taylor, a 2-1 underdog, came out strong and appeared to be carrying the fight over the slower Chavez in the earlier rounds.
But by the fifth round, Chavez began finding his mark with more regularity. And, in the sixth, he seemed to wear Taylor down when the two fighters went toe-to-toe almost the entire round in exchanges that brought the sellout crowd of 15,200 to its feet.
"I knew I would win this fight," Chavez said. "I was so dedicated."
The fight for a time appeared a replay of the classic first bout, a fight that Taylor was winning until Chavez caught him in the final seconds of the 12th round.
Taylor's career went into a tailspin following that defeat but he appeared reinvigorated in recent fights and had won three straight by knockout going into the fight.
"I felt strong," Taylor said. "Obviously until I got hurt I thought I had him hurt a couple of times. But he's a great champion and I take my hat off to him."
Chavez (91-1-1) took care of one controversial decision, but wants to avenge another.
"I want Randall," he said.
Promoter Don King, however, said Randall will first fight Pernell Whitaker before meeting Chavez in a rubber match of their two fights.
"It's a done deal," King said.
Randall was also on the card, and he won the WBA version of the 140-pound title with a lopsided decision over Juan Coggi of Argentina. Randall knocked Coggi down three times en route to the easy victory.
In other bouts, Gabriel Ruelas joined his brother, Rafael, as a world champion when he knocked James Leija down twice to take the WBC super featherweight title.
Ruelas, 130, knocked Leija down with a right uppercut in the second round and a straight right hand in the 12th to take a unanimous decision in the 12-round fight. His brother holds the IBF lightweight title.
Leija, 130, was making the first defense of the title he won May 7 from Azumah Nelson. He managed to drop Ruelas with a short right hand in the fifth round, but Ruelas threw more and harder punches to win by eight points on one card, six on another and four on a third.