Julio Cesar Chavez Gonzalez was born on July 12, 1962 in Ciudad Obregon, MX. His father, Rodolfo Chavez, worked for the railroad, and Julio grew up in an abandoned railroad car with his five sisters and four brothers. He began boxing as an amateur at the age of sixteen and after 14 wins entered an tournament in Mexico City, in which he got his first and only amateur loss.
Chavez decided he would fare better as a pro and got his pro career off to a good start by knocking out Andres Felix in the sixth round of his debut on February 5, 1980. He fought on average once a month and already had thirty-seven fights under his belt by 1983 when he fought on the undercard of the Edwin Rosario-Jose Luis Ramirez fight. On this Don King-promoted card, Chavez beat Javier Fragoso by a fourth round KO. After a couple more fights televised in the US and with a record of 44 and 0, Chavez earned a shot at the WBC super featherweight title which had been vacated by Hector Camacho. On September 13, 1984, he TKO'ed Mario Martinez in 8 to gain his first championship belt.
After 9 successful defenses, Chavez decided to move up in weight and in November of 1987 took on Edwin Rosario (Puerto Rico) in a bout for the WBA lightweight title. Angered by how Rosario had insulted the Mexican people before the match, Chavez gave him a vicious beating and won the title with an eleventh round TKO. Just eleven months after winning this new belt, Chavez won yet another--the WBC lightweight title--by beating Jose Luis Ramirez in an eleven round technical decision.
Next was to move up in weight again. In May of the next year, 1989, Chavez took on Roger Mayweather in an attempt to gain the WBC light welterweight title. Chavez had already fought Mayweather when defending his WBC super featherweight title and had won with a second round TKO. This fight proved to be a little more difficult, as it lasted until the 10th for Chavez to get the TKO win. His third defense of this title went down in boxing history (Ring Magazine's 1990 Fight of the Year) as he attempted to unify it with the Meldrick Taylor's IBF light welterweight title. When the two fighters entered the twelfth and final round of the fight, the scorecards were in favor of Taylor, and Chavez risked his first professional loss. However, Chavez managed to come through, knocking Taylor to the canvas with only a quarter of a minute left in the bout. Taylor got back to his feet but was still out, and the fight was waved off with an official time of two seconds remaining in the bout. It was over two years later, in September of 1992, that Chavez had his next really big fight in defending his WBC light welterweight title against the loud-mouthed Hector "Macho" Camacho, a fight that both had been looking forward to for a long time and Chavez's first main event on a PPV. Though Camacho ran or held much of the fight Chavez managed to get in a good deal of punishment and won a convincing decision over the challenger.
In September of 1993, Chavez found himself in yet another controversial fight. Fighting both for the WBC Welterweight and, in the opinion of some, for the pound-for-pound championship, his fight against Pernell Whitaker lasted the twelve rounds and ended in a majority draw, which many disputed saying that Chavez would have lost the decision if not for promoter Don King's influence.
Chavez finally lost his undefeated record in a January 1994 match with Frankie Randall. In this fight Chavez suffered the first knockdown of his career and then was penalized for low blows in the 7th and 11th to loose a twelve round split decision, losing his WBC light welterweight belt. In May of that year, however, he won it back from Randall with an eight-round technical decision after the fight was stopped due to a headbutt. Chavez then offered a shot at his title to Meldrick Taylor, though it was probably a bit late for that rematch, and won with an eighth round TKO.
In June of 1996, a superfight was made between Chavez and upcoming superstar Oscar De La Hoya. With his WBC light welterweight title on the line, Chavez suffered the second loss of his career when he suffered a bad cut, and the fight was stopped. He accumulated a few more wins before attempting to win back the title. De La Hoya had vacated it in a move up to welterweight, so a fight was set between Chavez and Miguel Angel Gonzalez (March 1998) to determine the new champion. Most ringside scorers had the fight for Gonzalez, but the official decision was another draw.
Chavez tried for a rematch with De la Hoya in September 1998. This time the fight would be for De la Hoya's WBC welterweight title. It went for a full eight rounds before Chavez's corner stopped the fight due to a bad cut once again, this time on the lip of Chavez.
After a couple of minor fights, Chavez was preparing for another title shot. Kostya Tszyu was ready to give him a chance at winning back his old WBC lightweight title, but the world was shocked when Chavez lost by decision in a tune-up against the unknown Willy Wise (Ring Magazine's 1999 Upset of the Year). For another tune-up fight in December, though, he didn't take his training so lightly and TKO'ed Buck Smith in three rounds to get back on track for his title shot. The fight with Tszyu took place in 2000. It was a tough fight with some wrestling as well as boxing, and Chavez was stopped in the sixth round. He would not get another title shot.
Chavez had only one fight in the following three years, but he wanted at least to avenge his loss to Willy Wise before retiring for good. In November of 2003, he did so, although his second-round TKO win came only after the fight was stopped on cuts. On the same card, Chavez's two oldest sons also fought. Julio Cesar Jr. got a first round knockout in his second pro fight, and Omar made his amateur debut in an exhibition bout. All three fought again on Chavez's "Farewell to Mexico" fight in May of 2004, in which he had his long overdue rubbermatch against Frankie Randall and won an unanimous decision.
In May 2005, Chavez made yet another stop on his farewell tour, beating Ivan Robinson in Los Angeles on another card featuring JC Jr. However, a hand injury from that fight resulted in a final loss for Chavez, as he was forced to retire in his corner during his fight with Grover Wiley in September of that year. After months of waiting to see if the hand would heal, Chavez announced his official retirement at the end of January 2006. The focus now is on helping his son Julio Jr. in his career and working on a possible biographical movie.