Originally created 04/15/04

Ex-champ Chavez to step into ring for farewell fight in Mexico City



MEXICO CITY -- Julio Cesar Chavez will end his career with a farewell bout against Frankie Randall entitled "Goodbye Mexico ... Thanks."

The 41-year-old native of the northern state of Sinaloa said Wednesday he hopes to "fight the fight of my life" against the 42-year-old American. He will permanently retire after the bout.

Chavez and Randall will meet May 22 in Mexico City at the 45,000-seat Monumental Plaza, the world's largest bullfighting ring.

Chavez (105-5-2, 85 KOs) once held WBC titles in three weight classes. His first loss in 91 fights came against Randall, who beat him to capture the WBC super lightweight title in Las Vegas on Jan. 29, 1994.

Four months later, Chavez recovered to beat Randall in a majority decision.

"Win or lose, I'm going to put on a great show," Chavez said at a news conference with Randall. "Humble, poor, rich, thanks to all for the support you have always given me."

Jose Sulaiman, president of the Mexico City-based World Boxing Council, said organizers plan to show the fight on television screens that will be set up in the heart of the Mexican capital's historic city center, allowing those who can't afford to be there in person to catch a final glimpse of the fighter known to fans simply as "JC."

"It will really be a national tribute," Sulaiman said.

Though Chavez has been mostly inactive in recent years and fallen from the world boxing spotlight, he continues to enjoy living-legend stature in his homeland.

More than 10,000 fans packed a small venue in Tijuana in November to watch Chavez stop Willie Wise in the second round after an inadvertent head butt from Chavez opened a deep gash above the American's eye. Billed as "Chavez Forever," that bout made headlines across the country.

Chavez drew the then-largest crowd in boxing history when 130,000 fans packed the cavernous Azteca Stadium to watch him finish off American Greg Henderson in the fifth round Feb. 20, 1993.

"If we filled Azteca, I think we can fill the plaza," Chavez said.

Randall enters the fight with a career mark of 59-42-1.

"I'm coming to Mexico to fight a good fight and to win," he said.

The May 22 undercard features Mexican ex-champions Jose Antonio Aguirre and Miguel Angel Gonzalez, as well as Chavez's son, who has the same name as his father.