MEXICO CITY - It was one of the boxing matchups of the century - last century.
Julio Cesar Chavez earned a tough unanimous decision over Frankie Randall, the man who ended Chavez's amazing string of victories a decade ago. Chavez said it was the right way to end his illustrious career.
"I am really retiring from the ring tonight," a hoarse-voiced Chavez told the crowd shortly after his 10-round welterweight decision over Randall ended a little past midnight Sunday.
"I hope you have a little patience with my sons," he added, mentioning Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Omar Chavez who fought bouts earlier at the Plaza Monumental - the world's largest bullring - in a night billed as Chavez's "adios" to his Mexican fans.
Chavez, 41, had chosen Randall as the opponent to cap his career, which ends at 106-5-2 if he stays retired.
Randall, 42, knocked Chavez down for the first time in his career during an upset victory by decision in Las Vegas on Jan. 29, 1994.
That ended a string of 26 title defenses without a loss - and more than 40 undefeated fights in all - since Chavez had taken the WBC super featherweight title from Mario Martinez on Sept. 13, 1984.
Chavez, who was long considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, recovered to beat Randall in a super lightweight rematch four months later. He finally lost the title to Oscar de la Hoya in 1996.
"I congratulate Julio. He leaves as the greatest of all the Mexicans," said WBC President Jose Suleiman, referring to Mexico's history of top-flight boxers.
Randall, too, had said that this would be his last year in the ring - and possibly his last fight. If so, the three-time super lightweight champion would go out at 58-15-1.
The two were fit for their age, but seemed to tire rapidly. Each managed to score with combinations. Chavez's punches to the gut, his body turned but balanced behind the blow, sometimes inspired thoughts of his past glories.
Randall managed to fight back with punches to the head that broke though Chavez's defense.
But those moments were interspersed with the two weary fighters clutching one another to regain breath in the 7,200-foot atmosphere.
With Chavez obviously well past his prime, fans filled fewer than half the seats in the 45,000-seat bullring. In 1993, at Chavez's peak, he drew some 130,000 to a bout at Mexico's largest soccer stadium.
Earlier in the evening, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., 18, knocked little-known Juan Carlos Castillo to the canvas in a super featherweight bout. It was the eighth win without a loss and fourth knockout for Chavez Jr. Earlier, younger brother Omar fought a two-round amateur exhibition.
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