"No, thank you," said a somber Luis Spada, manager of Rodolfo Aguilar, the World Boxing Association's No. 1 lightweight contender.
Spada had just spent a chilly Saturday night in the Las Vegas Hilton's stadium watching in quiet horror as Julio Cesar Chavez administered a nonstop beating to Edwin Rosario, the WBA's 135-pound champion, until referee Richard Steele took Rosario into protective custody at 2:36 of the 11th round.
To get a mandatory title fight for Aguilar, all Spada had to do was sign his name to a contract that had already been prepared, but doing that had lost its appeal. "There's no way I'm going to put my kid in with that Chavez," said Spada, who had made the long trip from Panama specifically to claim Aguilar's title rights. "I don't want to ruin his career. No title fight in the world is worth facing someone like that."
Moving up five pounds from the ranks of the super featherweights, where he has reigned as WBC champion since his eighth-round knockout of Mario Martinez on Sept. 13, 1984, Chavez may have fought his way into—and out of—the lightweight division in less than 33 minutes of fighting. In that brief span his swift, short hooks left Rosario nearly blind, with a shattered nose, a torn mouth and his body, if not broken, bent in agony. The next lightweight to face Chavez would have to be long on courage and short on smarts.
But then, as Chavez pointed out a few days before the bout with Rosario, he intends to tarry among the 135-pounders only long enough to unify the title before moving up to terrorize the junior welterweights. "After Rosario, I want to fight Jose Luis Ramirez, the World Boxing Council lightweight champion," said Chavez. "Then I can go after my third [different weight class] championship."
Someone asked Chavez if he wasn't forgetting the IBF, the International Boxing Federation, and its crowd-pleasing lightweight champ, Vinny Pazienza.
"What's an IBF?" said Chavez, whose record since turning pro in 1980, at age 17, stands at 55-0, with 46 knockouts.
Nine days before the fight, during a press conference in Los Angeles, Chavez was not feeling quite so merry. Tired of Rosario's name-calling and of taunts such as "I'm going to send you back to Mexico in a box, you coward," Chavez, who is from Culiac�n, Mexico, challenged the 24-year-old champion from Puerto Rico to a street fight. "Right now," Chavez snarled. "We'll find out who is the coward."
Ordinarily such prefight explosions are just so much hype, but this time Chavez seemed to mean it. "I'm a professional," countered a taken aback Rosario, who was getting paid $500,000 to fight Chavez in the ring. "I was calling him names, he was calling me names. I thought we were just helping promote the fight. I didn't know he was taking it all seriously."
Eyes snapping with fire, Chavez, who had signed for $400,000, said, "When it started, it was O.K. But Rosario has a big mouth, and the people around him have got big mouths. He went too far. When a man calls me what he called me, that's when the fight starts. To hell with the money. I had 200 fights in the street for nothing. What is one more fight for nothing?"