And that, somewhat poignantly, set the scene for the final moment, when Steele waved the fight over. With a pained expression on his face, and in a moment of tenderness rarely seen in a prize ring, he gently held the cheeks of Taylor's disfigured face in the palms of his hands.
Chávez emerged with only a couple of nicks, on his nose and left eyebrow. Taylor landed 457 punches, Chávez 258, but Chávez was never really hurt. Taylor was, though had his corner instructed him simply to dance away from Chávez in the 12th, instead of trying to get in close, Taylor would have won the fight. Judge Jerry Roth had Taylor ahead 108-101, and Dave Moretti had him in front 107-102. The third judge, Chuck Giampa, though seen at ringside by numerous witnesses, had Chávez ahead 105-104. The wisdom of having three judges was never more apparent.
Chávez had never been in a fight like this one, and it humbled him. "He was faster than I," said Chávez. "He was stronger than I. I had the idea he would fight that way [inside]. I could not develop myself the way I wanted. I was very surprised at his hand speed. Meldrick Taylor deserves a rematch. He is a great fighter."
If there was little jubilation in the Chávez camp, among Taylor's seconds there was outrage. "Meldrick was up at five, and he was looking straight into Richard Steele's eyes," said Dan Duva. "Sugar Ray Leonard was down two times against Thomas Hearns, and they let him fight. It was clearly a bad call."
"It's a hell of a way to lose a fight," said Lou Duva. "After 11 rounds, two minutes and 58 seconds. Steele took the fight away from us. He had no right to stop it."
Lou Duva ought to reconsider his own actions in the bout's final chaotic seconds. In a Sunday afternoon press conference Taylor admitted that Duva's manic attempt to storm the ring may have diverted his attention from Steele. Taylor said that he turned to look at Duva as Steele intoned his eight-count. With his manager at the ring apron, Taylor may well have thought the fight was over, and in his muddled state he may not have been responsive to the referee's questions.
The damage inflicted upon Taylor was graphically evident the next day as he faced the press behind dark glasses, his face swollen and bruised. He had spent the night in Valley Hospital, where it was discovered that he had suffered a small fracture in the bone behind his left eye. He was also given a transfusion to replace the two pints of blood he had lost. Taylor said that he had endured blurred vision from the third round on and that he had been unable to see Chávez's right. Nevertheless, he was defiant. "My head was really clear." he said of Steele's decision to stop the fight. "I wasn't wobbly. It was a very traumatic thing for me. It was ludicrous."
Taylor and the Duvas will never be satisfied, but the action by Steele, one of boxing's most respected officials, was one that he alone was in a position to take. No matter the round or the score, Steele deemed Taylor unfit to absorb more punishment, and he did what he had to do. He did his job.