BEFORE even stepping into the ring with fearsome WBC light-welterweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez on February 20, 1993, Greg Haugen had already given the expected record attendance a reason to hate him – by claiming the champion had only reached his record of 84-0 by fighting ‘Tijuana taxi drivers’ and even going so far as to suggest that there were not even 130,000 Mexicans who could afford a ticket to the fight. He said: “Look at his first 50 fights. If you recognise those names, you are a boxing historian. They’re nothing but palookas. Am I supposed to be scared?”
The 32-year-old challenger – a former IBF lightweight and WBO light-welterweight boss – had built his gritty reputation through a series of ‘Tough Guy’ contests in the bars of Anchorage, Alaska, and his claims of getting arrested and thrown out of school every weekend as a teenager.
Chavez, 30, was arguably the toughest, and best, pound-for-pound fighter on the planet at the time and had set himself the unprecedented goal in modern boxing of reaching 100 fights without defeat. Nobody was tipping Haugen to ruin that feat. The only threats to this appeared to be the WBC light-middleweight champion Terry Norris, at a catchweight, and IBF light-welterweight champion Pernell Whitaker.