Frankie Randall- First To Defeat Chavez- Died Wednesday
With the days dwindling down on 2020 comes the sad news that the fighter who holds the distinction of being the first to ever defeat Hall of Famer Julio Cesar Chavez has passed away.
Frankie Randall died in a Tennessee nursing home from complications from dementia, drug and alcohol abuse on Wednesday. He was 59.
Known as “The Surgeon,” Randall’s career began as an outstanding, multi-time Golden Glove amateur champion from Tennessee. But, he was denied a chance to represent the United States in the Olympics, when the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Moscow games.
Undaunted, Randall turned professional the next year and rattled off 23 straight pro wins rocketing up the rankings in the Super Lightweight division. He suffered his first pro loss to fellow, future World Champ, Edwin Rosario a 10-round decision in 1985.
However, Randall with his slick boxing style and fast combinations put himself in position for another potential World title chance, by eventually winning 17 fights in a row. That got him a shot in January, 1994 in Las Vegas for the WBC Super Lightweight Championship against Chavez.
The Mexican superstar had an astounding 89 – 0 – 1 record, when Randall out fought him over the course of a 12 round split-decision win.
It was not without controversy, as referee Richard Steele correctly deducted points from Chavez in two different rounds for low blows. Randall also scored an 11th round knock down that Chavez and his camp claimed was a slip. However, that knockdown turned out to be the difference in the fight by one point on one judge’s card, to have Randall’s hand raised in victory.
Randall became an even more massive favorite son in East Tennessee after the Chavez win. That’s where, he had followed in the footsteps of former Knoxville native and early 80s, WBA World Champ “Big John” Tate.
Just four months after the upset, Randall and Chavez had another controversial rematch that Randall was actually winning until an accidental butt cut Chavez and the fight was stopped for a technical decision in the eighth round.
There was also an obscure rule from the WBC that Randall had to be penalized for the accidental butt stopping the fight and the judges were then to score the 8th round. And because of that deduction, one judge’s card flipped in favor of Chavez to win on an 8 round technical split decision and regain his title.
Randall captured the WBA version of the 130 lb. title in his next fight and defended it twice before losing it.
Unfortunately, for Randall those two losses signaled a downward spiral, where he not only repeatedly lost but was being knocked out or stopped over and over, again. At one point in the late 90s and early 2000s, Randall lost seven fights in a row most by KO. He suffered KO or stoppage in four defeats in his final five fights before before finally retiring in July of 2005.
Those KO losses coupled with his known drug and alcohol abuse later in his career and post boxing life contributed to his mental problems.
Randall’s son had given an interview with Ring TV earlier this year saying that his father was in dire mental and physical situation in the Tennessee facility that said in part,
“It has been hard to watch my father become a shell of what he used to be. It almost seems like he is stuck in time. I feel like he will wake up and be his normal self again, but that is not the case – this is a new fight. People will remember Frankie Randall the boxer, but it’s my dad, my hero, just sitting there, slowing down. It’s been a challenge, and the challenge has become my fight.”
The same fighting spirit that made Frankie Randall a three time World Champ.