When we think of a famous four in boxing, the first that comes to mind is of course the four kings – Duran, Hagler, Hearns, and Leonard.
They without a doubt captured the imagination of fans and came into an era of boxing that highlighted the best fighting the best!
But behind the scenes in the featherweight divisions, there were arguably a more exciting four that captured the heart and brutality of the sport of boxing. This was of course The Ferocious Four:
- Bobby ‘Schoolboy’ Chacon,
- Rafael ‘Bazooka’ Limon,
- Cornelius Boza-Edwards
- Rolando ‘Bad Boy of Dadiangas’ Navarette
Now, I am mainly aware of these fighters because of the likes of Alexis Arguello. He defeated all four of them, as the Nicaraguan went on his way to getting a triple crown of becoming a 3 weight world champion and hall of famer. But the term ‘The Ferocious Four’ is something I was unaware of until I received a comment by a viewer on my YouTube Channel.
Sure I had heard of them all, but after doing some research, I found this article by Kyle McLachlan of The Fight Site, who coined this set of fighters as ‘The Ferocious Four’. He also goes into great detail in terms of the history and ranking of their fights.
It’s a tremendous read and highly recommend you check out Kyle’s article here after reading this.
After watching the majority of the fights between each of them now, there is no denying Kyle was right in his description of ‘Ferocious’. And I must admit, it’s shame these true warriors are not talked about in the same light as the Four Kings are.
A way of looking at it is, that these four fighters very much had all had the hardened determination of a ‘Rocky’ while the four kings were the more charismatic flash and a dash of Appolo Creed.
In this article, I wanted to share with you some of the details of each of their backgrounds and their styles of fighting. So on that note let’s get right into it.
You can watch my video version below:
Bobby ‘Schoolboy’ Chacon
Chacon was an American who came of Mexican descent and actually got his nickname ‘schoolboy’ as he turned professional when he was a student at California State.
If you look at who Chacon actually fought, he pretty much fought everyone you can think of in that era of featherweights and super featherweights.
When he was coming up through the ranks he had an impressive win over Castillo before going on to face the legendary Ruben Oliveres only to be knocked out. However, he would get revenge a couple of years later. After this defeat, he would come back and defeat future world champion and town rival Danny Little Red’ Lopez.
However, it was his classic fights with Rafael Limon that many remember as they fought four times. For Chacon, this includes 2 wins, 1 loss, and a draw. He would also have two entertaining fights with Boza-Edwards where he would lose the first fight but win the second a couple of years later.
Despite providing entertainment in the ring, Chacon had a very tragic life outside. His wife Valorie who he had three children, begged him to stop fighting at one point, as she couldn’t handle the aftermath of him getting hurt. His wife eventually committed suicide as she begged him to retire.
Chacon has never been very good at retiring. He tried it about four times and it never worked.
Even when his wife threatened to commit suicide, he couldn’t quit. Even when his wife committed suicide, he couldn’t quitThe Los Angeles Times
He actually fought a few days later after his wife’s suicide. Winning by knockout after arranging the funeral arrangements. One of his sons later in life would then be killed in a gang slaying, and he would lose most of his life savings from boxing before being diagnosed with dementia and passing away in a hospice in 2016 at 65.
A really sad end to his life in what was a legendary career. I recommend you look more into Chacon’s story as he really typifies what a true fighter is in the ring, but also a man who hid his demons by choosing to fight.
Chacon’s Boxing Style
In terms of his boxing style, Chacon was your rugged street fighter brawler style. He would simply give it everything to win a fight. If it meant he had to take a huge blow to land one. He certainly would make that sacrifice.
For me, he was one of those fighters that would have the mentality of live-or-die in the arena and was an exceptional warrior. If you were to push him back, he do his best to time you with the right hand or throw wide looping hooks to once again put everything on the line to win.
Defensively he could actually be quite elusive as he would use lots of upper body movement to dodge punches. Chacon could also box too and would utilize his jab to get him into range, however, would almost always favor a battle instead of the sweet science. As he knew he had the punching power to hurt you.
His wins over Limon in 1982 and Edwards in 1983, were both named Ring Magazine fights of the year. I highly recommend you watch both of those fights.
Chacon would finish with a record of 58 (47Ko’s) 7 – 1.
Rafael ‘Bazooka’ Limon
Next of the four, we have Rafael Limon from Mexico who also has a fascinating story. He took up boxing after joining the Mexican army in the 70s. It was Limon who witnessed some friends’ boxing and was challenged by an on-duty officer to fight.
Limon decided to give it a go only to realize he had many talents for the sweet science, but probably in a more violent way! No doubt his ‘Bazooka’ nickname is a reference to his time in the army.
In terms of his career, it was no doubt defined by his 4 battles with Bobby Chacon. Limon actually won the first encounter against the favorite Chacon, who no doubt underestimated him saying:
“I thought I was fighting a bum in Mexicali”.Bobby Chacon after facing Limon in their first fight
Limón would then go on to challenge WBC super featherweight champion Alexis Argüello suffering a knockout. Following this, he would fight Chacon again only for an accidental clash of heads resulting in a technical draw.
The pair met for the third time for their rubber match in 1980, but this time Chacon earned a 10-round split decision. Limon claimed a robbery after the fight.
In spite of this, Limón found himself fighting later that year for the world title. Knocking out Venezuela’s Bethelmy to become the WBC super featherweight champion.
Limon made his first defense against another of the ferocious four in Cornelius Boza-Edwards, losing a fifteen-round unanimous decision. Before Limón met Bobby Chacon for their final brutal battle. Barry Westgate sums up this fight perfectly.
I know this, from what I watched Saturday. The real victims are the survivors.
There is nothing in sport that can be more brutal than this was—the WBC super featherweight title fight between Rafael Limon and challenger Bobby Chacon.
For blood sport it was a classic.
It was a bloody, murderous, shredding battery that must have left marks that will never be healed.— Barry Westgate
I know I’ve just mentioned it, but I highly recommend you watch this fight below.
Limon’s Boxing Style
In terms of Limon’s boxing style, he was an aggressive southpaw who epitomizes the Mexcian Warrior. For one thing, he loved going to the body of his opponents.
When on the inside he would throw wide looping hooks to the body before going up top. I have to admit, he was actually very good at transitioning his shots and he would always throw with mean intentions.
I guess my only issue would be, that he would leave himself open far too often, which would lead to him getting countered and hurt on many occasions. He obviously boxed well past his prime and was very much a gatekeeper for the likes of Hector Camacho and Julio Ceaser Chavez, But his style certainly was like his nickname, he was aiming to destroy!
Out of The Ferocious Four, he has the most losses at 23. But he did pick up 11 of those defeats after his final fight with Chacon.
Next up we have a true Warrior from Uganda Boza-Edwards who took up the sport at a young in his native country training with fellow countryman and middleweight legend John Mugabi.
Cornelius would not stay in Uganda for too long and moved to England with his mentor Jack Edwards (An Englishman) due to the political turmoil going on in Uganda under the Amin dictatorship.
He would then compete in the British Amateur system aiming to go to the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He would miss out and try instead to represent Uganda, but his dreams of competing in the Olympics would not work out as Uganda would boycott whilst he was there. This meant only one thing for Cornelious, going pro.
Boza-Edwards would have a tremendous start to his career as he would get 22 KOs in his first 26 fights. Before getting his big opportunity to fight the star Alexis Arguello after an opponent pulled out. Boza, was moving down in weight, but Arguello’s talent proved too much for him as he was stopped in 8 rounds.
However, like many in boxing history, fighting against the best can lead to more opportunities. Arguello moved up in weight and Limon would eventually win his vacant title.
Boza would finally get the opportunity against the Mexican in what would be an all-time southpaw classic fight in my opinion.
It was an intriguing style match-up as both men were southpaws. Limon, as usual, would try to throw his huge wide shots, use aggression and go to the body…which sometimes went a bit low. While Boza on the other hand was a lot more schooled due to his amateur pedigree.
The fight overall was very entertaining, with some dirty play from Limon, the last two rounds being spectacular and Corneilous becoming a deserved world champion. It has to be for me one of the best all-time southpaw clashes.
Boza-Edwards would then go on to fight the other two of the ferocious. Defeating Chacon in their first fight in another convincing display. However, he was shocked in his next fight vs the unknown Rolando Navarette at the time and would be knocked out in 5 rounds.
Boza would only get two more title fights after losing this title, however, his rematch with Chacon in 1983 would prove to be a fight of the year, in what was meant to be a title fight. But this time Chacon would get his revenge.
Boza-Edwards Boxing Style
In terms of his style of fighting, he was definitely your traditional Boxer-Puncher. His amateur pedigree meant he had all the solid fundamentals and could box on the outside and use his jab to set up his other combinations.
It also helped that he was a southpaw and would use this to his advantage to set up his straight left down the middle. He could find himself getting into battles, but his mix of styles made Boza-Edwards probably the best in terms of his skill set.
In a way, he reminds me very much of how Errol Spence Jr fights, especially when on the inside attacking the body. Boza-Edwards is now actually based at the Mayweather gym in Vegas, so maybe Errol picked up a thing or two from him when he went spar and train there.
Boza-Edwards finished with a record of 45 (34Kos)-1-7.
The final of The Ferocious Four is the Filipino Bad Boy from Dadiangas, Rolando Navarette. Coming up through the ranks in the Philipinnes he was fairly unknown to many, by the time he started fighting in America.
He would get his first-world title shot against Alexis Arguello, but like the other three on this list would suffer defeat the quickest in four rounds. Nevertheless, he would just have to wait just over a year to get a shot again against Boza-Edwards where he pulled off a huge upset in a knockout win. Here is what Cornelius had to say about him when talking to the ring magazine:
“Rolando was short, looks small, but he’s physically strong. I found that out in the ring. I thought I’d beat the crap out of him, but you’re looking at a miniature [Manny] Pacquiao. Those Filipinos have legs like tree-trunks. He was the strongest in terms of strength and hitting power. You push him off and he’s not going anywhere.”Boza-Edwards talking to The Ring Magazine
He would then go on to face Limon a couple of fight laters. It was a fight of two halves with Navaratte winning in the first before Bazooka would knock out the Mexican in the 12th round in a fight that was an interesting southpaw battle between two sluggers.
From here it was never the same Navaratte as he certainly lived up to his Bad Body nickname, being arrested in Hawaii for a sex crime and sent to jail for three years.
After being released from prison he would try to make a comeback, even fighting Limon again years later when both were past their primes. Navarrete got his revenge with a 10-round decision.
Navarrete’s Boxing Style
In terms of his boxing style, he of course relied on his southpaw slugger style, to close the distance so he could set up his huge power punchers. As he was smaller than most, it was definitely best to keep on on the outside, even Limon did a good job at times keeping him a bay.
He had a devastating right hook which Boza-Edward felt the full effect of and was definitely a punch you wouldn’t want to get hit cleanly by.
It’s a shame the fight with Chacon never happened, but no doubt that would’ve been a fight that could’ve happened if Rolando didn’t go to jail.
Troubles outside the ring left Navarrete with no money and the former world champion now sells fish in Santos City, earning him 800 pesos or about $16 a day. A sad outcome, but maybe deserved considering what he had done.
Final thoughts on The Ferocious Four
The Ferocious Four for me clearly doesn’t get talked about enough and you would think due to the brutal battles these men had, they would be talked about more often in boxing circles and the media.
They all have their own fascinating individual stories, with each having to battle demons in their personal lives. Maybe that is what made them all so ferocious in the ring? The pain and heartbreak from their lives growing up and personal lives saw this manifest in the ring as a storm of brutality and ferociousness.
I hope this article will help you take a deeper dive into these four.
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