Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini Reflects On Friend And Former Rival, Bobby Chacon
By: Sean Crose
Make no mistake about it, boxing lost a legend Wednesday when Bobby Chacon passed away at the way too young age of 64 in his native California. Having suffered from brain damage for some time, the former television star finally succumbed to the results of a fall. Having blasted his way to stardom in the 70s and 80s as a featherweight and junior lightweight champion, as well as a ferocious lightweight contender, Chacon faced some of the biggest names of a red hot era, where boxing was a television staple.
Tragedy, however, was to hold a prominent place in Chacon’s life. Aside from the brain damage that was to plague him in later years, Chacon lived through the brutality of a wife’s suicide and a son’s murder. He was also a reputed alcoholic. Still, each man is a sum of his parts and there were many parts of Chacon to admire. For here was a true warrior who engaged in battle with the likes of Alexis Arguello, Cornelius Boza-Edwards and Rafael “Bazooka” Limon (on four separate occasions, no less); quite a resume for any fighter.
Indeed, one of the more famous opponents Chacon faced was legendary lightweight champ Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. Chacon was stopped by the Youngstown, Ohio native in that January 1984 encounter. Mancini made it clear to Boxing Insider on Wednesday night, however, that he held his former rival in the highest regard. Indeed, the history of the two Hall of Fame fighters extended beyond the ring.
“The day of the press conference in NYC for my fight against Bobby,” Mancini stated, “I invited Bobby to dinner that night. I took him down to Little Italy, Mulberry Street.”
It proved to be a memorable evening for WBA world lightweight champion.
“He was eating,” Mancini recalled, “like he was going to the ‘electric chair.’ He says to me,’ Ray, I gotta put on weight, I can afford to eat.’ I said to him, ‘Ya, Bobby I know, but I don’t want you eatin’ your way up to the next weight class!’”
Mancini also learned that Chacon had a taste for more than just Italian food. He recalled that while training for their bout, Chacon was stationed “up near a brothel in Northern California.” Needless to say, Chacon would kiddingly blame his subsequent loss to Mancini on his surroundings in the lead up to their fight in Reno. Sure enough, Mancini recalled Chacon saying that his close proximity to the brothel caused him to lose his legs for the fight.
“When I used to see Bobby,” Mancini claimed, “he’d say, ‘Ray, there were too many of them, what was I supposed to do?’ I said, ‘Bobby, if I had known that, I would’ve sent more!’ He’d always laugh about it and give me a hug.”
Although he can laugh at the memories, it’s clear Mancini is still impacted by the loss of his former rival. “My heart aches,” Mancini stated. “I truly loved him. As a friend, as a fighter but more so, as the man he was!!!”