Esteban de Jesús (August 2, 1950 – May 11, 1989) was a Puerto Rican world lightweight champion boxer. De Jesús, a native of the town of Carolina, Puerto Rico, was a gymmate of Wilfred Benítez and was trained by Benitez's father, Gregorio Benitez. He was the first boxer to defeat Roberto Durán as a pro, and the only fighter to defeat Duran during his lightweight reign. His career was mired in controversy, problems, and scandals.
Esteban de Jesús
|Born||August 2, 1950|
Carolina, Puerto Rico
|Died||May 11, 1989 (aged 38)|
San Juan, Puerto Rico
|Height||5 ft 4+1⁄2 in (164 cm)|
|Reach||67 in (170 cm)|
|Wins by KO||32|
Professional career edit
De Jesús debuted as a professional in 1969, he won his first twenty fights, thirteen by knockout. He then stepped up in class, for the first time, when he boxed future world title challenger Josue Marquez in 1971, beating him in a twelve-round decision to claim the Puerto Rican national Lightweight championship.. His next fight was a fourth-round knockout victory over Victor Ortíz. After that, there was a rematch with Marquez, who was beaten again, also over twelve rounds, to retain the Puerto Rican Lightweight title.
Next came his first international fight, in Caracas, Venezuela, against the future four-time world title challenger Leonel Hernandez. De Jesús won the ten round fight by unanimous decision in what was the start of a four fight tour of Venezuela. That Venezuelan campaign ended with a ten-round decision loss against former world champion Antonio Gomez in Caracas.
1972 was a pivotal year in de Jesús' career. He won six fights in a row, including a twelve-round knockout win in a third fight with Marquez to again retain the Puerto Rican Lightweight title, and a ten-round decision over Doug McClendon. Despite all the wins, he was virtually unknown to most boxing fans. That changed quickly in his last fight of 1972 against the undefeated new world's Lightweight champion Roberto Durán at the Madison Square Garden arena. In a televised bout that marked the beginning of the "Durán - de Jesús trilogy", de Jesús dropped Durán in round one and went on to inflict Durán's first defeat in a ten-round decision.
In 1973, he was rewarded for his efforts, receiving a chance to challenge Ray Lampkin for the North American Boxing Federation lightweight belt. He won the vacant title by beating Lampkin in a twelve-round decision. He went on to beat Johnny Gant and Raul Montoya in ten-round decisions and beat Lampkin by decision in a rematch in New York. He finished 1973 with a first-round knockout win over fringe contender Al Foster.
He began 1974 by knocking out former world Jr. Welterweight champion Alfonso "Peppermint" Frazer in ten rounds in San Juan, Puerto Rico, after which he traveled to Panama City to receive his first world title shot and, at the same time, face Durán in the second fight of their trilogy. He once again dropped Durán in round one, but this time Durán rebounded and dominated the bout, retaining the title in an eleventh-round knockout. He recovered from that defeat with two more wins before the end of the year.
In 1975, he went up in weight briefly, and after beating Jesse Lara by a knockout in three, he returned to Panama City to challenge Colombia's Antonio Cervantes for the world's Jr. Welterweight title, losing in a fifteen-round decision. He beat Rudy Barros by knockout in round five to end that year, and started 1976 by beating Valentin Ramos by knockout in round two.
Next came his third world title try when the WBC's world Lightweight champion Ishimatsu Suzuki of Japan traveled to Puerto Rico to defend his title against de Jesús. The third time proved to be the charm for de Jesús, who won the world title by beating Suzuki in a fifteen-round decision. He retained the title against Hector Medina with a knockout in round seven.
In 1977, he retained the title against Buzzsaw Yamabe by knockout in round six and against Vicente Mijares Saldivar by knockout in round eleven.
1978 began with the third and final chapter of his trilogy with Durán. In a title unification bout in Las Vegas, which displayed Durán at the peak of his power, Durán systematically broke down de Jesús resulting in a twelfth-round knockout.
De Jesús rebounded with three wins before the end of that year, including one over former world title challenger Edwin Viruet.
In 1979, he had two more wins, including one over Jimmy Blevins. After beating José Vallejo by a knockout in round seven in San Juan to start 1980, he traveled to Bloomington, Minnesota, to challenge Saoul Mamby for Mamby's WBC world Jr. Welterweight title, in the major supporting event of the Larry Holmes-Scott Le Doux world heavyweight championship bout's undercard. In what turned out to be his last fight, he was beaten by a knockout in thirteen rounds.
His record was 57 wins and 5 losses, with 32 wins by knockout.
Professional boxing record edit
|62 fights||57 wins||5 losses|
|62||Loss||57–5||Saoul Mamby||TKO||13 (15)||1980-07-07||Metropolitan Sports Center, Bloomington, Minnesota, U.S.||For WBC super lightweight title|
|61||Win||57–4||José Vallejo||KO||7 (10)||1980-05-10||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|60||Win||56–4||Ruby Ortiz||UD||10 (10)||1979-11-09||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|59||Win||55–4||Jimmy Blevins||UD||10 (10)||1979-10-04||Felt Forum, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|58||Win||54–4||Edwin Viruet||SD||10 (10)||1978-10-27||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|57||Win||53–4||Chuchu Hernandez||TKO||2 (?)||1978-07-08||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|56||Win||52–4||Pablo Baez||TKO||3 (10)||1978-06-03||Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|55||Loss||51–4||Roberto Durán||TKO||12 (15)||1978-01-21||Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.||Lost WBC/WBA/The Ring lightweight unification match|
|54||Win||51–3||James Brackett||PTS||10 (10)||1977-09-10||Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|53||Win||50–3||Vicente Mijares||KO||11 (15)||1977-06-25||Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium, Bayamon, Puerto Rico||Retained WBC lightweight title|
|52||Win||49–3||Buzzsaw Yamabe||TKO||6 (15)||1977-02-12||Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium, Bayamon, Puerto Rico||Retained WBC lightweight title|
|51||Win||48–3||Hector Julio Medina||KO||7 (15)||1976-09-10||Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium, Bayamon, Puerto Rico||Retained WBC lightweight title|
|50||Win||47–3||Guts Ishimatsu||UD||15 (15)||1976-05-08||Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium, Bayamon, Puerto Rico||Won WBC lightweight title|
|49||Win||46–3||Valente Ramos||TKO||2 (?)||1976-03-06||Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|48||Win||45–3||Rudy Barro||TKO||5 (?)||1975-10-11||Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|47||Loss||44–3||Antonio Cervantes||UD||15 (15)||1975-05-17||Gimnasio Nuevo Panama, Panama City, Panama||For WBA super lightweight title|
|46||Win||44–2||Jesse Lara||KO||3 (?)||1975-03-15||El Poliedro, Caracas, Venezuela|
|45||Win||43–2||Javier Ayala||PTS||10 (10)||1974-09-02||Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|44||Win||42–2||Gerardo Ferrat||TKO||5 (?)||1974-06-10||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|43||Loss||41–2||Roberto Durán||KO||11 (15)||1974-03-16||Gimnasio Nuevo Panama, Panama City, Panama||For WBA lightweight title|
|42||Win||41–1||Alfonso Frazer||KO||10 (10)||1974-01-07||Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|41||Win||40–1||Al Foster||KO||1 (10)||1973-11-22||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|40||Win||39–1||Miguel Mayan||PTS||10 (10)||1973-10-29||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|39||Win||38–1||Radames Checo||KO||1 (12)||1973-09-08||Gimnasio Nuevo Panama, Panama City, Panama|
|38||Win||37–1||Ray Lampkin||UD||12 (12)||1973-07-14||Felt Forum, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained NABF lightweight title|
|37||Win||36–1||Raul Montoya||PTS||10 (10)||1973-05-21||Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|36||Win||35–1||Johnny Gant||UD||10 (10)||1973-04-16||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|35||Win||34–1||Ray Lampkin||UD||12 (12)||1973-02-16||Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico||Won vacant NABF lightweight title|
|34||Win||33–1||Roberto Durán||UD||10 (10)||1972-11-17||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|33||Win||32–1||Doc McClendon||PTS||10 (10)||1972-10-30||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|32||Win||31–1||Raimundo Dias||PTS||10 (10)||1972-09-18||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|31||Win||30–1||Chuck Wilburn||UD||10 (10)||1972-07-28||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|30||Win||29–1||Angel Robinson Garcia||PTS||10 (10)||1972-07-08||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|29||Win||28–1||Josue Marquez||TKO||12 (12)||1972-05-01||Felt Forum, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained Puerto Rican lightweight title|
|28||Win||27–1||George Foster||TKO||8 (10)||1972-04-10||Felt Forum, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|27||Win||26–1||Percy Hayles||UD||10 (10)||1972-02-18||Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|26||Win||25–1||Milton Mendez||KO||5 (?)||1971-11-30||Caracas, Venezuela|
|25||Win||24–1||Johnny Harp||UD||10 (10)||1971-11-19||Parque Isidoro García, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico|
|24||Win||23–1||Frank Leroy||KO||5 (10)||1971-10-30||La Cancha Country Club, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|23||Win||22–1||Josue Marquez||UD||12 (12)||1971-09-04||Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico||Retained Puerto Rican lightweight title|
|22||Win||21–1||Victor Ortiz||TKO||5 (10)||1971-08-07||Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|21||Win||20–1||Josue Marquez||PTS||12 (12)||1971-07-24||San Juan, Puerto Rico||Won Puerto Rican lightweight title|
|20||Win||19–1||Armando Mendoza||TKO||6 (10)||1971-06-05||Nuevo Circo, Caracas, Venezuela|
|19||Win||18–1||Leonel Hernandez||UD||10 (10)||1971-05-03||Palacio de Deportes, Caracas, Venezuela|
|18||Win||17–1||Gustavo Briceno||UD||10 (10)||1971-04-24||La Cancha Country Club, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|17||Loss||16–1||Antonio Gómez||UD||10 (10)||1971-02-27||Nuevo Circo, Caracas, Venezuela|
|16||Win||16–0||Jose Llanos||KO||7 (10)||1970-10-24||Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|15||Win||15–0||Johnny Sandoval||UD||10 (10)||1970-08-22||La Cancha Country Club, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|14||Win||14–0||Jose Jimenez||TKO||5 (10)||1970-07-30||Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|13||Win||13–0||Coverly Kid Daniels||KO||2 (?)||1970-05-20||Parque Isidoro García, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico|
|12||Win||12–0||Ike Estrada||KO||2 (?)||1970-05-02||La Cancha Country Club, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|11||Win||11–0||Jose Jimenez||PTS||10 (10)||1970-04-30||Ponce, Puerto Rico|
|10||Win||10–0||Bobby Parnell||TKO||1 (10)||1970-03-28||La Cancha Country Club, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|9||Win||9–0||Braulio Rodriguez||TKO||8 (10)||1970-02-28||La Cancha Country Club, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|8||Win||8–0||Chino Guerrero||TKO||3 (10)||1970-02-14||La Cancha Country Club, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|7||Win||7–0||Ramon Dominguez||TKO||2 (10)||1970-01-24||La Cancha Country Club, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|6||Win||6–0||Ivelaw Eastman||KO||5 (6)||1969-11-22||Country Club Stadium, Carolina, Puerto Rico|
|5||Win||5–0||Tommy Sheffield||TKO||2 (6)||1969-10-18||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|4||Win||4–0||Ramon Montes||TKO||1 (6)||1969-09-27||La Cancha Country Club, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|3||Win||3–0||Johnny Sandoval||UD||6 (6)||1969-08-23||La Cancha Country Club, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|2||Win||2–0||Francisco Maldonado||KO||3 (6)||1969-08-02||La Cancha Country Club, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|1||Win||1–0||Braulio Rodriguez||TKO||4 (4)||1969-07-19||Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
Crime, commuted sentence and death edit
On November 27, 1980, in what became a famous case in Puerto Rico, after having injected himself with cocaine, de Jesús was involved in a traffic dispute with 17-year-old Roberto Cintron Gonzalez, which ended in de Jesús fatally shooting Gonzalez in the head. De Jesús was sentenced to life in prison. There, he excelled in another sport, baseball, making the Puerto Rico penal system all star team three times. In 1984, he became a born-again Christian and started to turn his life around, becoming a preacher.
In 1985, he learned that his brother Enrique, with whom he had shared needles, had died of AIDS. De Jesús tested positive for the virus, and symptoms began to appear. After it became public knowledge that de Jesús had acquired HIV and had become a sufferer of AIDS, governor Rafael Hernández Colón commuted his sentence.
After returning to spend his last days with his family, de Jesús was visited by many celebrities, including hall of fame baseball player Orlando Cepeda, Salsa music superstar Cheo Feliciano and his old nemesis Roberto Durán. Durán hugged and kissed de Jesús and told his daughter to do the same. This event was witnessed by José Torres who said he was amazed to see Durán's compassionate gesture as he lifted de Jesús out of his bed and hugged him at a time when so little was known and so much feared about AIDS.
Esteban de Jesús died one month after being released, at the age of 38.
See also edit
- "The Cautionary Tale of Boxer Esteban De Jesús".
- "Duran vs De Jesus: A Legendary Rivalry In Three Chapters". The Fight City. October 9, 2018.
- Rogers, Thomas (May 13, 1989). "Esteban de Jesus Is Dead at 37; Former Lightweight Champion". The New York Times.
- "Ex-Boxing Champion Esteban DeJesus, Drug Addict Who Had AIDS, Dies at 37". Los Angeles Times. May 13, 1989.