Legend holds that it was the first Chávez fight - among the most heartbreaking defeats snatched from the jaws of victory ever to be endured by a boxer, at least that we know of, in the modern filmed era - that put the proverbial boot on the wheels of this speedster, and ruined him forevermore. I'm not convinced... For two years thereafter, Meldrick would post similarly impressive form as during his initial undefeated rise prior to Chávez I. Sure, he took a beating, and sure a portion of his love of the game might have died that night (it would've been weird if he wasn't a little bitterly disgruntled after that), but he looked just fine against Primo Ramos in a rebound 10-rounder and then better than fine - in fact, excellent - against unbeaten Aaron Davis Sr. & Luis Gabriel García to become a 2-division world champion and make a successful defense of the WBA title at welterweight, and even still in a non-title stay-busy tuneup with green but tough southpaw Ernie Chávez. In this stretch from late 1990 until early 1992 he was every bit as sharp, fleet-handed, and fluid offensively and on front-foot defense as when he was surgically dissecting guys like Howard Davis Jr., Buddy McGirt and Jaime Balboa in the previous decade. It wasn't until his second WBA title defense that signs of diminishing returns on Taylor's prime began to emerge, surviving a disastrous first half in which Glenwood "The Real Beast" Brown dropped him twice, and scraping out a UD. Cracks of vulnerability there may indeed have been, yet smashing those fissures into yawning canyons would take a special talent. Along came Terry Norris, who IMO deserves more credit than JC Superstar for the ultimate ruination of Taylor, putting a violent punctuation mark on his prime once and for all. IMO even the Glenwood Brown version of Taylor would never lose to a mediocrity like Crisanto España, who knocked him out in eight rounds five months after the Norris destruction. España could whack, but was basic as hell and I can't envision him beating an early 90's TNT without his chin having been softened up in Terrible fashion. Of course we can posit all sorts of what-if scenarios had Richard Steele not stirred up so much controversy in the waning moments of Taylor vs. Chávez I. Had the last bell rung, and Taylor gotten the split decision he was deprived of, would he still have tromped up to 147lbs in a huff, or would he continue to reign at super lightweight for a time? Would the confidence of defeating Chávez and rightfully bagging that glittery prize of his "zero" rather than his confidence being rattled by coming so agonizingly close have meant that he didn't feel the need to resort to brawling and having mild scares against the likes of Brown? I couldn't tell ya - but what I do know is that jumping up to light middleweight and taking on Norris was an epic miscalculation on the part of chief handlers/co-trainers George Benton & Lou Duva. This matchmaking was a million kinds of "all wrong" for Taylor - who in truth was no welter, although he did manage to fare quite well there on account of his speed, power, and skill - as the naturally much larger and devastatingly hard counter-bombing (and himself quite fast) Norris was always going to mangle him and cut short his peak scrapping days. ...and then after those consecutive brutal losses to Norris and España, of course it would seem "the right time" for Chávez to bother giving him a rematch...draining him down to 140lbs again, to boot. Kind of a despicably transparent punk move by "La Leyenda", if you think about it.