Esteban de Jesús
Esteban de Jesús (August 2, 1951 – May 11, 1989) was a Puerto Rican world lightweight champion boxer whose life was full of controversy, problems and scandals. De Jesus, a native of the town of Carolina, Puerto Rico, was a gymmate of Wilfred Benítez and an acquaintance of Benitez's mother, Clara Benítez. He was trained by Wilfredo's father and Clara's husband, Gregorio Benitez. He was the first boxer to defeat Roberto Durán as a pro.
De Jesús debuted as a professional in 1969, beating El Tarita by a knockout in round three in San Juan. He won his first 20 fights, 13 by knockout and then stepped in class for the first time, when he boxed future world title challenger Josue Marquez in 1971, beating him by a ten round decision. His next fight was against Victor Ortíz, a knockout win for de Jesús in four rounds. After that, there was a rematch with Marquez, who was beaten again, this time over 12 rounds.
Next came his first international fight, in Caracas against the future 4 time world title challenger Leonel Hernandez. De Jesús won that fight by a decision in round 10, in what was the start of a 4 fight tour of Venezuela. That Venezuelan campaign ended with a ten round decision loss against former world champion Antonio Gomez at Caracas.
1972 was pivotal for De Jesús' career. He won six fights in a row, including a 12 round knockout win in a third fight with Marquez, and a ten round decision over Doug McClendon. Despite all those wins, he was virtually an unknown boxer 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 with a ten round decision.
In 1973, he was rewarded for his efforts, receiving a chance to challenge Ray Lampkin for the regional, United States lightweight belt. he became the United States' champion by beating Lampkin by a 12 round decision. He beat Johnny Gant and Raul Montoya, by ten round decisions. After that there was a rematch in New York with Lampkin, whom he beat again, by a decision. He finished 1973 with a first round knockout win over fringe contender Al Ford.
He began 1974 by knocking out former world Jr. Welterweight champion Alfonso "Peppermint" Frazer in 10 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 by a knockout in eleven rounds. 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 by a 15 round decision. He beat Rudy Barros by a knockout in round five to end that year, and he started 1976, by beating Valentin Ramos by a 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 by a 15 round decision. He retained the title against Hector Medina by a knockout in round seven.
De Jesús, as a world champion, started dabbling in drugs, an element which would later threaten to ruin his life.
1978 began with the third and final chapter of his trilogy with Durán. In a title unification bout in Las Vegas, which displayed Durán's talents at the peaks of its powers, Durán systematically broke down De Jesús and resulted in a 12th 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 Jose 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.
|58 Wins (33 Knockouts, 25 Decision), 5 Losses, 0 Draws|
|Loss||58-5||Saoul Mamby||TKO||13 (15)||1980-07-07||Metropolitan Sports Center, Bloomington, Minnesota, USA||For WBC World Super Lightweight title.|
|Win||58-4||Jose Vallejo||KO||7 (10)||1980-05-10||Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||57-4||Ruby Ortiz||UD||10||1979-11-09||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA|
|Win||56-4||Jimmy Blevins||UD||10||1979-10-04||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA|
|Win||55-4||Edwin Viruet||SD||10||1978-10-27||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA|
|Win||54-4||Chuchu Hernandez||TKO||2 (8)||1978-07-08||Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||53-4||Pablo Baez||TKO||3 (8)||1978-06-03||Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Loss||52-4||Roberto Duran||TKO||12 (15)||1978-01-21||Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA||Lost WBC World Lightweight title.
For WBA World Lightweight title.
|Win||52-3||James Brackett||UD||10||1977-09-10||Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||51-3||Vicente Mijares||KO||11 (15)||1977-06-25||Loubriel Stadium, Bayamon, Puerto Rico||Retained WBC World Lightweight title.|
|Win||50-3||Buzzsaw Yamabe||TKO||6 (15)||1977-02-12||Loubriel Stadium, Bayamon, Puerto Rico||Retained WBC World Lightweight title.|
|Win||49-3||Hector Julio Medina||KO||7 (15)||1976-09-10||Loubriel Stadium, Bayamon, Puerto Rico||Retained WBC World Lightweight title.|
|Win||48-3||Guts Ishimatsu||UD||15||1976-05-08||Loubriel Stadium, Bayamon, Puerto Rico||Won WBC World Lightweight title.|
|Win||47-3||Valente Ramos||TKO||2 (10)||1976-03-06||Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||46-3||Rudy Barro||TKO||5 (10)||1975-10-11||Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Loss||45-3||Antonio Cervantes||UD||15||1975-05-17||Panama City, Panama||For WBA World Super Lightweight title.|
|Win||45-2||Jesse Lara||KO||3 (10)||1975-03-15||El Poliedro, Caracas, Venezuela|
|Win||44-2||Javier Ayala||UD||10||1974-09-02||Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||43-2||Gerardo Ferrat||TKO||5 (10)||1974-06-10||Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Loss||42-2||Roberto Duran||KO||11 (15)||1974-03-16||Panama City, Panama||For WBA World Lightweight title.|
|Win||42-1||Alfonso Frazer||KO||10 (10)||1974-01-07||Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||41-1||Al Foster||KO||1 (10)||1973-11-22||Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||40-1||Miguel Mayan||UD||10||1973-10-29||Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||39-1||Radames Checo||KO||1 (12)||1973-09-08||Panama City, Panama|
|Win||38-1||Ray Lampkin||UD||12||1973-07-14||Felt Forum, New York, New York, USA||Retained NABF Lightweight title.|
|Win||37-1||Raul Montoya||UD||10||1973-05-21||Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||36-1||Johnny Gant||UD||10||1973-04-16||Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||35-1||Ray Lampkin||UD||12||1973-02-16||Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico||Won vacant NABF Lightweight title.|
|Win||34-1||Roberto Duran||UD||10||1972-11-17||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA|
|Win||33-1||Doc McClendon||UD||10||1972-10-30||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||32-1||Raymundo Dias||UD||10||1972-09-18||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||31-1||Chuck Wilburn||UD||10||1972-07-28||Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA|
|Win||30-1||Angel Robinson Garcia||UD||10||1972-07-08||Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||29-1||Josue Marquez||TKO||12 (12)||1972-05-01||Felt Forum, New York, New York, USA||Retained Puerto Rican Lightweight title.|
|Win||28-1||George Foster||TKO||8 (10)||1972-04-10||Felt Forum, New York, New York, USA|
|Win||27-1||Percy Hayles||UD||10||1972-02-14||Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Loss||26-1||Antonio Gomez||UD||10||1971-12-10||Caracas, Venezuela|
|Win||26-0||Milton Mendez||KO||5 (10)||1971-10-30||Caracas, Venezuela|
|Win||25-0||Frank Leroy||KO||7 (10)||1971-10-20||Caracas, Venezuela|
|Win||24-0||Leonel Hernandez||UD||10||1971-10-06||Caracas, Venezuela|
|Win||23-0||Josue Marquez||UD||12||1971-09-04||San Juan, Puerto Rico||Retained Puerto Rican Lightweight title.|
|Win||22-0||Victor Ortiz||KO||4 (10)||1971-08-07||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||21-0||Josue Marquez||UD||12||1971-07-24||San Juan, Puerto Rico||Won Puerto Rican Lightweight title.|
|Win||20-0||Armando Mendoza||TKO||7 (10)||1971-06-05||Caracas, Venezuela|
|Win||19-0||Gustavo Briceno||UD||10||1971-05-05||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||18-0||Johnny Harp||UD||10||1971-04-12||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||17-0||Jose Llano||KO||7 (10)||1970-10-19||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||16-0||Johnny Sandoval||UD||10||1970-09-30||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||15-0||Tommy Shaffer||KO||8 (10)||1970-07-09||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||14-0||Coverly Kid Daniels||KO||6 (10)||1970-05-12||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||13-0||Jose Jimenez||UD||10||1970-04-30||Ponce, Puerto Rico|
|Win||12-0||Ike Estrada||KO||5 (10)||1970-04-06||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||11-0||Bobby Parnell||KO||1 (10)||1970-03-28||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||10-0||Braulio Rodriguez||TKO||8 (10)||1970-02-28||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||9-0||Chino Guerrero||TKO||3 (10)||1970-02-14||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||8-0||Martin Cuello||KO||2 (10)||1970-01-24||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||7-0||Ivelaw Eastman||KO||5 (8)||1969-11-22||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||6-0||Kid Matt Sheffield||TKO||2 (8)||1969-10-19||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||5-0||Ramon Montes||KO||3 (6)||1969-09-27||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||4-0||Johnny Sandoval||UD||6||1969-08-23||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||3-0||Francisco Maldonado||KO||3 (6)||1969-08-02||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||2-0||Braulio Rodriguez||KO||4 (6)||1969-07-21||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Win||1-0||El Tarita||KO||2 (6)||1969-02-10||San Juan, Puerto Rico||Professional Debut.|
|WBC Lightweight Champion
8 May 1976–21 Jan 1978
In the Thanksgiving weekend of 1981, in what became a famous case in Puerto Rico, De Jesús was convicted of murder after killing a 17-year-old, over a traffic dispute. He 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. After it became public knowledge that De Jesús had acquired HIV and had become a sufferer of AIDS, governor Rafael Hernández Colón pardoned him.
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 Duran. Duran 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 Duran'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 pardoned at the age of 37.
- List of famous Puerto Ricans
- List of lightweight boxing champions
- List of WBC world champions
- List of Puerto Rican boxing world champions
1. Hands of Stone - Christian Giudice