The pace the champion set in the second round was brutal. Before it was over he had thrown 173 punches, most of them with Chacon backed against the ropes. "It was damn near a 10-8 round," judge Duane Ford would say later.
Chacon earned all of his $575,000 and then some in the third round. He tried to keep the fight in ring center, but Mancini was too strong for him. Soon Chacon once again found himself with his back to the ropes, and there he stayed until Steele stepped in to save him.
"I thought the referee did an excellent job," Mancini said, perhaps remembering his bout with Duk Koo Kim of South Korea, who died four days after Mancini knocked him out in November 1982. "Bobby's eye was bleeding bad. It was really chopped up. If you could've seen it from as close as I did, you'd know it was bad. But Bobby is tough. I threw some shots that would have dropped just about anybody, but he stayed up. So I just put my head on his chest and kept banging."
This was Mancini's third fight since September, his fourth in less than 12 months. Since Aug. 17 of last year, he'd spent 17 out of 21 weeks in training camp. "I need a rest," Mancini said.
Dave Wolf, his manager, smiled at him. "But not a long one," Wolf said. "After the fight, Grif [trainer Murphy Griffith] told me this just confirmed his belief that the more active Ray is, the better he is. So we aren't going to wait too long before going back to camp."
Mancini's options are unlimited, including a step-up in weight to take on Bruce Curry, the WBC junior welterweight champion. "I could go up and feel comfortable at 136 or 137 pounds and still be just as strong," Mancini said. "I just heard the talk about Curry, and it was something of a surprise, but I find it interesting."
Perhaps his biggest potential payday would be against Aaron Pryor, the retired WBA junior welterweight champion. And the two junior lightweight champions, Hector Camacho (WBC) and Roger Mayweather (WBA), have expressed an interest in moving up to light Mancini.
And then, of course, there's Howard Davis, the No. 2 lightweight contender, who was scheduled to fight Tyrone Crawley last Sunday but had to pull out after coming down with the flu. Had Davis fought and won, the WBA would have moved him up from No. 2 contender into the mandatory challenger role.
" Ray Mancini never ducked anybody in his life," the champion snapped when asked about prospective challengers. "Let's get somebody in here to put his name on a piece of paper. Just put us in a ring somewhere and we'll see what happens. All this talk just makes you tired. Right, Bobby?"
Chacon grinned at him. "Yeah. But, Ray, we were supposed to be friends. How come you beat me up?"