Jesus Alberto Chong, the former WBO 108-pound champion nicknamed “El Tigre”, is one of countless fine Mexican fighters who have made their mark in the sport's lighter, often under-appreciated, divisions.
Born on January 7, 1965 in Gomez Palacio, a city in the northeastern part of Mexican state Durango, Chong is of Chinese-
Mexican heritage. In 1966 his mother gave birth to Jesus' baby brother Hector, and boxing would eventually become a very
large part of the Chong family´s lives.
Hector Chong made his professional debut at seventeen in 1983, and compiled a 5-2 record by the time Jesus followed him into the paid ranks in September of 1987. But while he had a head start on his older sibling, Hector's career never reached the same heights as that of Jesus.
Hector Chong went on to win the Chihuahua state featherweight title, defeat some good fighters and share the ring with some even better ones, such as former or future champions Alejandro Gonzalez, Jesse Benavides, Julio Gervacio and Juan Manuel Marquez. But after losing a unanimous decision to Gonzalez in 1993, Hector's career went downhill and he became a journeyman with
losses in sixteen of his last seventeen bouts. He retired in 1998 with a less than spectacular 27-22-3 record.
By the time Hector decided to hang up his gloves, Jesus had also seen better days in the ring. But before that, he accomplished much more than his brother. A big puncher, he won his first nine fights by knockout, before suffering his first defeat on points at the hands of tough fellow Mexican Justo Zuniga (20-13-1) in October 1989.
Four months later Jesus fought outside of Mexico for the first time, dropping a decision to future Hall-of-Famer Johnny Tapia
(14-0-1) in Las Vegas. There was no shame in that loss, as Tapia went on to win world titles in three weight classes, and
Chong would never shy away from fighting the best opponents possible.
Remaining in the USA, he finished 1990 strong, beating Oscar Calzada (8-0) and Martin Llovera (0-1) in Tucson, before
picking up the IBC light flyweight belt with a majority decision over Francisco Montiel (22-11-1) at the Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, Illinois. Looking to build on his momentum, Chong accepted to move up a division to fight Ysaias Zamudio (21-3) at flyweight a month later at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. He
showed his quality again, but came out on the short end of a razor thin decision.
For his next outing, on March 21, 1991, he was back at 108 pounds and back in Mexico. Despite the setback against Zamudio, Chong was now a main event fighter, winning a fifth-round stoppage against Jorge Luis Roman (13-2-1).
Chong followed up with a unanimous decision over highly ranked Cuauhtemoc Gomez (21-0) and a knockout in four over
Argentina's Daniel Humberto Lagos (11-1), firmly establishing himself as a top world contender. However, on the hunt
for a world title fight, he had to settle for the next best thing... fighting the best.
IBF 108-pound champion Michael Carbajal (21-0) was looking for an opponent for a non title fight on the October 18, 1991 undercard for the Tommy Morrison vs. Ray Mercer WBO heavyweight title fight promoted by Top Rank at the Convention Center in Atlantic City.
With a nice-looking 15-3 record, Jesus Chong fit the bill, and he happily accepted what was his biggest pay day to date, along
with an excellent opportunity to get valuable exposure on American television. He was not expected to beat Carbajal, but even
a good performance could do wonders for his future.
And that is exactly how it played out. Carbajal was the better man that night, but Chong again proved that he could hang with
the best. He gave the champion some problems, landed some good punches, but in the end the man from Phoenix won by scores of 97-93 and 97-92 (twice).
Between February of 1992 and May of 1995, Chong went 12-2, showing massive punching power that made him a force to be reckoned, stopping Francisco Montiel in eleven rounds of a rematch, and getting rid of Danny Nunez (22-1) in seven.
He won the Mexican light flyweight title in March 1993 against Raul Rios (26-5-2), and made six successful defense of that title, against very competent opposition, before getting disqualified against Edgar Cardenas (10-4-1), a man he had beaten seven months earlier.
While he was declared the loser of that fight, there was no doubt that Chong was still genuine world class and better than Cardenas. He had always been ready to take on all comers, so it was no surprise that he accepted to challenge reigning WBF light flyweight champion Sairung Suwanasil (6-1) on July 16, 1995 in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Also known as Sairung Singwancha, the local man was the favorite, but Chong was certainly his best opponent to date. With
thousands of enthusiastic fans singing and rooting for their hero, the Mexican visitor had everything against him. Despite only seven recorded professional bouts (he may have had more which was not registered by international record keepers), Suwanasil had made three defenses of his title against tough challengers, and knocked out six straight opponents.
The spectators demanded that he also demolish Chong, but it was not to be. After a strong start by Suwanasil, Chong started to take over and use all the experience he had gained fighting the likes of Tapia and Carbajal. By the middle rounds it was his fight, and in round nine he stopped Suwanasil and silenced the crowd. The new WBF light flyweight champion instantly became a star in Thailand, having beaten their poster boy. So the financial rewards were high when he was invited back only three months later to defend against another Thai hope in Somsak Plapol, AKA Jakkrit LG-Gym (4-0).
In Nong Khai, located on the banks of the Mekong River, Chong was, unfortunately for him, making his first title defense
against a very special talent. Plapol boxed wonderfully that afternoon, and deservedly won a unanimous decision and the
hearts of his countrymen.
But Chong was not done achieving big things. On April 16, 1996 he caused a major upset as he knocked out two-time world amateur champion and US Olympian Eric Griffin (16-2) in seven rounds in Saint Louis. A year later, with the vacant WBO title having been relinquished by South African legend “Baby” Jake Matlala, Chong
again stopped Griffin in the second round of a rematch, and he was now the WBO world champion. But it would not last very long.
The following August, three months after beating Griffin the second time, Chong was convincingly outpointed by former WBC titlist, Melchor Cob Castro (50-5-4) of Mexico. That loss would turn out to be the beginning of the end for Chong.
Always a warrior and willing to face anyone, he continued to fight at the world level, and returned to Thailand in March 2000 to challenge for his old WBF title. But, despite a valiant effort, he lost a decision to Linglom Por Tawatchai (7-1).
In November of 2002 Chong experienced what every boxer fears, as opponent Jaime Parga (reportedly 20-5 entering the
bout) died from brain injuries sustained from being knocked out in the ninth round by Chong. After that tragedy, Ching fought just once more, losing a ten rounder by unanimous decision to journeyman Rafael Chavez (12-15-1).
Chong retired at age 38 with a 32-16 record.