The Spanish word “maromero” is derived from “maroma” (somersaults), and would translate to “acrobat,” “the one who somersaults,” “one who flips his body,” or even “trickster.” Jorge Adolfo Febles Paez, a native of Mexicali in Baja California, Mexico grew up in a family of roaming and struggling entertainers of a circus owned by his grandmother. More than the boxing ring, Paez loved clown and acrobat roles in the circus. In 1989, “El Maromero” Paez is quoted as saying, regarding the more than $100,000 he would receive for defending his International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight title against Lupe Gutierezz in Reno, Nevada:
“I only want to get money, not titles…I came from a down status. Now, I am at the top. It was hard getting there” (“Paez Faces Gutierezz” in “Schenectady Gazette,” December 9, 1989).
Undoubtedly one of Jorge Paez’s motivations to earn money was the upgrading and marketing of the family circus.
The rise to fame of Maromero Paez was unique, spectacular, and significantly historical. Before Paez’s first fight in the United States of America, he was virtually unknown beyond the boxing circles of Mexico where he had earned the nickname “Maromero.” In Mexico Paez had mostly fought in Mexicali (which is the state capital, and a portmanteau for “Mexico” and “California”) and Tijuana in the state Baja California. He occasionally fought in places like Mexico City and San Luis Colorado. But though largely untested by international competition prior to his ventures into the United States, Paez had amassed an excellent boxing record of 25 wins (19 by knockout), two losses, one draw. Paez amassed the two losses very early in his career.
On January 23rd in Gamaches in Somme, France, 25 year-old African-American Calvin Grove dethroned Puerto Rican Antonio Rivera whose last fight had been on August 30th 1986 when he dethroned Ki-Young Chung of Korea of the IBF flyweight title. Undefeated in 32 previous fights in a professional boxing career that started in 1982, Grove knocked out Rivera in the fourth round of a scheduled 15 rounds. Tall and slender Calvin Grove, one of the best American boxers, was renowned for his speed and skills and ability to evade blows; he earned the nickname, “Silky Smooth.” On April 17th 1988, Grove would successfully defend his new title, against American Myron Taylor. The next battle would be with Paez, on August 4th 1988. Grove was expected to win, but Paez had the higher knockout ratio. Paez was going to fight in his familiar hometown with the crowd cheering for the clown. Humidity in Mexicali is generally low, but the July-August weather temperatures often rise to a dehydrating triple-digits Fahrenheit! The temperature high of Mexicali on that August 4th 1988 was 105 degrees Fahrenheit, while the low was 86 degrees!
Calvin Grove Vs. Jorge Adolfo Paez: The First Bout
A high capacity crowd at the Plaza de Toros Calafia was eagerly anticipated the IBF featherweight championship bout. The ring set up in a bullfighting arena was unusually wide in area, and this would be a factor in the fight. It would likely give Grove the space advantage given that he was a hit-and-run fighter. Paez was more of the ambush and close-range boxer who preferred to cut down on the space or corner his opponents and batter them. Unfortunately, there are no rigid legal limits on the dimensions of a boxing ring.
Of historical significance, the Paez-Grove encounter would officially be the last USA televised and major international 15-round professional title bout. Protests over the dangers of boxing had undoubtedly played a part in gradually limiting professional boxing bouts to twelve rounds.
A young-looking Paez, well known for his unique flashy and exotic ring outfits and hairstyles (beside his clowning in the ring) was this time wearing flashy blue shorts and had a neat full crop of hair with bangles tied to the hair ends running down the neck. As usual, Paez was there not to steal the show but to be the show! In comparison, Grove looked none the worse for wear in his white and lines black shorts. He had a significant thick crown-crop of hair on top of his head with the lower circumference of the head heavily trimmed down. Paez at 22 years of age (born on October 27th, 1965 in the small cozy city Colima which is the capital of the Colima state of Mexico) and a relatively short 5’5″ (165 cm) was officially weighted 125.75 pounds, while Grove who would turn 26 the next day (August 5th 1988) stood tall at 5’8″ and light at 125.5 pounds. The differences arms lengths were also significant. Paez at 68-69 inches and Grove at 71 inches–nearly a full-foot of difference. Grove was born in the small steel town Coatesville in Pennsylvania.
In the first round, Grove exhibits a lot of the Muhammad Ali style. He is hitting and running, circling the ring. Paez looks stronger, much more buffed and muscular than Grove. No doubt, Grove is very much aware of the strength and rocking power of Paez. Paez is the offensive one, Grove is the defensive one. As Paez walks and jogs to Grove to deliver, Grove keeps jabbing and running, but the jabs are not hurting Paez. But the few of Paez’s blows that hit Grove are significantly powerful, and one noticeably causes Grove to stumble. This reminds Grove that he will have to continue to be evasive to avoid a Paez onslaught. The fighters have been feeling or assessing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The judges likely awarded each of the two pugilists the same numbers of points for this round.
The second round begins and further signifies that Paez is the one with the devastating power punches that Grove fully realized in the first round. Grove maintains a safe distance from Paez, sometimes running away from a chasing Paez who is intending to put out Paez with a devastating right-left hook.
In rounds three and four, Grove continues his hit-and-retreat stance that frustrates Paez who does not seem to be accustomed to Grove’s boxing style. Somewhere in there, Paez delivers a hard left hook that hurts Grove. But this fight is likely becoming a difficult one to score. Should the judges reward for Grove’s combinations which are not laced with much power and involve what looks like cowardly retreating and avoiding a toe-to-toe brawl with Paez; or should they award Paez for his keenness but frustration in hitting Grove? Paez’s blows are hard and significant, the few times they land. Paez may have to count on Grove losing steam as the fight progresses. And the weather temperatures are significantly high, and Grove with his thin body and continuous running may be bound to lose more energy and body fluids as the fight progresses.
In the fifth round, Paez confidently starts his clowning. This is to please and rail the crowd, displaying what he is famous for. It may also be a way for him to relax given the evasiveness of Grove that has frustrated and psychologically worn him out. Paez is taking a break to allow him to forge a strategy to get at Grove. The only two professional bouts that Paez previously lost happened very early in his career. Paez had never been knocked out and had gone the full distance in a handful of 10-rounders. This is his first international championship, the first beyond 10 rounds. Grove has gone the full distance in a significant number of bouts of 10 rounds and beyond. Grove certainly has the stamina–in his last fight, about a year ago, he defeated Myron Taylor by unanimous decision in a 15-round defense of his new IBF featherweight title.
The sixth round starts, and Paez briefly hits Grove. This is Paez’s best round, the audience is excited. Paez lands more head-hunting punches, clownishly taunts Grove,. even faking getting disoriented after Grove’s delivering the blows that do not hurt him.
In the seventh round, for the first time, the two boxers are closer in body distance; perhaps a sign that both are tired. But as indicated, the close contact style would likely favor the harder-hitting and offensive Paez. This round is even more exciting than the fifth-sixth rounds, but Paez lands the harder and sharper blows. Both boxers are getting exhausted, and Grove the more worn out, the two seem to be going for the kill as Grove becomes more audacious.
Paez appears to be relaxing in the eighth round, while still looking for the opportunity to land that killer punch. Grove continues to land the flash punches, hoping that the accumulation will give him the points. Paez is also visibly landing blows to Grove’s body as he ducks.
In the ninth round Paez picks up the pace and the crowd roars as he occasionally delivers. At some point he taunts Grove to move towards him and fight.
In the tenth round, both boxers display fatigue and each taunts the other. There is significantly visible damage to Grove in the form of a growing swelling on the side of his left eye. Paez gaining confidence, at some point stands straight alongside the ropes with dropped hands as he taunts Grove’s seemingly soft punches that he allows Grove to deliver. Paez is urging Grove to step close to him and really fight. Paez seems to be trying to encourage Grove to step closer, attempting to bait and thereafter rock him.
In the eleventh round Paez more intensively chases Grove who remains elusive as he circles and avoids the blows. Grove starts to occasionally hold as the strong Paez lounges forward. For the first time, Paez has surpassed 10 rounds. Grove had previously done it eighteen times. A great round for Paez who has landed heavy lounging blows on a retreating and apparently tired and injured Grove. A strength of Paez is his ability to easily change from the orthodox to the southpaw stance; a bit of ambidexterity with a lot of power in both fists.
In the twelfth round Paez continues to go after the hurt the retreating tired Calvin Grove who is hanging on. Paez becomes overly confident. Grove surprisingly lands and hurts Paez in the last few seconds of the round. But the bell rings and it is too late for Grove to follow up.
The thirteenth round witnesses Paez getting deadlier. The “Maromero” is fighting as though he is as fresh as at the beginning of the bout. He is encouraged by the swelling next to Grove’s left eye which is getting worse. The two boxers seem to be adrenaline-charged! This round involves more toe-to-toe exchanges, but Paez is also dancing and gaining the upper hand. Grove is running, but he has become more daring in reciprocating Paez’s flurry.
The fourteenth round involves Paez continuing to chase and land on Grove the harder blows. Paez does some clowning, a sign of growing confidence; but he intends to put out Grove.
The final round fifteen is evidently the “do-or-die” round. Grove is hurt and worn out, but the retreating blows he landed that were more significant in the first half of the bout might have him in the lead on the judges’ scorecards. On the other hand, the judges could have awarded more points to Paez because of his aggressiveness and hard punches against a seemingly cowardly retreating Grove. In the first seconds of the fifteenth round, Paez is knocked down but it is ruled a push. Paez quickly gets up. But a heavily dehydrated and worn out Grove seems to drop his guard. He retreats to a neutral corner, perhaps to get the support of the ropes. This is Paez’s best moment given that Grove is substantially trapped, for the first time! Paez unleashes a left that hurts Grove. This gives Paez the chance to deliver a dangerous combination that knocks Grove to the ground. Grove, in agony, gets up, is given an 8-count. Paez aggressively goes forward and hammers Grove in the same previous corner. Grove falls, again. After the 8-count, Paez uncharacteristically hits Grove in the abdomen and Grove falls although the blow looked like a slap. Grove gets up, his body language implying protest that it was a low blow or maybe water on the floor that made him slip. As the fight has been progressing, Grove has been holding on for dear life, often holding and even twisting around Paez so as to recuperate and kill time. Grove is in agony but the bell saves him from being completely knocked out. There was not a three-knock-down rule in this IBF. The crowd was in a frenzy throughout the fifteenth round.
When the bell rings to signal the end of a lengthy and hard-fought bout, Paez smiles and is lifted up by his team to imply that he has won. Many contend that some of the referees may have given a 10-6 points in favor of Paez in the fifteenth round because of the three knockdowns. after the smiling and confidently waving to the animated crowd, Paez climbs up the corner ropes to wave to the crowd and flex his raised arms like he is the victor. Then he climbs down and collapsedly falls to the floor. He is exhausted but elated! Paez’s Mexican entourage that is mostly dressed in white has already swarmed and packed the ring like it were an extended congratulating family. Paez again climbs the ropes. The congratulatory patting from the entourage is seemingly ceaseless! The two boxers Paez and Grove briefly hug and utter some friendly words to each other as they eagerly await the decision. The result, it is a majority decision in favor of an excited and emotional Maromero Paez! The IBF featherweight championship belt is locked around his waist and he is hoisted up, his arms flexing in the air in victory! Paez emotionally weeps, and in the opposite corner is a disappointed Grove with eyes covered by his right hand, with head hanging low. Jorge Paez Jr., just 8 months of age, is brought into the ring for his father to hold and display.
Calvin Grove Vs. Jorge Adolfo Paez: The Second Bout
Since the previous bout, Paez had fought an average Mexican boxer Miguel Molina whom he had previously, on July 28th 1986, beaten by points in a 6-round bout in Tijuana. On September 30th 1988, nearly two months after Paez had won the IBF featherweight title, Paez knocked out Molina in Ciudad Juarez. The rematch with Grove would be Paez’s next professional boxing bout.
Inevitably, the audience longed for a Paez-Grove rematch. The rematch would happen on March 30th 1989. The bout took place at the same ring in Mexicali that the previous IBF featherweight championship had taken place. But this time the weather temperatures were considerably lower and much better tolerable than during the previous bout which was contested in August of the previous year. On this March 30th, the maximum temperature was 91 degrees Fahrenheit, the lowest was 60 degrees, and the average was 76 degrees. Contrast that with the foregone August bout whereby the maximum was 104, the minimum was 77, and the average was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, Paez had the home-crowd and weather-familiarity advantage.
On March 30th 1989, the ring officials and boxers Grove and Paez stood to the attention of the playing of the USA and Mexico anthems. The rematch for the!BF featherweight championship was going to take place. The ring was exactly the same that the two boxers had battled for the championship, previously. The ring area was again conspicuously wide in area, and comfortably held many boxing officials. A Mexican celebrity sang the Mexican anthem while Paez and many others in the ring and among the audience sang along. Paez was more flashily and glamorously dressed than in their previous bout. Here he wore multi-colored trunks, green gloves and boots, and unevenly matched socks and other accessories that truly made him look like the circus clown. The complex hair style enhanced the circus clown image. Grove wore purple trunks and his rows of braided hair seemed to suggest that he had attempted to match Paez’s flashy attire.
The first round begins and Paez is certainly animated and more confident than during the beginning of the last bout. Paez starts by clownishly and tauntingly gyrating his hips as he looks at Grove in the corner across, then at the bell signal he quickly rushes at his opponent. Paez is much more aggressive early in the bout than in their previous fight and seems to want to clobber Grove and end the bout early. He seems to be confident that he now knows Grove well enough and can go for the early kill. Paez manages to land many single left-right punches to Grove’s head and body as a cautious Grove mostly wards off Paez with his long arms. Still, Grove is facing Paez more than evading him like he had done in their previous fight. Paez is certainly dominant in this round.
In the second round, Grove becomes more offensive and lands more jabs than during the first round. Paez is relaxed, less animated than in the first round, but he still lands heavy blows and wants to deliver a lounging head kill. Paez taunts Grove, using clowning hip gestures. Near the end of the round, Paez unleashes a series of combinations that seem to hurt Grove. But this round favors Grove, although there was not much action in the round.
At the beginning of the third round, Paez is cornered but is not getting hurt by Grove. He slips out of the corner and the two boxers go toe-to-toe around the ring. Unlike the first bout whereby Grove mostly hit-and-run, this time Grove is bravely standing to Paez and not running. Grove is trading punches with the stronger Paez. The latter, sometimes ducks or lowers his head before landing the 1-2 combination. Near the end of the round, Grove corners Paez and unleashes a significant combination of punches. But Paez slips away and even begins to punch Grove who slightly wobbles. The bell rings.
In the fourth round Paez works hard to strike Grove while ducking and attempting to box through Grove’s guarding long arms. Grove is cautious and retreating, and not boxing much. At some point he even holds Paez. But Paez gets the better of the two. Grove throws a punishing right to the head of Paez, but this apparently angers and excites Paez into smothering Grove the more. This is a great round for Paez whereby Grove is getting hurt.
Just before the beginning of the fifth round, a confident Paez in his corner dancingly shakes his chest. The bell rings and Paez straight away runs after Grove. The two exchange thundering jabs. Grove is hurt and he holds Paez so as to avert the onslaught. The referee separates them. Grove recovers and reciprocates Paez’s jabs. Paez corners Grove and attempts to block his eyes with the left hand and then deliver a killer combination, but fails to knock him down. This is a great round for Paez who is progressively gaining confidence and landing more blows.
In the sixth round Paez relaxes and tauntingly clowns, even when Grove backs him into a corner, indicating that Grove is not hurting him. The two continue to exchange hard punches, but this time Paez’s clowning has allowed Grove to deliver and land more punches. Grove lands on Paez a significantly punishing upper cut.
Paez is back to business in the seventh round. He attacks Grove, but Grove does not back away although at times he holds. Paez continues to taunt Grove by gyrating his hips as he beckons him to come forward and fight. Grove’s blows have weakened but he unleashes a dangerous combination that hurts and spurs on Paez to return the favor. Still, Grove is the better deliverer in this round, proving that he trained hard for this championship bout. Grove is much less of the retreating fighter seen in the first fight with Paez. Allowing himself to be cornered is partly a tactic by Paez to get Grove closer so he can more easily rock Grove.
In the eighth round, Grove who has gained confidence backs Paez into a corner and delivers the blows. Paez instinctively counter-attacks and exacts on Grove hard blows that weaken Grove. The latter retreats more, he seems to be getting tired. Grove occasionally holds, but Paez keeps going after him. He even wriggles his hips, deriding Grove. Paez has bagged this round.
In the ninth round a fresh-looking Paez, compared to a worn-out Grove, runs after his foe. Paez seems to be inching toward delivering the killing blows. Grove, using his long arms, wards off and sometimes holds Paez to slow down the onslaught. Grove bravely hangs in there and sometimes delivers punches. Paez’s hard punches are hitting the target, but Grove continues to stand. Grove’s legs become rubbery and near the end of the round Paez delivers a thundering blow to Grove’s head. Grove stumbles. Grove protestingly gestures. The referee immediately warns Paez for hitting Grove after the bell had rang. The boxers’ corner teams quickly jump into the ring to avert the tension. Certainly a great and exciting round that heavily favors Paez!
Apparently, this fight is much more defined than the first Grove-Paez bout! In this one, Calvin Grove is much less cowardly. But with the progression into the later rounds, Grove is getting tired and weak, he is sometimes surviving on rubbery legs, he is retreating and holding more, and he is throwing fewer punches.
It is now the tenth round and a weary Grove starts by holding Paez. The latter starts running after and hitting a retreating Grove. The latter attempts to slow down Paez by holding again and again. Grove stumbles, but holds on. But he is too weak and a punch from Paez floors him! The fight resumes after the standing-8 count. Grove is floored again, but gets up–it was ruled a slip. Then a right to the head fells Grove for the third time. An excited but exhausted Paez runs to a neutral corner to rest on the ropes. The bell sounds for the end of the round, saving Grove from further punishment. Grove stumbles to his corner. Surprisingly the Grove corner does not throw in the surrendering towel!
The eleventh comes around, and a courageous but retreating Grove holds on with weak legs. He is relying on adrenaline! Paez, exhausted from all the hard work, has the upper hand. Paez pounds Grove with a left jab that sends him slumping down! Before the referee starts counting, “Maromero” climbs up the corner ropes and raises his arms to the audience in assuring victory. The referee requests Paez to climb down. Grove is finished! He is counted out by the referee. But he still gets up, and medical personnel jumps to him. Simultaneously, Paez flips his body, but before he can flip again, a swarm of the congratulatory Mexican entourage rushes in. Paez climbs onto the corner ropes and gyrates his hips to the frenzied crowd, victoriously raising his arms. He pounds his chest, displaying convincingly victory–as compared to the previous championship fight with Grove whereby he had won by a split decision.
In the “Doghouse Boxing” interview article “Calvin Grove: Mr. Silky Smooth” (March 14, 2008) conducted by Ken Hissner, Grove laments about the second bout with Paez: “We were supposed to fight in L.A. [Los Angeles] when it got changed to Mexico again. He [Paez] was awkward as it is. I lost fair and square. I was exhausted by the 11th round.”
“Maromero” Paez, who became nicknamed the “Clown Price of Boxing” in the USA where he would mostly fight, after the battles with Grove, would remain professionally active until the end of the year 2003. Paez would successfully defend his IBF featherweight title against commendable boxers including Steve Cruz and Troy Dorsey. Paez lost his IBF featherweight title to legendary Tony Lopez on September 22nd 1990. Later, as a lightweight, Paez failed to wrest the title from undisputed champion and legend Pernell Whitaker.
Paez fought in numerous bouts every year–some in Mexico. He won most of them. He challenged legendary Rafael Ruelas for the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) lightweight title. Paez retired in the tenth round. In 1993, Paez contested for the IBF lightweight title. He lost by unanimous decision to Freddie Pendleton. In July 1994, Paez was knocked out by Olympic gold medallist Oscar De La Hoya for the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) lightweight title. Paez lost in all three of his next fights, the worst of his losing streaks. That included being disqualified for hitting Jose Vida Ramos when he was down on the floor. The next bout was their rematch, a contest for the newly created and little regarded WBO North American Boxing Organization (NABO) super featherweight title. Paez lost by points.
Paez won in his next four fights. In August 1996 he knocked out Narciso Valenzuela, to claim the unheralded WBC Continental Americas super featherweight title. Again in Las Vegas, Paez lost the same title by points to Julian Wheeler in October two months later. In the January 1997 rematch, Paez regained the title by outpointing Wheeler in Los Angeles. As a clown prince, Paez befittingly fought many of his bouts in the entertainment-oriented states of California and Nevada. In April 1997 in Las Vegas, Paez retained the WBC Continental Americas super featherweight crown, knocking out Gerald Gray in the third round. In August of the same year, Paez was stopped by fifth round TKO by Angel Manfredy, failing in his quest again for the World Boxing Union (WBU) super featherweight title.
In August 1998, Paez won the North American Boxing Union (NABU) featherweight title in knocking out Juan Macias in the sixth round in Las Vegas. In August, Paez won the IBA Americas super featherweight crown, knocking out Juan Perez in El Paso in Texas. A year later, Paez was knocked out in the fifth round by Jose Castillo who then captured the vacant IBA super featherweight crown. This happened in Mexicali at the same Plaza Calafia that Paez had won his first world title in 1988.
Although against mostly mediocre boxers, Paez did not lose in any of his next fourteen that were scheduled 10-round non-title bouts. He won all except for the draw with Justo Sanchez. These fourteen, spanning from April 2000 to December 2003 would be his last. The ultimate showy boxing entertainer and traveler would travel to places like Mississippi, Idaho, Texas, Phoenix, and Utah to fight. At age 38, Paez retired with an excellent record of 79 wins (51 knockouts), 14 losses, and 5 draws.
Though Jorge Paez preferred that his sons not get into the dangerous sport of boxing, and instead concentrate on formal education, his son Jorge “Maromerito” Paez Jr. is a boxing world title prospect. He is the WBC Youth International welterweight champion. A younger brother, Azriel Paez, also started boxing professionally. The record of “Maromerito” Paez is now 29 wins (18 knockouts), and 4 losses.
Jorge Paez is also credited with being a Hollywood and Mexico entertainer and actor. In 1995 he appeared in the movie “Dirty Money” whereby he was “Jorge.” This is a robbery and murder mystery that includes the pursuance of a looter to a circus in Mexico.
Earlier in 1993, Paez was “Ernesto” in the movie “Old Shoes” in the Spanish language, filmed in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. In “La Ultima Esperanza,” a drama and romance TV series that ran from 1993-1995, Paez was “Kid.”
In 2006, Paez participated in the continuing “Bailando Por La Boda De Tus Sueños” in Mexico. This “Dancing for a Dream” involves many Mexican celebrities and can be compared to “Dancing with the Stars.”
Paez also acted on the NBC Saturday Sports Showcase series in 1990. In 2004, Paez was in “No Way Out” which was a professional wrestling pay-per-view event series. Paez also participated in the related “Smackdown” in the same year.
The flamboyance of boxing Mexican legend Jorge”El Maromero'” Paez was thoroughly entertaining, and involved outrageous hairstyles, dancing, taunting opponents, a new and unique costume each boxing bout, acrobatism and clowning, flipping his body. Nevertheless, Paez was a very muscular and determined hard-working powerful boxer with the drive to win. He read his opponents well even if they were considerably taller than him, zeroed in on their weaknesses, and often put them out. He had an outstanding boxing record in Mexico, the title wins in Mexicali were his first attempts at any major boxing title. Paez challenged many of the boxing legends. Paez became an international sensation in demand. The need to maintain and uplift the struggling family circus spurred him on to be a wonderful circus entertainer. His boxing skills allowed him to earn money from the sport, big dollars that would uplift the family and their business. His love was the circus, and he always brought it with him to the boxing ring. The audiences noticed and grew in capacity; the kids loved Paez’s clowning and flashiness. Paez traversed the United States, but principally entertainment-oriented Nevada and California. “El Maromero” became a celebrity. His showiness was quickly noticed and embraced by the film/ entertainment industry. But Paez has never forgotten, and he still performs and stars in his Mexico homeland nation. Paez’s genius lay in his being, uniquely and simultaneously, the star clown, the great boxer and the entertainer. Paez has become one of those unforgettables. Calvin Grove, would never regain significant international status although he would go on to contest for three more world titles–against legends Azumah Nelson, Miguel Angel Gonzalez, and Angel Manfredy.
Boswell, Thomas. “Paez Faces Gutierezz” in “Schenectady Gazette” (December 9, 1989).
Hissner, Ken. “Calvin Grove: Mr. Silky Smooth” in “Doghouse Boxing” (March 14, 2008).