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For one night, at least, Julio Cesar Chavez was able to put his problems behind him and make a triumphant return to the ring.

Fighting before thousands of adoring fans, Chavez made up for a slow start before overwhelming and stopping an outmatched Joey Gamache (45-3) at the end of the eighth round of their scheduled 10-round fight.

"I'm on my way back," Chavez said.

Chavez showed glimpses of the form that made him a champion in four weight classes in winning for the 98th time in 101 fights in his first bout since losing his super lightweight title June 7 to Oscar De La Hoya.

Chavez was basically fighting for free after agreeing to give his $1.5 million purse to the Mexican government to help settle tax charges that led Mexican authorities to issue a warrant for his arrest last month. The tax charges, a divorce action by his wife, and the devastating loss to De La Hoya had combined to force Chavez into virtual exile during the most troubled time of his 16-year pro career.

In another fight on the card, Michael Carbajal successfully defended his IBF light flyweight title by stopping Tomas Rivera in the fifth round of their scheduled 12-round fight.

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