Remembering 3-Division Champ Alexis Arguello!

By Boxing News - 07/23/2023 - Comments

By Ken Hissner: Nicaragua’s Alexis “Thin Man” Arguello was a 3-division world champion inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992.

In Arguello’s first attempt at a world title in February of 1974 in Panama City, Panama, he lost to Panama’s WBA World Featherweight champion Ernesto Marcel, 39-4-2, over 15 rounds.

Marcel wanted nothing to do with a rematch outside of Panama and retired.

WBC and WBA knockout champion Ruben “El Puas” Olivares won the vacant title in July, knocking out Japan’s Zensuke Utagawa, 25-4-2, in 7 rounds. In his first defense, he was knocked out in 13 rounds down twice by Arguello while behind on two cards and even on another. Olivares was 78-4-1.

In Arguello’s third defense, he knocked out Japan’s Royal Kobayashi, 18-0, in 5 rounds in October of 1975. He defended his title in his fourth defense in his USA debut in June of 1976, knocking out Mexico’s Salvador “Negro” Torres, 18-2-1.

Arguello, in his next six fights, all non-title, knocked out Philly’s Jerome Artis, 16-1-4, in two rounds. After another non-title knockout, he moved up to take his second world title division, stopping WBC World Super Featherweight champion Puerto Rico’s Alfredo Escalera, 40-7-2, in 13 rounds in Puerto Rico.

In Escalera’s seventh defense in Philadelphia against Tyrone Everett, 34-0, I scored it 13-2 for Everett, who lost by split decision. It was the worst decision I have ever witnessed. The Mexican judge gave it to Everett, while the Puerto Rico and US judges gave it to Escalara. Lou Tress from the US never judged a fight again.

Four defenses later, Escalera was stopped by Arguello in January of 1979. In the rematch a year later, he was stopped again in thirteen rounds, this time in Mexico in the fifth defense by Arguello.

In Arguello’s next four defenses, he stopped two future champs after he vacated the title in Rafael “Bazooka” Limon, 43-8-2, Bobby “School Boy” Chacon, 42-4-1, then Ruben Castillo, 43-0, and Rolando Navarrete, 36-6-3.

Arguello won his third division title in London, UK, defeating Jim Watt, 38-7, in June of 1981. In his first defense in Atlantic City, New Jersey, he stopped Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, 20-0, in fourteen rounds in October of 1981.

I met him three months later as Arguello sat in a chair in a field jacket with his legs extended, saying, “I sat like this when Mancini busted through a pair of doors with his entourage, and I just looked at him!”

In Arguello’s next three defenses, he stopped Roberto Elizondo, 23-1, James “Bubba” Busceme, 27-3, and Andy “Hawaiian Punch” Ganigan, 34-3. Then back in Atlantic City, in a non-title fight, he knocked out Kevin Rooney, 19-1, in two rounds in July of 1982.

In November of 1982, Arguello then moved up to super lightweight, taking on WBA World champion Aaron “Hawk” Pryor, 31-0. Before the fight, at the press conference, he said something like, “I am honored to fight such a great champion as Aaron Pryor.”

After thirteen rounds, Pryor was ahead on two of the three cards. Pryor’s trainer Panama Lewis said to his assistant, “No, not that bottle, but the other one!” IBH of Fame matchmaker Don Elbaum was later known to have mixed the bottle but never admitted what was in it. Whatever it was, it gave Pryor a “big pick-up,” stopping Arguello in the fourteenth round.

It was almost five years prior to Arguelo’s next fight he had lost in a non-title fight to Vilomar Fernandez, now 27-9-2, defeating in the rematch. Two fights later, in a rematch with Pryor, he was knocked out in ten rounds.

Two fights later, in February of 1986, Arguello, 75-7, lost the first three rounds and stopped former WBC super Lightweight champ Billy Costello, 31-1, in four rounds and retired.

It would be eight and a half years when Arguello came back, winning a majority decision over Jorge Palomares, 8-12-1. In January of 1995, he lost to Scott Walker, 17-3-1, in his final bout, in January of 1985, finishing with a 77-8 with 62 knockouts record.

In 2008 Arguello was a flag-bearer for Nicaragua at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. In July 2009, it was announced he died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the chest.

At a boxing event, a member of the WBC told me Arguello went back to Nicaragua saying he wanted some of his trophies back to the Sandinistas, who may have killed him there. He was shot in the chest, so you decide what were the true facts.

YouTube video