Who Is the Best Spanish Speaking Boxer of All Time?

By Ken Hissner - 12/18/2023 - Comments

There have been quite a few great Spanish-speaking boxers, and I’m looking for our readers’ opinions.

There have been some great champions off the top of my head, such as Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran of Panama.

Duran was a four-division world champion. His final record was 103-16 with 70 stoppages. I met him at “Smokin” Joe Frazier’s Gym in North Philadelphia when in September of 1977 when, as lightweight champion, he was defending against Edwin Viruet, 23-2-2, in Philadelphia. He didn’t speak English, but I had never seen anyone skip rope better than he did.

In June of 1972, he won the lightweight title stopping Scotland’s Ken Buchanan, 43-1. He was 31-0 when he lost in a non-title fight to Estaban DeJesus, 32-1, of Puerto Rico, who ended his career at 57-5 with 32 stoppages. In Duran’s final fight, he lost to Puerto Rico’s Hector “Macho” Camacho, 73-4-2.

Camacho won world titles at Super Featherweight, Lightweight, and Light Welterweight. In August of 1983, Camacho won the Super Featherweight title, stopping Mexico’s Rafael “Bazooka” Limon, 50-12-2, for the vacant WBC title. In August of 1985, he won the lightweight title, defeating Mexico’s Jose “Zurdo” Luis Ramirez, 90-5, in Las Vegas.

Three of Camacho’s losses were to Mexico’s Super Lightweight champion Julio “J.C.” Cesar Chavez, 81-0, Puerto Rico’s World Welterweight champion Felix “Tito” Trinidad, 22-0, and USA’s Oscar “Golden Boy” De La Hoya, 25-0. He ended his career with a 79-6-3 record with 38 stoppages.

Chavez won titles at Super Featherweight, Lightweight, and Super Lightweight. He defeated Mexico’s Mario Martinez, 33-1-2, for the Super Featherweight title. He stopped Puerto Rico’s Edwin Rosario, 31-2, for the Lightweight title. He stopped Puerto Rico’s Sammy Fuentes, 21-6-1, for the Super Lightweight title.

Chavez was 89-0-1 when he lost the Super Lightweight title to Frankie “The Surgeon” Randall, 48-2-1, and then defeated him in the rematch. He would go on to lose to De La Hoya twice and end his career at 107-6-2, with 85 stoppages.

De La Hoya won the Olympic Gold medal in 1992 and go on to win titles in six divisions. Some of the Spanish-speaking boxers besides Chavez he defeated were Mexico’s Jorge Paez, 53-68-4, in a lightweight title win.

Then he defeated Puerto Rico’s John John Molina, 36-3, in a title defense. Then stopped Mexican-born Rafael Ruelas, 43-1. Then other Spanish-speaking boxers like Genaro Hernandez, 32-0-1; Jesse James Leija, 30-1-2; Chavez at 96-1-1; Mexico’s Miguel Angel Gonzalez, 41-0., Camacho at 63-3-1, Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo Rivera, 27-2-1.

At 31-0, he lost to Trinidad, 35-0, by majority decision. He won the Super Welterweight title, defeating Spain’s Javier Castillejo 51-4. In his next fight stopped Fernando Vargas, 22-1.

Next stopped Mexico’s Luis “Yuri Boy” Campas, 80-5. He stopped Nicaragua’s Ricardo Mayorga, 27-5-1, for the Super Welterweight title. He ended at 39-6 with 30 stoppages.

I met three-time world division champion Alexis Arguello of Nicaragua in Atlantic City when he was preparing for Mancini. He won the featherweight title, stopping Mexico’s Ruben Olivares, and ended with an 89-13-3 record with 79 stoppages.

As Super Featherweight champion, Arguello stopped Puerto Rico’s Alfredo Escalera, 42-9-2. In his following three fights he stopped Rafael Limon, 43-8-2, Bobby Chacon, 42-4-1, and Ruben Castillo, 43-0. He went on to defeat Jose Luis Ramirez, 67-2. He ended his career at 77-8 with 62 stoppages.

Argentina’s world middleweight champion Carlos Monzon won the title, stopping Italy’s Nino Benvenutti, 82-4-1, in November of 1970.

He stopped welterweight champion’s Emile Griffith, 70-11, and Cuba’s Jose Napoles, 77-5. He twice defeated first in a unification match Colombia’s Rodrigo Valdes, 57-4-2, and again, retiring with an 87-3-9 record with 59 stoppages.

My three all-time favorite fighters were welterweight champions Cuban’s “Kid” Gavilan and Louis Manuel Rodriguez. I met Gavilan at Muhammad Ali’s Deer Lake, PA, training camp. Rodriguez ended his career with a 107-13 record with 49 stoppages.

My all-time favorite was Puerto Rico’s world lightweight champion, Carol Ortiz. I met him several times. He ended with a 61-7-1 record with 30 stoppages.

Cuba’s Kid Chocolate, the world junior lightweight champion, ended with a 136-10-6 record with 51 stoppages.

Another world champion I met was at an IBHOF event from Mexico, three-division world champion Marco “Baby Faced Assassin” Antonio Barrera. He laughed when I told him how I liked the way he defeated “Prince” Naseem Hamed 35-0.

He won the first eleven rounds and, pinning Hamed in a corner, grabbed him from behind the head and pushed his face into the turnbuckle, losing the only round of their fight. He ended with a 67-7 record and 44 stoppages. One of his opponents was another Mexican in four-division world champion Erik “El Terrible” Morales, 52-9, with 36 stoppages.

My all-time favorite flyweight was Olympic Gold Medalist and world champion Pascual Perez, 84-7-1 with 57 stoppages.
Spain had a former bullfighter turned boxer to become European champion in Luis Folledo, who ended with a 131-6-2 record with 60 stoppages.

Mexico’s world featherweight champion, whose career ended with his early death, was Salvador Sanchez, 44-1-1 with 32 stoppages.
The two-time division world champion from Puerto Rico was Wildred Benitez, 53-8-1, with 31 stoppages. The three-time world division champion from Puerto Rico was Wilfredo “Bazooka” Gomez, 44-3-1 with 42 stoppages.

Cuban amateurs who won 3 Olympic Gold Medals but never turned pro were heavyweights Teo Stevenson, 115-13, with 73 stoppages, and Felix Savon, 276-11, with 158 stoppages.

I know there are many not mentioned, and I look forward to hearing about them from our readers.

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