BEST MEXICAN FIGHTERS
Compiled by Steve Farhood
Oct. 15, 1998
For the past 20 years, Steve Farhood has covered the boxing world,
as editor of The Ring and KO magazines, ringside reporter for
ESPN, SportsChannel, Showtime, USA Network's TUESDAY NIGHT
FIGHTS and CNN/SI, and columnist for Boxing Monthly.
THE TOP 10 MEXICAN FIGHTERS OF THE LAST 20 YEARS September 14,
A victory over Junior Jones moves Erik Morales closer to a place
among the greatest Mexican fighters of all-time. Here's one man's
list of the 10 best Mexicans of the last 20 years. Note: Only
Mexican-Nationals, and not Mexican-Americans, were considered.
1. Julio Cesar Chavez: From 1990 to 1993, "J.C. Superstar" was the
game's best fighter. A dominant champion at three weights, he's
beaten 13 world champs and lost just two of 104 contests. His
last-second KO of Meldrick Taylor arguably remains the best fight
of the decade.
2. Salvador Sanchez: We can only wonder what the tough but stylish
featherweight champ might have accomplished had he not perished
in a car accident in 1982 at age 23. Stunning stoppage victories
over Danny Lopez, Wilfredo Gomez and Azumah Nelson made him a legend.
3. Ricardo Lopez: The complete package. His competition at
strawweight has been underwhelming, but you can't argue with 21
successful defenses, a record of 46-0-1, and virtually perfect
technique. He does, however, need to avenge his controversial
technical draw with fellow champ Rosendo Alvarez.
4. Chiquita Gonzalez: Like Lopez, the switch-hitting southpaw could
box or punch his way to victory, though he preferred the latter.
Lopez reigned three times at junior fly, defeating a pair of
great fighters, Jung Koo Chang and Michael Carbajal, along the
way. A warrior in the classic Mexican tradition.
5. Lupe Pintor: It wasn't easy following legendary bantam champs like
Carlos Zarate, Alfonso Zamora, and Ruben Olivares, but Pintor
carved his own niche. Physically dominant, the barrel-chested
left-hooker dethroned Zarate and made eight successful defenses.
He also unexpectedly won a title at junior feather.
6. Pipino Cuevas: Some champions score KOs. The stoic Cuevas broke
jawbones and eye sockets. During his four-year run as welter
champ, Cuevas' left hook was the most feared weapon in boxing. He
made 11 defenses (10 inside the distance) before being humbled by
7. Daniel Zaragoza: Boxing's answer to the Energizer Bunny, this
awkward southpaw had more lives than Shirley MacLaine. "The
Mouse" couldn't match most champs in talent, and his skin cut
like wet Kleenex. But he won the junior feather title three times
and squeezes into the top 10 based on his surprise win over Wayne
8. Gilberto Roman: Perhaps the most underrated Mexican world champ
ever, mostly because his marvelous skills were displayed in the
obscure junior bantamweight division. A two-time titlist, Roman
made 11 successful defenses -- and his defense was particularly
9. Marco Antonio Barrera: A work in progress; the former junior
feather champ has to prove he can overcome his twin losses to
Junior Jones. A ruthless pressure fighter, Barrera made eight
successful defenses and peaked at number five in the pound-for-
10. Carlos Palomino: This welter champ enjoyed a classy reign, making
seven defenses before losing to Wilfred Benitez. Armed with a
classic Mexican left hook, Palomino was most dangerous in the
later rounds. The only drawback: With the exception of Mando
Muniz, his quality of opposition was mediocre.
Note: Twenty years ago, Carlos Zarate, a bantamweight, and Miguel
Canto, a flyweight, were reigning world champions. Both Hall of
Famers were past their primes, however, so I excluded them from