Who are the best Mexican boxers in history? Who’s the GOAT? What place is Canelo in?
With fight night set for Saturday in Vegas we take a look at the man considered to be Mexico’s greatest boxer in history, but is he and who are the others?
Regarded as one of the powerhouses of boxing, Mexico has given us some of the best fighters to ever step into a ring anywhere. With that said, we decided to count down the best to ever represent the country. Here we go!
Mexico & The Tradition of Fighting
Quite some time has passed since Mexico celebrated its very first world champion back in 1913 with Juan Zurita. In that time, some 171 champions have brought honor to the tricolor in rings across the globe. From then until now, Mexico’s fan friendly style of putting heart, courage and resilience first has endeared its fighters to boxing fans the world over. Yet who are the best of the best and what did they achieve? With no further ado and in no particular order, let’s get into it!
Rubén “Púas” Olivares (Career: 1965-1988)
As one of the country’s true idols and the first boxer to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Ruben Olivares’ inclusion on this list is a ‘no brainer.’ El Púas - the first Mexican double world champion - had a special relationship with fans and in his 23-year career he won the WBA and WBC bantamweight crowns, along with the WBA and WBC featherweight titles. The favorite of many fans, the legend remained undefeated across an incredible 62 fights.
Julio César Chávez (Career: 1980-2005)
Yet another example of an automatic selection for this list, the Sinaloa native and Hall of Famer registered an astonishing 107-6-2 record, of which 85 were KOs. On top of that, he did so across three separate divisions, becoming the very first Mexican to do so. If that wasn’t enough, Julio César Chávez also set the record for the most championship fights fought, with 37. If you’re wondering, he won 31 of those, drew two and lost four. For 90 fights he remained undefeated and was fittingly recognized as the best boxer in the world in 1990. Believe it or not, he still holds the attendance record for a boxing fight, with 132,274 fans.
Salvador “Sal” Sánchez (Career: 1975-1982)
The sad thing about Salvador Sánchez was how soon his life tragically came to an end at the tender age of 23. One of the greatest representatives of Aztec boxing, Sal was admired far and wide. Indeed, at the time of his tragic death in a car accident, he had been champion for two years in a career that had lasted just seven. At the very least we can remember his epic victories against established fighters such as Azumah Nelson, Wilfredo Gómez, Juan Laporte and Rubén Castillo, to name a few.
Carlos “Cañas” Zárate (Career: 1970-1988)
Power punch fans will remember all too well Carlos Zárate’s brutal force. It’s no secret in fact that that force led him all the way to a 66-4 record to the tune of an unreal 63 KOs. Zárate’s time in bantamweight is regarded as one of the best periods of any fighter in history. This after all was a fighter who challenged for the world championship on 11 occasions and came out on top in 10, courtesy of a KO in each.
Raúl “Ratón” Macías (Career: 1952-1962)
Largely considered to be the first true Mexican legend, Raúl Macías forged out a record of 41-2 with 25 KOs in just 10 years. The champion of the National Boxing Association - later becoming the WBA - Macías was known as the idol of Tepito. His eventual loss to Alphonse Halimi would be regarded as a turning point and indeed, he would retire young. Following his time in the ring, Macías enjoyed using his fame to surround himself with equally famous people such as Mexican movie legends María Félix, Pedro Infante and “Cantinflas.”
Erik “Terrible” Morales (Career: 1993-2012)
Perhaps one of the most exciting fighters ever to step into a ring, Morales’s aggressive and extremely technical approach was more than impressive. As the first Mexican to win in four different divisions, his credentials as one of the greatest can’t be doubted. This was the same fighter who became the first from his country to beat the legendary Manny Pacquiao. There were also victories against the likes of Junior Jones, Wayne McCullough, Marco Antonio Barrera, Kevin Kelley, Guty Espadas Jr., and Jesús Chávez to name a few.
Marco Antonio “Baby-Faced Assassin” Barrera (Career: 1989-2011)
Involved in an epic trilogy fight with Morales who was mentioned above, Marco Antonio Barrera had a hit list that included the who’s who of boxing at the time. A three-time world champion from Iztacalco, Mexico City, he will be well remembered for the manner in which he dismantled Naseem Hamed in 2001. Yet one has to include the fact that he also took down fighters like Paulie Ayala, Robbie Peden, Rocky Juarez, Juan Manuel Márquez, Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan in a career that saw him enter 25 championship fights - winning 21 and losing just four.
Juan Manuel “Dinamita” Márquez (1993-2014)
When Manny Pacquiao was floored in their fourth fight, Mexicans knew they were witnessing arguably one of the greatest moments in their country’s history in the sport of boxing. “Dinamita” would go on to be the second four-time champion in history and was the owner - it must be said - of a rather ‘polite’ style of boxing.
Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez (Career: 2005-Present)
Last but by no means least, we have Canelo himself. As the only remaining active boxer on the list, we thought it only right that we place him at the bottom of the list. Though his career is not yet over, it would be a mistake to think that Álvarez’s legacy is not secure. At 33 years old, he’s won in four different categories and is the only Mexican in history to be an undisputed champion. His record of 59-2-2 with 39 KOs is downright scary and word is he plans to take his skillset to a fifth category. Currently, the pound-for-pound king, Canelo likely has at least five years left in him and with that, you can be assured he will be looking to take another step towards greatness when he defends his undisputed super middleweight championship against undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo on Saturday, September 30th.