April 12th, 2011 By Manny CaballeroNew York, NY- As M.M.A. soars in popularity, and boxing’s heavyweight division not bringing forth any excitement of late, we boxing aficionados could have been in trouble. But thanks to the smaller guys, and a rivalry that’s given us fight fans so many great fights over the years, boxing will never die. People say once the heavyweights are gone boxing is over, maybe there is a little truth to that. What the game can’t afford to lose is a rivalry which is full of both history and die hard fans. This rivalry took on a life of its own in the early in the 1970s and is still going strong.
BOXING HAS BEEN INGRAINED IN THE HISPANIC CULTURE
Mexico has produced 110 champions, while Puerto Rico has 61. Both are proud of their champions. Many were or are heroes to them. For a champion to really be appreciated he has to show the fans what he’s made of. Hispanic culture demands their boxers leave there hearts in the ring. The only way out is a decision or on your shield, anything less is a crime. Some recent examples, Nicaragua’s Ricardo Mayorga (29-8-1, 23 KOs) got bombarded by rocks and insults when he lost to Puerto Rican Felix Trinidad (42-3, 35 KOs) because they felt he gave up. After the infamous “No Mas” (no more) it took Roberto Duran (103-16, 70 KOs) a while to be forgiven by his people.
MOST WEAR THEY WEAR THEIR TRADE ON THEIR FACES
A majority of our boxers can be recognize by there nose often flatten or bent, because they would walk through punches to land their own. When they lose, their fellow countrymen mourn with them. But when they win, the celebration goes on for days. One of the biggest P.P.V events was Felix Tito Trinidad vs. Oscar De La Hoya (Mexican-American), Oscar the grouch was despised so bad that Mexico did not consider Oscar one of their own, but that night they adopted him because it was almost a Mexico vs. Puerto Rico battle.
PHILIPPINES WANTS IN ON THE RIVALRY TOO!
According to me and my abacus, Mexico has defeated Puerto Rico 25 times in championship bouts while the island country has prevailed on 18 occasions. So when I saw Mexican Giovanni Segura’s (27-1-1, 23 KOs) destruction of Puerto Rico’s Ivan Calderon (34-2-1, 6 KOs), not only did I feel bad for Calderon who came up way short in trying to win his light flyweight (108 lbs) title back in their recent rematch, it just got me more anxious for the next big fights between those two power houses of pugilism. As islander Juan Manuel Lopez (30-0, 27 KOs) gets ready to defend his featherweight title (126) against Mexico’s Orlando Solido (34-11-2-1, 22 KOs) and P.R.’s Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (19-0-1, 16 KOs) does his thing at 122 vs. Jorge Arce (56-6-2, 43 KOs), a fight in which Arce is trying to become the first Mexican to win titles in four weight divisions, another rivalry has been brewing. Thanks to Manny Pacquiao beating up old Mexican legends, the mauling he gave a weight drained Miguel Cotto, and the devastating KO Nonito Donaire put on Fernando Montiel, both Mexican’s and Puerto Rican’s seek to avenge those loses. Vazquez has said he wanted to face Nonito next. Thanks to the boxing Gods for the smaller divisions and these rivalries because if it was up to our big guys, well we’d be in trouble.
TOP FIVE BOUTS OF MEXICO VS. PUERTO RICO
1. Wilfredo Gomez (122) champ TKO 14 Lupe Pintor; Gomez. Considered by many, including HBO judge Harold Lederman, who worked the fight prior to becoming a TV star, it is one of the best fights in boxing history.
2. Julio Cesar Chavez (140) champ UD 12 Hector “No Macho” Camacho; Chavez gave Camacho his first real beating and loss.
3. Jose Luis Ramirez TKO 4 Edwin Rosario (135) champ. Ramirez goes to P.R. and gets dusts then titleholder Rosario.
4. Salvador Sanchez (126) champ TKO 8 Wilfredo Gomez. Pedro Fernandez, who was at the fight called it the most heated rivalry ever between any two countries, let alone Mexico and Puerto Rico.
5. Giovanni Segura TKO 8 Ivan Calderon (WBO 108 lb. title) In their first encounter in 2010, Segura stopped Calderon’s six year run as champion.