In America, every year between September 15 and October 15th, we recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans.
In the last few years, September has been one of the two biggest boxing months due to the Mexican Independence holiday and the commencement of Hispanic Heritage month, which begins shortly after.
Since we are currently in September, I asked the NYFights crew to weigh-in and give me their favorite Hispanic fighter while also explaining the reason behind it.
NYFights's senior writer, the Jazz Man, John “Gunner” Gatling said, “For me this is fairly easy, its Hector Camacho by a country mile. He was brash, he was cocky; not the hardest worker in the world, but he was by far the most talented fighter to ever come out of Puerto Rico. He had it all, and I felt this way before I met him. I was dating a woman from Bayamon, Puerto Rico back in Summer 2011 and was preparing for a fight, when I had a chance encounter with the “Macho Man” in Tampa. He was also from Bayamon, saw that I was a southpaw and had a wild streak like him. We clicked. Had lunch at Columbia Restaurant and sat down at the University of Tampa later, where I recalled to him that I'd ran with Miguel Cotto as he trained for Manny Pacquiao in 2009. “Miguel is aight, he does a lot of things good but I would've beat him. I am motherf*ckin Puerto Rico!” Hector said. He told me a great many things about the behind-the-scenes treachery of boxing, and how he didn't really take Edwin Rosario seriously enough, in what was his toughest fight. Hector literally used cocaine, dope and got laid throughout damn near every training camp and I'm still calling him the greatest Puerto Rican boxer ever. He got in the face of Salvador Sanchez and swore to me that he would've beaten him. Claimed he wasn't allowed to beat Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya or Felix Trinidad; and that because no one in boxing gave a shit, he beat the shit out of a 41 year-old Sugar Ray Leonard. I recently lost a very close friend to gun violence and was heartbroken when I heard about what happened to Hector in Puerto Rico a year later. Had kept in contact with him on and off for several months until he went back. He was a friend. He was as talented and as pure a boxer as anyone will ever see and the world never really got to witness his best. Ask Roberto Duran this same question and he won't hesitate. Hector Camacho was the greatest Puerto Rican fighter of all-time.”
I then reached out to the Texas Bull, Kelsey McCarson and he said to me, “Viva Erik Morales! I just loved the way Morales competed. He was a consistently excellent boxer and a fierce warrior. His legendary trilogy with Marco Antonio Barrera helped form me into the boxing fan I am today. Those were great fights between two all-time greats and I don't think I'd love boxing as much as I do now had those fights never happened. My two favorite memories of Morales are seeing his epic performance against Marcos Maidana in 2011 on television and watching him from ringside give Danny Garcia hell in their first fight the following year. At this point, Morales was older, slower and fighting way above his natural weight. But man did he fight his ass off anyway. Everyone can be special when everything goes their way. But truly special people can fight the way Morales when everything was against him.“
Hey David Phillips, the NYFights readers want to know what your thoughts are on this topic. “I thought about this question for a long while. It's something I've never asked myself before. Upon much consideration, I found my answer surprised me. Miguel Cotto. He was not the greatest Hispanic fighter ever, but he's the one I've felt the most attached to over the years. Because he was so very human in the ring. I often wonder how good Cotto could have been had it not been for the beating he took at the loaded hands of Antonio Margarito. I believe something was taken from him that he could not get back. However, he reinvented himself after that terrible fight and produced a very fine third act. I always felt like I could see the real Cotto when he was fighting. I remember one particular bout where he was in a real dogfight. His dad leaned over to give him encouragement in the corner. Miguel leaned forward and kissed his dad on the cheek. I'll never forget that. Cotto fought with his heart.”
Fresh off his Vegas trip, Colin Morrison said, “Erik “El Terrible” Morales is my favourite Hispanic fighter of all time. Other fighters of note like Barrera, Marquez and Cotto were also favourites of mine but the aggressive style Morales fought with made him the top man in my book. I can remember some mid 90s hype about a young fighter in the 122lb division and as a result most of his fights got picked up by TV over here. His first world title win over Daniel Zaragoza confirmed the hype was not misplaced. It was a thrilling changing of the guard fight and launched Morales on the road to greatness. Titles at 126, 130 and 140lbs although his most memorable fights were the trilogy with countryman Marco Antonio Barrera. Morales also did a trilogy with prime Manny Pacquiao (1 win, 2 losses). He retired with a record of 52-9-0 with 36KOs. His record reflects his willingness to take on a challenge. What is left is a career full of iconic moments and a back catalogue of entertaining fights for us to watch over and over again. Viva Morales! “
Last but not least, I was able to pull away Johnny Wilds for a few minutes from his girlfriend “The L.A traffic” since he spends more time in traffic than anything else and he said “It won't come as a shock to anyone who knows me that my favorite Hispanic fighter of all time is Juan Manuel ‘Dinamita' Márquez. I was turned on to Juan Manuel by now good friend Rich Marotta- “God’s honest truth, I thought he was something special from the first fight I called of his,” said broadcasting veteran Rich Marotta, who did the TV commentary for Marquez’s first fight in the U.S. back in 1994. “He knocked out a journeyman named Israel Gonzalez in four rounds in the walk-out bout of the evening and I remember saying ‘Let’s see more of him.”
Wilds: “I watched Juan Manuel on KCAL 9 every chance I got and Rich called his first 21 fights. Juan Manuel would go on to become the 3rd Hispanic fighter to become a world champion in 4 weight classes. His career last over 20 years and amassed a (56-7-1 40 KOs) record and was never stopped in his career. He will be forever remembered for his 4 fights with rival and eventual hall of fame fighter Manny Pacquiao where he was 1-2-1. The fight boxing fans will always remember though was his vicious KO over Manny in their final fight in December of 2012. Marquez walked Pacquiao to a right hand with one second left in round six that left Pacquiao unconscious on the right floor for several minutes. Juan Manuel, for me, was the best combination and counter puncher I have watched. His career was filled with ups and downs but one thing's for certain, he will always be my favorite Hispanic fighter of all time!”
For me, it has to be Felix “Tito” Trinidad. He was not only a champion in the ring but outside the ring as well. Puerto Ricans loved him like the character Rocky Balboa was loved by the people of Philadelphia. In the ring, he was a savage competitor who had a left hook that put many to sleep during his career. The Fernando Vargas fight immediately comes to mind as a notable fight to me as Vargas was undefeated at the time and really believed in the Puerto Rico-Mexico rivalry that has long been around in boxing. That fight had some real bad blood and it showed as soon as the bell rang. We all know what happened but the real story was the energy and buzz surrounding the fight that night which made it memorable. I will never forget that fight. He represented Puerto Rico to the fullest and was a role model to his people. That is why he is my favorite of all time.
So who was your favorite Hispanic Fighter?