Convicted Artist Magazine

Feb 21st
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greatest_mexican_boxers(5) Marco Antonio Barrera - A multi-division world champion in some of Mexico's glamour divisions.  Came from the upper-classes of Mexico, therefore his heart and warrior spirit certainly didn't come from circumstance.  It came from within him as an individual.  Power, speed, combinations, movement, and underrated defensive ability when he wasn't going toe-to-toe.  He even figured out how to beat fighters with odd styles, and slick boxers as well.  Other than the post-head-butt reaction to Junior Jones' right hand, Barrera also displayed a better chin than other Mexican stars of that era: Marquez and Morales.  He also fought many past, present, and future champions... and he'd be higher on this list if he beat them all, but he came back many times when thought to be finished and held his own with the top fighters again.  He also did the one thing that makes you beloved to Mexican fans.  He quieted a loud-mouth from another culture (Hamed).
4) Ruben Olivares - Some may say that Carlos Zarate should be here if Olivares is, but I would say that Olivares showed a bit more against a higher level, for a bit longer time.  Olivares never had it easy... and those kinds of fighters rarely quit.  Halfway to over 100 fights before even receiving a title shot, the unbeaten Olivares won the undisputed Bantamweight title, defended it several times, and only a bad cut against a man he had already beaten (Chucho Castillo) handed him a defeat.  After winning his title back from Castillo, age and a growing body seemed as equal a culprit in his subsequent losses as anything else.  Always a dangerous puncher, and worthy foe at any divison, the tall lanky knockout artists like Eusebio Pedroza, Danny Lopez, and Alexis Arguello proved too much for him in his later career.  He still managed to win ther featherweight title twice, however.  In his prime, and even after it, he was a devastating force.
3) Julio Cesar Chavez - Ok, he may be number one in fame, but a couple have done better in ability.  A legit hall-of-famer and three division world champion he is, however.  No one was better at breaking down an opponent than Chavez.  He could often do so to a lower level fighter, in only 3 or 4 rounds.  Fighters would literally age in the ring with him.  Even punches that looked wasted were not.  Every shot had purpose.  He even had underrated boxing ability, and was able to win a few fights moving backwards... which one would never have expected watching him get his way.  In fact, only some corrupt wins, as well as his ineptness against fast, talented fighters, keep him out of the top spot here.  Other than that, few did as well, for as long, as "El Gran Campeon Mexicano"
2) Ricardo "Finito" Lopez - One of those few is Ricardo Lopez.  Only a lack of top competition keeps him out of the top spot.  But for more than a decade, he was untouchable.  The few ultimate greats find a way to win against any style.  Lopez did so with universal success.  They also find a way to win (legitimately) even when a fighter has their number.  Rosendo Alvarez should have beaten him twice... He couldn't quite do it, either time.  Imagine an active fighter remaining champion for 10 years nowadays.  He also traveled to other countries to fight, and was not a protected champion.  He didn't need to be.  He was that good.  Finally, The best way cap off a perfect career is to step away at the exact right time.  "Finito" even did that flawlessly.

1) Salvador Sanchez - Make no mistake.  I am not romancing this, because he was killed young, and "could have" done a lot.  I am coming to this conclusion because of what he accomplished.  He held the coveted WBC Featherweight title, and with that came a hard road.  His first championship opponent, Danny Lopez, as well as his last, Azumah Nelson, are both also Hall-of-Famers!  Top fighters like Juan la Porte and Ruben Castillo also filled out his resume.  He even did what all the truly great fighters, and usually only the truly great fighters can do... which is go against his own style to win when necessary.  Sanchez, with his inexhaustible stamina, liked to take his time to break down an opponent, and stop them late.  When Wilfredo Gomez, a winner by KO in 17 straight fights, would night quietly comply, Sanchez stepped it up.  He earned the adulation of Mexico by stopping the Puerto Rican star in the 8th round.  The only knock on Sanchez might have been that unheralded opponents like Pat Cowdell, Nelson, and Patrick Ford, tended to give him a tougher time... but Sanchez was still a winner.  And even if he had walked away at 23, instead of dying tragically, he still would have been the most talented figher Mexico has produced in the last 40 years.

Chris Strait

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