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The Top Ten Superflyweights of the Decade: 2010-2019

Matt McGrain

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Appraising the best superflyweights of the past decade was fascinating, not least because of the many excellent fights delivered throughout, but also because of the matchmaking strategy the top superflies almost universally engaged in. Top superflyweights do not duck each other; they duck lesser contenders.

In essence, the best of 115lbs spend time beating up prospects and gatekeepers then stage monumental showdowns with one another for the biggest dollar figure their stature can muster. It is refreshing and strange to work on and the result is this: no other division has delivered such numerically light resumes and no other weight class has seen so many fighters from the decadal top ten face each other.

It made things easier except when it didn’t – numbers one and two are really numbers 1a and 1b this time around, for example.

I hope you enjoy reading about it.

10 – Tomas Rojas

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 20-7 Ranked For: 18% of the decade

There were no fewer than seven candidates for the #10 spot.

Separating them was extremely difficult and Tomas Rojas’s claim upon the position is not irrefutable.  What cemented his placement in the end were his victories over Suriyan Kaikanha and Nobuo Nashiro, who were themselves (briefly in the case of Nashiro) candidates for the #10 spot. Many of the men in contention fought one another. Rojas was the only man without a spot to defeat two of them. It seems a reasonable selection.

Jerwin Ancajas, currently ranked the world’s number four super-flyweight, was my original choice, but his draw against Santiago Barrios is troubling; I can’t find a scorecard for anything but an Ancajas loss in that fight, and for a fighter whose best win was McJoe Arroyo, that won’t do. He was elbowed aside for Zolani Tete, but in the end, Tete’s best wins at the weight don’t quite measure up to those of Rojas and in combination with two losses at the poundage, Tete was barely edged out. Kaikanha, Nashiro and Kohei Kono were briefly considered but fell short for varied reasons and while Kazuto Ioka was an appealing choice, he suffered a defeat to Donnie Nietes. Nietes, on the other hand, fought exactly two fights at 115lbs: a controversial draw with Aston Palicte and that controversial win over Ioka.

So, it is Rojas, who despite some disappointing results higher up the scale lost only a single fight at 115lbs in the decade. His two key wins were unsurprisingly against Nashiro and Kono and his peak performance was Kono; that 2010 contest is worth tracking down for Rojas’s absurd dominance, quick-footed, quick-handed, with handsome, clean southpaw punching throughout. Despite a last round scare it was a blue-chip performance.

Rojas was chased from the division by the wildly inconsistent Suriyan Kaikanha, which is a mark against him, but I’m satisfied he’s the right man for the #10 spot.

09 – Yota Sato

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 9-1 Ranked For: 30% of the decade

Like Rojas, Yota Sato was bogged down in comparisons with the other candidate for the number ten spot, exalted by having, like Rojas, two victories over contenders for the #10 spot. In addition, he racked up more wins at the poundage. Just a little more activity was enough to get him across the line, so little is there to separate them – if only they could have met in the ring, it would have been a tremendous contest.

First of the candidates for this list to be beaten by Sato was Kohei Kono, with whom he clashed in early 2011 for the Japanese superfly title. Kono would go on to become a name that mattered with victories over Koki Kameda and Denkaosan Kaovichit.  Against Sato he deployed pressure, seeking to bull his way inside and deploy bunches.  Sato, who was comfortable on his toes, came down often to duke it out with him but it was the rounds he won on the move that were key. Sato’s footwork is fascinating, high stance, quick moves that licence some fascinating leads, from right hands to left hooks to the body to uppercuts. It was the latter that was the key in the Kono fight, an absolute peach of a counter on the inside dropping Kono for a count. The drama did not end there. Adaption and counter-adaption abounded in what was a fascinating learning fight for both men. Sato was a clear winner on points.

The following year he graduated for real, outpointing a vicious Suriyan Kaikanha. Kaikanha was the real deal, coming off victories over Tomas Rojas and Nobuo Nashiro; Sato dropped him twice in the third which was enough to keep him ahead on all three cards in a gruelling affair that acted as a final gut and chin-check for Sato.

Never less than fascinating, I enjoyed Sato’s career immensely. It was ended, a little prematurely in my view, behind the vicious 2013 thrashing administered by the great Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

08 – Hugo Fidel Cazares

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 10-3 Ranked For: 17% of the decade

Hugo Fidel Cazares is famous, if he is famous at all, for being a victim; a victim of Ivan Calderon at 108lbs in 2008, a victim of Carl Frampton at 122lbs in 2014. He deserves more than this though and in between these two losses he did his best work, most of it at 115lbs. He is not helped here by the bisection of this purple patch by the changing of the decades, but did enough to get him over the line, the first lock of the list.

At the end of the 00s he had fought a thrilling and strangely forgotten immortal combat with the seemingly invulnerable Nobuo Nashiro, a fighter whose tendency to fall short at the highest level saw him only fleetingly considered for this list but whose astonishing durability made for a difficult night’s work for Cazares in a fight scored a draw. In their rematch, however, Cazares showed championship consistency born of experience and banked round after round to put a decision in the bank; it was neither controversial nor thrilling in the manner of their first contest.

It was also the most significant win of Hugo’s decade. Now the number one superfly in the world, he set out to cash in on his status with a series of quick matches against competent rather than glowing opposition before running into the much fresher Tomonobu Shimizu on what was his fourth visit to Japan. Even then the fight was so close that it could be argued he deserved the nod; Cazares was never beaten clearly at 115lbs in this century.

A strange fighter capable of hyperactive perma-feinting or traditional high-gloved occupation of ring centre, he perched so squarely over his leading leg it was sometimes hard to tell if he throwing southpaw or orthodox. He was also never anything less than good value and his smear into obscurity is undeserved.

07 – Tepparith Singwancha

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 27-1 Ranked For: 29% of the decade

Tepparith Singwancha, also known as Tepparith Kokietgym or Panthep Mullipoom, out of Thailand, was one of my favourites in the early 2010s, at least until he ran into Kohei Kono in 2012. The loss was incidental; it was his immediate and shameful retreat into Thailand where he gorged himself on six rounders against soft opposition that turned me away from him. Ignore the 27-1 paper record for the decade. It is a sugared turd.

But Singwancha enjoyed a handsome prime between the turn of the decade and that hurtful knockout loss to Kono. He squeezed in no fewer than thirteen wins in that short space of time, most of them against limited opposition but in back-to-back fights against Drian Francisco (23-0-1), Daiki Kameda (22-2), Tomonobu Shimizu (19-3-1) and Nobuo Nashiro (18-4-1), Singwancha made his bones for the decade.

Of these, it is Nashiro and Shimzu in which we are most interested, and it is Shimzu against whom Singwancha turned in his best performance. Not a fighter blessed with quick feet, Singwancha is a paradigm of consistency in applying pressure, never far from range, almost always in position to punch. Stopped just once he can hold superfly punches and return them with interest but has enough arbitrary head-movement to prevent himself becoming a punchbag. His persistence inflicts disorganisation on any opponent without the firepower or mobility to negate it; Shimzu, who met Singwancha in April of 2012, had neither of these things but nor was he cut adrift. Menaced by Singwancha’s swarming attack in the fourth, he succumbed to it in the ninth still in touch on the judge’s scorecards but overwhelmed by pressure of withering insistence. A ragged one-two punished him along the ropes.

06 – Omar Andres Narvaez

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 20-4 Ranked For: 50% of the decade

Omar Andres Narvaez’s superfly career was a crushing disappointment. He could only be regarded as the divisional number one and yet – and yet, Narvaez did so little of meaning. If “clearing out a division” has a diametric, Narvaez defined it.

The best fighter he met was probably Felipe Orucuta (stopped dramatically last summer by Jonathan Rodriguez) who he first met in May of 2013 and, I would argue, was lucky to do so in his native Argentina. The fight, which was close enough that it could not be deemed a robbery, nevertheless went against Orucuta, the bigger man, the bigger puncher, who seemed to have both outhit and outworked his more prestigious opponent. Orucuta was given a rematch the following year and it was on this night that Narvaez proved himself definitively to be world class.

Narvaez, who had been repeatedly pushed back by Orucuta’s aggression in the first fight, started directly and with precise volume punching but after the first two rounds he drifted again, cornered in the third and hit to the body. From the third it appeared nothing less than a continuation of that first gruelling fight. The difference was that Narvaez, who had lost the final four rounds even on the Argentinian television scorecard for the first fight, came roaring back at his man in tenth through twelfth to edge home by the narrowest of margins on my card and win a majority decision.  It was as clean a gut-check as you might expect to see, and Narvaez passed it with flair and heart.

His number two opponent was Cesar Ceda, a rangy southpaw who also enjoyed a clear size advantage over Narvaez. He also appeared swifter when throwing those long, rapier-like punches, but after a slow start, Narvaez began to find him with regularity and in what was the most impressive performance of his career, Narvaez won a clear decision.

Ceda was probably a little better than his ranking (8), but he was also the last made man Narvaez would ever beat at 115lbs. His resume is barren. Beholden to the alphabets that controlled his career, he imported soft-touch after soft-touch to his Argentine stronghold for a long series of easy wins. When he finally left for Japan and a top five contender (the first he had ever met) he was summarily butchered by Naoya Inoue. So, is he good for the number six spot? Despite the shortcomings his longevity and consistency buoys those three keynote wins to extent enough that six becomes his natural spot – ranked with neither the true elite nor the second tier.

05 – Carlos Cuadras

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 25-3-1 Ranked For: 48% of the decade

Carlos Cuadras has a miserable resume for having been ranked as a flyweight for almost half of the decade but his place in the top five is unthreatened. In the widest terms, Cuadras didn’t do the work but his clashes with the world’s best were frequent and telling – most of all his 2014 defeat of no less a figure than Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Rungvisai was perhaps a year removed from his absolute prime, but he was experienced at 27-3-1 and in possession of the physical gifts that would see him become one of the three most fearsome superflyweights of his generation.

Cuadras dominated him almost completely, and yet the win was not entirely satisfactory. Solving the riddle with fleet footwork and counter-rushes defined by a handy body-attack, he piled up points early, arguably winning all six of six before losing the seventh – but he lost it big, shipping a huge punch to the body before going on the run.  Early in the eighth the two clashed heads, exacerbating a cut a similar clash had caused in the third and resulting in a technical decision win for Cuadras.  Rungvisai had suddenly appeared much closer from the fifth and that sickening bodyshot casts a doubt – but Cuadras emerged with the win, one of the best of the decade despite circumstance.

Two years later he clashed with Roman Gonzalez; soundly beaten on this occasion, Cuadras was nevertheless in the fight and he exceeded expectations to such a degree that in some corners of the internet he was seen a winner. In 2017 though, Cuadras legitimately pushed a pound-for-pounder to the very edge. He pronounced himself “fast, strong and very handsome” ahead of his clash with Juan Francisco Estrada and he proved a chunk of that in the opening four rounds. He took every one of those with a fast, straight jab and his limber mobility. Estrada closed the gap on him late with searing uppercuts before edging Cuadras out by the narrowest of margins, a single point earned via a tenth-round knockdown.

Cuadras perhaps does not have the wider resume to justify the holding the number five spot, his next best win is likely over Luis Concepcion, but he is in many ways the fulcrum upon which the division turned. I am not uncomfortable with his placement.

04 – Roman Gonzalez

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 25-2 Ranked For: 30% of the decade

Roman Gonzalez was one of the decade’s exceptional fighters. 115lbs is where he reached his roof.

Stepping up to his fourth weight division, Gonzalez ran straight into Cuadras and knew about it. On paper it was a fine style advantage for Gonzalez who builds up stream while tracking down a fleet foe, but Cuadras was too big to wither.

What this meant was that Cuadras could afford to trade with Gonzalez, unheard of at lower weights.  Here, at last, Gonzalez underwent his first legitimate gut-check and passed with flying colours, out-fighting Cuadras in the seventh after appearing, momentarily, to have slipped from the box-seat in the sixth. In truth though, Gonzalez won clearly; I gave Cuadras only first and eleventh clearly (and the sixth and tenth narrowly).

Then Gonzalez ran into Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

The story of Gonzalez and Rungvisai is now one of Rungvisai’s dominance and the second fight is the reason why, but in truth Gonzalez was unlucky to drop the decision during their first thriller, landing the cleaner shots and landing more shots. Finding a card for Rungvisai is not easy. The point was rendered moot by their second fight which saw Gonzalez stopped for the first time, but by this point, he had all but guaranteed himself the number four spot with his victory over Cuadras.  Supplementary wins would follow and in 2020 Gonzalez has proved he has much left to give.

03 – Naoya Inoue

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 19-0 Ranked For: 32% of the decade

The Monster, Naoya Inoue, screeched out of 105lbs and continued to take the same bodies he had racked up in the lowest weight division. While 115lbs represented a roof for Gonzalez, Inoue thrived there before steaming north to bantamweight with all the momentum of a heatseeking missile. For him, superfly was a mere bump in the road.

That said, he is the only man in our top five that did not prove himself against someone else in the top five. His defining 115lb moment came against divisional number one and decadal number six Omar Narvaez. Narvaez was Naoya’s first superfly opponent, a man regarded universally as the divisional Don who furthermore had lost but one fight in the fourteen years since he had turned professional. Narvaez was exactly the sort of fighter a physical protégé would be well advised to avoid. Naoya instead paid premium to tempt him from his Buenos Aires fortress.

Then he steam-rolled him. He made not a single mistake in the few short minutes Narvaez was able to live with him, brushing off the punches of one of the most experienced elite fighters on the planet as though he were a rank amateur; supernaturally balanced – finding his slippery foe with a fierce consistency. The right hands to the body he peeled off in the second were beautiful to behold. Just hours after the contest I wrote that he had the look of a “31-year-old veteran rather than a 21-year-old kid” and six eventful years later this remark stands.

Two years later, in 2016, Naoya met number eight contender and Japanese cult hero in a fight widely ignored in the west that had the flavour of a near superfight in the east. Naoya became the first man to crack what was then one of boxing’s elite chins. Naoya’s sixth round knockout of Kono was devastating. The punch that sent him on his way seemed almost invisible and the trailing uppercuts that preceded it in the fifth advocate for the banning of that punch in the boxing ring.

This aside, Naoya beat up a series of emerging talents and gatekeeper types that were wasteful of his great talent; still, in a decadal division where the top tier fighters tend not to exceed a pair of elite names this is more than enough to ensconce him comfortably in the number three spot.

02 – Juan Francisco Estrada

Peak Ranking: Ch. Record for the Decade: 28-3 Ranked For: 30% of the decade

Reigning superfly champion Juan Francisco Estrada is in possession of two wins of such quality it is surprising that they aren’t quite special enough to buy him the number one slot; as it goes, his victory over Carlos Cuadras, a thrilling one essentially determined by a single punch, is not quite enough – Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, as we shall see has the better quality second win.

It is Rungvisai that edges Estrada out. Saying so is not in keeping with this series of articles where some amount of reveal is planned, however futile. These two though, are bound by the decade, the clear 1a and 1b who furthermore have met each other in the ring not once, but twice, a win apiece the frustrating but thrilling result.

Estrada lost the first fight between these two, close but clear and the manner of the loss was disturbing.  He was essentially bossed by a physically bigger fighter who had no fear of his guns.  Turning around such a disadvantage in a rematch is among the most difficult tasks in boxing, so when they met again, just over a year later, I expected more of the same. What we got was an early rout. I scored every one of the first eight rounds for Estrada and for all that Rungvisai stole some late rounds when Estrada went all Mexican, this was a one-sided drubbing.

Estrada achieved this astonishing turnaround – one of the most surprising in the history of rematches in my view – using the simplest of concepts which is also the most physically difficult of tasks. He committed to outfighting the bigger, stronger man with aggressive boxing. The hub on which this strategy turned was a commitment to the left hook, a punch that was conspicuous by its absence in the first fight. Estrada used this drilling punch to head and body, opening himself up to the right jab, a punch he knew from bitter experience that Rungvisai abhorred.

It worked. Such was Rungvisai’s distress he switched to orthodox; such was Estrada’s dominance that he closed out the fight engaging in a shootout, you know, just for fun. Such was Estrada’s dominance that it gives him a good case for inhabiting the number one spot.

He misses out by the narrowest of margins.

01 – Srisaket Sor Rungvisai

Peak Ranking: Ch. Record for the Decade: 46-3 Ranked For: 65% of the decade

Those readers who have paid attention will have gathered the following: I don’t think that Srisaket Sor Rungvisai really deserved the decision over Roman Gonzalez in early 2017; and that Rungvisai’s defeat of Estrada was less comprehensive than Estrada’s defeat of Rungvisai. Why then should Rungvisai (pictured in the left against Estrada) be gifted the number one spot?

Thankfully, there are numerous reasons and although Estrada is breathing down his neck, Rungvisai at number one is not difficult to defend. First, there is his longevity: 65% of the decade in the top ten is not an enormous amount for a cruiserweight, but as we have seen, it is plenty for a superfly.  Rungvisai has been marking up the division since 2013 and has continued to add to resume throughout. His is the way of the Thai and he was out nine times in 2014 alone, usually against opposition that can kindly be described as moderate but consistently building the most numerically impressive ledger in the division – by some distance.

One of only two true divisional champions on the list, it is true that it is his near rival Estrada who is the other – but it is also true that Rungvisai ruled for more than a year while Estrada managed just seven months in the timeframe. These small edges matter in such a close comparison.

And while it is true that Estrada beat Rungvisai more convincingly than Rungvisai defeated Estrada, it is also true that Rungvisai’s win was clear, for all that it was closer. It was not a controversial fight.  A win is a win is a win as the saying goes and Rungvisai holds one over Estrada just as Estrada holds one over him. And yes, Rungvisai’s March 2017 decision victory over Roman Gonzalez was questionable but it also shod the path for Rungvisai’s finest moment, their September rematch.

Rungvisai’s destruction of Gonzalez was so deeply impressive that commentators, chief among them Max Kellerman, immediately began to sell the narrative that Gonzalez was shot when Rungvisai collapsed him. This is fantasy. Gonzalez was excellent in the first fight against Rungvisai and irresistible in 2020 in destroying Kal Yafai. In between these two impressive performances, Rungvisai detonated him, handling him like the former minimumweight he was, sitting him down, brutalising him from the pound-for-pound list.

Gonzalez beat Cuadras; Estrada beat Cuadras – then Rungvisai beat Gonzalez. Once again Rungvisai noses ahead when it comes to direct comparisons between the two. The argument as to who is the better superfly has yet to be settled but the answer as to who was the more accomplished 2010-2019 is known: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Nakornl born Wisaksil Wangek, the greatest superfly of the decade.

The other lists:

Heavyweight

Cruiserweight

Light Heavyweight

Super Middleweight

Middleweight

Light Middleweight

Welterweight

Light Welterweight

Lightweight

Super Featherweight

Featherweight

Super Bantamweight

Bantamweight

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A Fistful of Murder: The Fights and Crimes of Carlos Monzon

Arne K. Lang

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Book Review by Thomas Hauser — Carlos Monzon was born into extreme poverty in Argentina on August 7, 1942. He was mean, violent, surly, brutal, arrogant, occasionally charming, handsome with a smoldering sensuality, and remorseless. His life was marked by street fighting, drunken behavior, domestic violence, and more than forty arrests. In the midst of it all, he found boxing.

Monzon’s story is told by Don Stradley in A Fistful of Murder: The Fights and Crimes of Carlos Monzon. It’s the latest in a series of short books from Hamilcar Publications published under the imprint Hamilcar Noir that deal with boxers whose lives were marked and often terminated by violent crime. Told in 128 pages, the story moves at a brisk pace.

Monzon had one hundred professional fights in a career that began in 1962. He reigned as middleweight champion from 1970 until his retirement in 1977 and was honored as the 1972 “Fighter of the Year” by the Boxing Writers Association of America. All told, he compiled an 87-3-9 (59 KOs) record with 1 no contest. The three losses came during the first two years of his career when he was a novice.

Monzon was a big, strong, tough fighter with a good chin and a basic skill set: stand tall, throw a sharp jab, and follow with a hard right behind it. Mark Kram described him as “a perfectly shaped middleweight, tall with long arms and with style running through every sinew up to his dramatic Belmondo face.”

By contrast, British boxing commentator Reg Gutteridge described Monzon as having “little ring grace” and added “he clubs as if wearing a Roman cestus on his fist.”

Those who question Monzon’s greatness point to the fact that the best of the fighters he beat were past their prime (e.g. Nino Benvenuti) or past their prime and naturally smaller men (e.g. Emile Griffith and Jose Napoles). Monzon was also held to a draw by Benny Briscoe before besting Briscoe on a close decision in a rematch. And he only narrowly defeated Rodrigo Valdez in the last two fights of his ring career.

But as Stradley writes, “A strange thing happened to Monzon in retirement. He became a better fighter. The boxer who had often been dismissed as a classless thug was now revered as an all-time great. During the next decade when lists were made of the top middleweights or of great championship reigns, Monzon’s name would always be near the top.”

How good was Monzon?

Hall of Fame matchmaker Bruce Trampler says that he would have been competitive with any middleweight in any era. More significantly, in 2007, I had a conversation with Bernard Hopkins in which I asked Bernard to speculate as to how he would have fared in the ring against Sugar Ray Robinson, Marvin Hagler, and Monzon. Hopkins’ answer is instructive:

“Sugar Ray Robinson at 147 pounds was close to perfect,” Bernard said. “But at middleweight, he was beatable. I would have fought Ray Robinson in close and not given him room to do his thing. He’d make me pay a physical price. But at middleweight, I think I’d wear him down and win. Me and Marvin Hagler would have been a war. We’d both be in the hospital afterward with straws in our mouth. We’d destroy each other. My game-plan would be, rough him up, box, rough him up, box. You wouldn’t use judges for that fight. You’d go by the doctors’ reports. Carlos Monzon? I could lose that fight. Monzon was tall, rangy, did everything right. I see myself losing that fight more than winning it.”

Stradley’s recounting of Monzon’s ring career is largely pro forma. The more compelling portions of the book lie in the portrait he paints of Monzon’s personal life.

Monzon had virtually no formal education and was close to illiterate. At age 19, he married 15-year-old Mercedes Beatriz Garcia. The newly-wed couple lived with her family in a two-room shack where they slept on a mattress on the floor.

“In many ways,” Stradley writes, “Monzon was the typical wife abuser. He was obsessed with control; he had an evil temper; he drank too much.” In 1973, Mercedes shot her husband in the arm and shoulder after a quarrel between them.

Monzon’s pattern of physically abusing women, assaulting people in public, reckless driving, and other anti-social acts was a constant in his life before, during, and after his championship reign. But as his fame grew, so did his following.

“Monzon,” Stradley notes, “didn’t look like other fighters of the day. He was photographed to look like a stylish Latin pop star, usually in a long leather coat, with plenty of gold jewelry. Argentina’s El Grafico [a popular magazine] treated Monzon like a model, featuring him in regular photo spreads.”

In 1974, while married to Mercedes, Monzon met Susana Gimenez (a popular actress and talk show host). Soon, they were involved in a torrid affair that lasted for four years. At one point, Mercedes complained to her husband about Susana and he punched her in the face, breaking the superciliary arch above her eye. Monzon was arrested and avoided a prison term by pleading temporary insanity. A divorce followed.

Susana’s film credits included adult-oriented comedies. In Stradley’s words, “Monzon had abandoned the mother of his children for a slutty clown. It didn’t help that her sartorial sense ran towards pink denim.”

Even so, Stradley recounts, “Monzon and Susana were now the most photographed twosome in Argentina. Journalist Alfredo Serra estimated they appeared on more than three hundred magazine covers, describing the pair as combining ‘the strength, beauty, fame and glamour of the world in a single couple.'”

During his championship reign, Monzon parleyed his fame as a fighter into several film roles. Then he retired; his relationship with Susana ended; and he met Alicia Muniz Calatayud.

Alicia had worked as a model and belly dancer in addition to once managing a hair salon. She and Monzon married in Miami because his divorce from Mercedes wasn’t recognized under Argentine law. They lived together from May 1979 through August 1986 and again during a brief reconciliation in 1987. On several occasions, Alicia filed complaints with the police alleging that Monzon had beaten her.

By 1988, Stradley writes, “Monzon was still famous but no longer important. Most of the time he was drunk.”

On February 14, 1988, during a weekend they were spending together, Monzon murdered his estranged wife.

“Here’s what probably happened,” Stradley posits. “When Alicia came for the weekend, she reminded him that he was late with his monthly payments [for child support]. They returned from their night out, a night where they’d been unfriendly to each other and a witness had seen Monzon hitting Alicia. At some point before 6 a.m., she said something that made the dynamite in his head go off.”

Monzon told conflicting stories after Alicia’s death, all of which centered on the claim that she’d accidentally fallen over a balcony railing during an argument between them. Then an autopsy report revealed that Alicia had been strangled to death.

“Medical examiners,” Stradley recounts, “estimated thirty-five pounds of pressure or more had been applied to Alicia’s throat. Strangling only requires eleven pounds. They estimated it had been done with a two-fingered grip, probably thumb and forefinger in a kind of one-handed death clamp. It takes only twenty seconds or so to strangle someone into unconsciousness. The damage to Alicia’s throat would take much longer. It wasn’t done by accident or in the heat of the moment. It took a few minutes of full-on rage. Alicia had been strangled long after she had passed out. It’s also rare that a strangling victim has visible marks on the neck or throat. The imprints on Alicia were clear and deep, as if someone had tried to squeeze her head off at the neck. He dumped her body over the balcony to make it look like she’d fallen.”

Monzon was charged with murder. The trial was broadcast live on radio throughout Argentina. Monzon testified that he and Alicia had argued about money and admitted that he had slapped her. “I have hit women on other occasions and nothing happened to any of them,” he told the court. “I hit all of my women except one. My mother.”

A three-judge panel found Monzon guilty of murder. He was sentenced to eleven years in prison with the possibility of time off for good behavior.

By 1993, Monzon was allowed to spend daytime hours and weekends outside of prison. On Sunday, January 8, 1995, after attending a barbeque, he was behind the wheel of a car, probably drunk and definitely speeding.

“By the rules of his furlough agreement,” Stradley writes, “he had to be back at the Las Flores prison by 8 p.m. He didn’t want to risk being late. He only had a short time left to serve on his sentence and didn’t want any infractions on his record. So he drove fast. He’d always been a terrible driver. Being in prison hadn’t made him any better at it.”

While speeding back to the prison, Monzon lost control of the vehicle which turned over multiple times, killing him instantly. Two other passengers also died in the accident. He was 52 years old.

After Monzon’s death, his body lay in state at City Hall in his hometown of Santa Fe. An estimated ten thousand people filed past it. Twenty thousand more lined the route to the Municipal Cemetery while six thousand mourners waited at the cemetery entrance.

Argentine president Carlos Menem told the nation. “Remember Carlos Monzon as a champion, not as a man jailed for murder.” But Argentinian journalist and political commentator Bernardo Neustadt took a contrary view, declaring, “We are a macho society that idolizes a man who beats or violates a woman; a macho society that taught Monzon to dress up, to speak a bit better, but didn’t teach him to think; a macho society that wasn’t horrified when Monzon said he beat all his women.”

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His next book – Staredown: Another Year Inside Boxing – will be published by the University of Arkansas Press this autumn. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. He will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame with the Class of 2020.

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Lipinets and Clayton Battle to a Draw at the Mohegan Sun

Arne K. Lang

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Tonight’s PBC show at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino, billed as a “Showtime Special Edition,” was to feature Sergey Lipinets against Kudratillo Abdukakhorov in the main event. That match-up would have pit fighters born in neighboring countries in Central Asia, the first major fight of its kind on American soil, but Uzbekistan’s Abdukakhorov had visa problems and a Canadian filled the breach.

Custio Clayton, whose 18-0 record was suspect because he had done all his fighting in Eastern Canada, proved to be more than just a worthy opponent. The 33-year-old ex-Olympian from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia held Lipinets (now 16-1-1) to a draw and the general feeling was that he had done just enough to edge it out. Don Trella scored the 12-round welterweight bout for him (115-113), but Trella’s counterparts Glen Feldman and Tom Schreck both had it even at 114 apiece.

Conspicuously bigger than Lipinets – to the eyes if not on the scale – Clayton did his best work in the late rounds. Lipinets, briefly the IBF world 140-pound title-holder (he lost the belt to Mikey Garcia; no shame there) is something of a one-dimensional fighter and as the rounds wore on he connected with fewer punches on the more multi-dimensional Canadian.

In theory, the winner would have been in line for a match with Errol Spence.

Martinez-Marrero

Prior to tonight, Sacramento junior lightweight Xavier Martinez had never fought beyond the eighth round and tonight it appeared that he wouldn’t see the ninth. He was on the deck twice in round eight and nearly didn’t make it to the bell. But he lasted the full 12 to win a well-earned unanimous decision over Claudio Marrero

Marrero, a 31-year-old southpaw from Santo Domingo, DR, was well behind on the scorecards when he caught Martinez with a big right hook shortly after the start of the eighth round. He pressed his advantage and knocked him down again with a flurry of punches. But Martinez recuperated and prevailed on scores of 115-111, 114-112, and 114-112 to keep his undefeated record intact, advancing to 16-0.

This was quite a departure from Martinez’s previous bout when he knocked out his opponent in 21 seconds. Marrero (24-5) lost for the fourth time in his last five outings. The match was billed as a WBA 130-pound title eliminator.

Matias-Hawkins

The TV opener was a 10-round junior lightweight contest between Malik Hawkins and Subriel Matias. Hawkins, a former National Golden Gloves champion from the same Baltimore gym that produced Gervonta Davis, came in undefeated (18-0). Puerto Rico’s Matias, who opened his career with 15 straight knockouts, was looking to rebound from his first defeat, having lost a 10-round decision to Petros Ananyan on the Wilder-Fury II undercard.

Matias’s bout with Ananyan was his first start since his match will ill-fated Maxim Dadashev. The Dadashev tragedy may have preyed on his mind, but according to his promoter Juan Orengo, he was lax in his training for Ananyan. Whatever the case, Matias rebounded from that defeat tonight, saddling Hawkins with his first pro loss.

Matias forged ahead in the sixth, knocking Hawkins to his knees and then pursuing him around the ring to apply the finisher. Hawkins survived the onslaught but had no argument when he was pulled out by the ring physician before the next frame.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Juan Francisco Estrada KOs Carlos Cuadras; Chocolatito Wins Too

David A. Avila

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Juan-Francisco-Estrada-KOs-Carlos-Cuadras-Chocolatito-Wins-Too

WBC super flyweight world titlist Juan Francisco Estrada led a triumvirate of world title fights with a sizzling knockout victory over Mexican rival Carlos Cuadras to retain the world title and set up a future clash with former foe Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez who won his bout in the co-feature.

In front of a small Mexico City crowd Estrada (41-3, 28 KOs) proved he could defeat Cuadras (39-4-1, 27 KOs) again and did it emphatically to retain his title by knockout. There was no squabbling about scorecards in this clash like their first encounter in 2017 that ended with Estrada by decision.

It did not begin well for Estrada who endured Cuadras imposing his strength and speed behind a very strong left jab in the first three rounds. And then a sneaky right uppercut followed by a left hook sent Estrada down for the count in the third round.

But that only proved to be a spark for the fighter known as “El Gallo.”

Estrada realized he was falling behind, especially after the knockdown. Instead of counter-punching, the boxer from Sonora, Mexico began moving forward and became an aggressor. The dynamics of the fight changed suddenly.

Cuadras was hurt by a body shot in the sixth round and spent most of his time looking to avoid more contact. Estrada was in full control.

Despite the change in momentum no round was easy for either Mexican pugilist. Both exchanged freely always looking to end the fight with a big blow. Though each were hurt at times, neither showed signs of relenting.

From the eighth through the 10th round Cuadras seemed to find a second wind, or maybe it was desperation. The Mexico City native known as “Principe” fought possessed and managed to swing the momentum back toward his way for maybe two of those rounds.

In the 11th round both exchanged blows and Estrada connected with a left and right and down went Cuadras. The former world champion got up and was then floored with a counter right cross. He got up again a little shaky and Estrada attacked with a four-punch combination that forced referee Lupe Garcia to stop the fight for a technical knockout at 2:22 of the round.

Estrada retained the WBC super flyweight world title and will now meet Chocolatito.

Chocolatito

Nicaragua’s Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (50-2, 41 KOs) proved that an opponent like Mexico’s Israel Gonzalez (25-3) can be faster, taller, longer and younger but the Nicaraguan will find a way to beat you. He did that with a convincing unanimous decision win after 12 rounds to retain the WBA super flyweight world title.

Chocolatito will now probably meet Juan Francisco Estrada for a long-expected rematch. In their first encounter back in 2012, the Nicaraguan won by decision in Los Angeles.

Chocolatito looked dominant in his ability to deflect the speedy combinations by the young Mexican fighter Gonzalez. Nothing worked against the Nicaraguan who skillfully manipulated his way through barrage after barrage and connected inside with body shots and uppercuts.

It was a masterful performance.

JC Martinez

Mexico City’s Julio Cesar Martinez (17-1, 13 KOs) was defending his WBC flyweight world title against Moises Calleros (33-10-1) a virtual bantamweight weighing more than 7 pounds over the 112-pound flyweight limit. Even the extra weight could not help him.

In the first round, Martinez exploded with a blistering three-punch combination the sent Calleros to the floor dazed and confused. He beat the count and survived the round.

The second round wasn’t too kind for Calleros who became the punching bag for the quick-fisted Martinez who opened up with a nine-punch salvo that forced the referee Cesar Castanon to end the slaughter at 2:42 of the second round.

Other Bouts

Diego Pacheco (10-0, 8 KOs) used his height and reach to score a knockout with a snapping right uppercut to the chin of Mexico’s Juan Mendez (12-3-2) in a super middleweight fight. The end came at 2:02 of the second round with Mexican referee Rafael Saldana stopping the fight at the perfect moment.

Austin “Ammo” Williams (6-0, 5 KOs) powered through Esau Herrera (19-12-1) with body shots and combination punches to win by knockout in a middleweight battle. The end came at 1:36 of the fifth round.

Otha Jones III (5-0-1, 2 KOs) and Mexico City fighter Kevin Montiel (6-0-1) fought to a split draw after six rounds in a super featherweight clash. Both fighters started quickly with Jones having good rounds in the middle portion of the six-round fight, but he tired and allowed Montiel to rally from behind. The scores were split with 58-56 for Jones, 58-56 for Montiel and 57-57.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom

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