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In Memory Of Salvador Sanchez

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Yesterday would have marked the 51st birthday of Mexican legend Salvador Sanchez so in honour of the Boxing Hall of Famer I am reposting this from the old blog:

Salvador Sanchez started boxing professionally at a young age after an amateur boxing career that supposedly spanned only 4 fights. Despite his young age he quickly racked up victories over tough Mexican opposition only coming unstuck when the experienced Antonio Becerra defeated him for the vacant Mexican bantam weight title, the only defeat he would suffer in his celebrated career.
Despite this defeat Sanchez kept on moving forward, he went up in weight to feather weight where he defeated Felix Trinidad Sr, Puerto Rican feather weight champion and father of Puerto Rican legend Felix Trinidad Jr, as he edged closer to a world title shot. On February 2nd 1980 this chance came against, Danny ‘Little Red’ Lopez.

Lopez was extremely confident in his abilities and tough to beat but this did not deter Sanchez and he knocked Lopez out in the 13th round. Sanchez defended his title against Ruben Castillo in a 15 round unanimous decision before he faced Lopez in a rematch. Lopez claimed that Sanchez had benefitted from beginner’s luck so Sanchez went about disproving this theory taking an extra round to dispatch of Lopez by TKO in June of the same year.
Sanchez defended his title four more times including a unanimous decision over future champion Juan La Porte before he faced Wilfredo ‘Bazooka’ Gomez in the biggest bout of his career.
Gomez was an undefeated knockout specialist from Puerto Rico had dominated the super bantam weight division, his victims included undefeated at the time, Carlos Zarate who he had stopped in 5 rounds. He moved up in weight to face Sanchez in August 1981 and sparks flew as the two faced off.

Sanchez started fast and dropped Gomez within 40 seconds but Gomez rallied back to take the second round. Gomez’s eyes began to swell in the third round and Sanchez began to target the affected area to maximise the damage. With the weight of Puerto Rico on his shoulder’s Gomez fought back to take the 5th round and had Sanchez hurt on the ropes in the 6th yet by this time his left eye was badly swollen and his right was closed. Sanchez sensed the weakness and battered Gomez in round 7. This was a precursor to round 8 as Sanchez drove a near blind Gomez onto the ropes and landed a combination that
nearly drove a sagging Gomez out of the ring. Referee Carlos Padilla had seen enough calling off the fight and handing Sanchez the 8th round knockout.
Gomez was the betting favourite in the lead up to the fight so his victory was seen as somewhat of an upset. It catapulted Sanchez from obscurity to stardom amongst Mexican and international boxing fans alike.
Sanchez would fight three more times including a war with an unknown Azumah Nelson in July 1982. The fight was a war that ended in the 15th round when Sanchez almost knocked Nelson out of the ring and caused referee Tony Perez to stop the fight.

At the time of his death in 1982, Sanchez was in training for a September rematch with La Porte. There were rumours abound that he would face Gomez in a rematch or move up in weight to face the light weight champion of the world Alexis Arguello. Sadly neither materialised.

Sanchez died as feather weight champion and had shared the 1981 Ring Magazine ‘Fighter of The Year’ award with Sugar Ray Leonard. More importantly he had carved out a legacy for himself and was recognised as Mexico’s greatest ever champion.
When discussed today Sanchez’s name will always be mentioned amongst the best featherweights like Willie Pep and Kid Chocolate.
The real shame lies in that at the tender age of 23, despite having had 44 bouts, he had much more ahead of him.