Salvador Sanchez: Counterpunch

“I’m convinced that Salvador Sanchez was the best Mexican fighter of all time. Even better than Julio Cesar Chavez.”    — Wilfredo Gomez

“The greatest Mexican fighter of all-time is Salvador Sanchez, period. Hands down.”
— James Toney

Sanchez dominating Danny Lopez.
Sanchez dominating Danny Lopez.

“He consistently showed the understanding and awareness of a veteran in his early twenties, a testimony perhaps to the number of fights and defenses he crammed into his short career. As a veteran, he might have attained the rare heights of strategic genius reserved for the likes of Archie Moore and Bernard Hopkins.”    — Matt McGrain

Salvador Sanchez’s championship reign was relatively short, but just long enough for the revered Mexican warrior to establish himself as one of the greatest featherweight boxers of all-time. In 1982 he died in a car accident at the age of 23, but, amazingly, he had already won 11 straight championship bouts, including historic wins over fellow Hall of Famers Danny Lopez, Wilfredo Gomez and Azumah Nelson.

Painting by Damien Burton.

Today, had he not died in a car accident in August of 1982, Salvador Sanchez would have turned 60 years old. We acknowledge the occasion and in doing so are reminded of how swiftly time passes, how necessary it is to mark it. Especially in order to recognize and remember true greatness and remarkable achievements. So in that spirit, in tribute to a great boxer and champion, and in honour of his birthday, we bring you analyst Lee Wylie‘s excellent breakdown of Sanchez’s unique and highly sophisticated counterpunching style.

In his final fight, Sanchez turns back the challenge of Azumah Nelson.

When many boxing fans hear the term “counterpuncher,” they naturally think first of a defensive-minded pugilist such as Floyd Mayweather or Guillermo Rigondeaux, a boxer who waits for the opponent to initiate before striking.  But Sanchez was something altogether different, an aggressive counter-puncher, ruthless and calculating, patient and precise. As Wylie notes, there were different facets to Salvador’s technique, but he was most dangerous as a counterpuncher.

Salvador Sanchez
Ink drawing by Damien Burton.

So enjoy another Lee Wylie masterpiece and appreciate again the ring brilliance of the fistic legend that was “Chava.” And maybe raise a glass in honor of the great Salvador Sanchez’s birthday. And wistfully wonder once again as to what might have been.

15 thoughts on “Salvador Sanchez: Counterpunch

  • February 16, 2017 at 6:48 pm
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    You can’t tell me that Lomachenko did not study this man. WOW

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    • February 19, 2017 at 12:12 pm
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      For me Chavez is the greatest Mexican fighter of all times. His record in title fights is top notch, plus he faced the best fighters in every division he fought in.

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      • October 4, 2017 at 1:52 pm
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        Sanchez would have boxed his ears off

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        • March 11, 2020 at 10:44 am
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          He didn’t “box the ears off” of Ruben Castillo or Juan LaPorte. Believe me when I say he wouldn’t have “boxed the ears off” of Chavez. We’re talking a whole other animal here. Ruben Castillo said Chavez not only beats Sanchez, but would’ve knocked him out. His words, not mine. I’m a fan of both and I don’t know who would win as I could see both men winning. It’s hard to imagine either one losing. But, to say Sanchez would box the ears of Chavez off is, well, silly and ignorant.

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          • July 16, 2020 at 4:43 am
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            It may not be so ignorant and silly when you take into account that Sanchez had very stiff competition in his short career when compared to Chavez. You also forget Chavez for all his greatness was extremely limited in his defense. He relied on his chin to pull him through his toughest fights, Taylor being a prime example. Fact is Chava was more versatile, and he had power as well, factor that in with counter-punching, it could go like Chava vs Gomez. Let’s not forget Chavez was gifted the win with Wittaker, Chavez struggled mightily with talented outboxers. In contrast, what held Chava back was his lack of experience, most notably seen with Laporte and Castillo.

      • October 3, 2021 at 9:54 pm
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        One of the best 👌

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  • October 15, 2017 at 1:41 pm
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    Man, I love this video…must have watched it 2 dozen times already. For me Ricardo Lopez, Juan Manuel Marquez and Salvador Sanchez are 3 of my top 4 all time favorite fighters.

    A huge thank you for the great work Mr. Wylie. If I may, a request of Lopez or Marquez would be much drooled over by this affectionado. Thanks for the great work as always.

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  • December 6, 2018 at 1:25 pm
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    Sal was a different breed, not the typical Mexican boxer. His style, utilizing the ring, keeping his composure, analyzing his opponents — very different. It was like he was in a game of chess, taking each piece one at a time. But do not underestimate his ability to pounce if the opportunity arises. Oh, I miss him.

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    • March 11, 2020 at 11:52 am
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      I’ve never understood that cliché of “typical Mexican boxer.” Kid Azteca, Canto, Salvidar, Zarate, Chavez, Lopez, Barrera, Morales, Marquez and others were all technical and sophisticated boxers. They didn’t just wade in and throw haymakers and “take two to land one”. It’s as if Ruben Olivares is the Mexican prototype. Well, he isn’t. All ethnicities, black, white, brown, yellow, purple — it doesn’t matter. They all have representatives of the boxer, the brawler, the boxer-puncher. Sanchez wasn’t a different breed; he fell in a long line of great Mexican “scientific” pugilists.

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  • January 26, 2019 at 2:47 pm
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    What is most sad is that despite all of his achievements in the ring, the man was still years away from his boxing prime! I can envision him moving up in weight and easily winning multiple titles. Truly a great fighter and a tragic ending. May he RIP.

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    • February 5, 2019 at 10:59 am
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      You’re completely right! He always knew how to win.

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  • August 7, 2019 at 7:42 pm
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    Best ever pound for pound in my opinion. Thank you Lee Wylie for this awesome breakdown of Sal’s moves!

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  • January 26, 2020 at 4:50 pm
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    One of my favorite champs with Duran, Ali and Arguello.

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  • August 15, 2020 at 9:39 pm
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    Salvador Sanchez is pound-for-pound and inch-for-inch the number one of all-time. And not just in Mexico. All others not even close.

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  • May 24, 2021 at 10:59 pm
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    Salvador Sanchez had the potential to be’ as good as Sugar Ray Leonard.

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