Top 12 All-Time Greatest Mexican Boxers

A while back your preferred independent combat sports website had a special week on Mexican pugilists called “Mexican Style” and part of it was a spirited debate regarding just who are the best Mexican boxers of all-time. So what better time than Cinco De Mayo to feature the resulting Top 12 list? These are the greatest Mexican pugilists ever, as ranked by Rafael Garcia and Michael Carbert.

12.Rodolfo “Baby” Casanova: While “Baby” never won a world title, he more than held his own in one of boxing’s most competitive eras, amassing 81 wins and scoring victories over, among others, Kid Azteca, Baby Arizmendi, Juan Zurita and Freddie Miller. His battle with Sixto Escobar in 1934 is considered the very first chapter in the legendary Mexico vs Puerto Rico rivalry.

11. Marco Antonio Barrera: A true Mexican warrior, “El Barreta” won world titles in three different weight classes, coming back from defeat to assert his greatness with wins over Kennedy McKinney, Naseem Hamed, Paulie Ayala, Erik Morales, Kevin Kelley and Johnny Tapia.

Erik Morales of Tijuana, Mexico (R) exchanges blows with Marco Antonio Barrera of Mexico City, Mexico in the first round of their WBC super featherweight championship fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada November 27, 2004. REUTERS/Steve Marcus JSH/SH Reuters / Picture supplied by Action Images *** Local Caption *** RBBORH2004112800074.jpg
Barrera and Morales mix it up.

10. Erik Morales: The first Mexican boxer to win world titles in four different weight classes, “El Terrible” defeated 15 world champions, including Barrera, Junior Jones, Daniel Zaragoza, Paulie Ayala and Kevin Kelley. His decision victory over Manny Pacquiao in 2005 is one of the greatest wins ever by a Mexican fighter.

Erik Morales

9. Ricardo Lopez: The numbers say it all: 21 successful title defences, 51 wins, 38 knockouts, zero defeats. An amazingly accomplished ring technician, “El Finito” would no doubt be higher on this list if he had faced more formidable competition.

Was the undefeated “El Finito” TBE?

8. Miguel Canto: Regarded as one of the greatest flyweight champions in boxing history, Canto took the title from Shoji Oguma in 1975 and proceeded to notch fourteen title defenses, defeating the likes of Betulio Gonzalez, Lupe Madera, Martin Vargas and Antonio Avelar. A slick, defensively gifted boxer, he scored only fifteen stoppages in 61 career wins.

Miguel Canto
Miguel Canto

7. Vicente Saldivar: One of the greatest southpaws in boxing history, “Zurdo de Oro” owns victories over Ismael Laguna, Sugar Ramos, Howard Winstone and Jose Legra.

Saldivar: deserves a boost.
Vicente Saldivar

6. Alberto “Baby” Arizmendi: With wins over the great Henry Armstrong and closely contested bouts against the likes of Tony Canzoneri, Chalky Wright, Lou Ambers, Sammy Angott and Freddie Miller, there’s no doubt this featherweight world champion is a true “Mexican Style” legend.

“Baby” Arizmendi

5. Juan Manuel Marquez: With numerous world titles and wins over, among others, Barrera, Joel Casamayor, Juan Diaz, and Manny Pacquiao, “Dinamita” is a true contemporary great.

Marquez by Damien
Juan Manuel Marquez (Painting by Damien Burton)

4. Carlos Zarate: One of the greatest bantamweights of all-time and one of boxing’s most powerful punchers, Zarate won 55 straight before falling to a prime Wilfredo Gomez. His knockout win over Alfonso Zamora in 1977 is one of the great victories in Mexican boxing history.

111Zarate-Zamora

3. Ruben Olivares: A three time world champion with one of the best left hooks in boxing history, “El Puas” is a legend of Mexican pugilism and one of the greatest bantamweights of all-time.

Ruben Olivares

2. Julio Cesar Chavez: Boasting 107 wins with 86 knockouts, “El César del Boxeo” dominated his era, defeating a long list of champions including Edwin Rosario, Tony Lopez, Greg Haugen, Roger Mayweather and Meldrick Taylor.

How would JCC have fared against Pacquiao?
Chavez Sr.

1. Salvador Sanchez: A fatal car accident cut short the career of Sanchez, but during his brief time at the top he established himself as an all-time great, scoring a series of convincing wins, including victories over fellow Hall of Famers Danny Lopez, Wilfredo Gomez and Azumah Nelson.

24 thoughts on “Top 12 All-Time Greatest Mexican Boxers

  • April 26, 2016 at 5:15 am
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    I had a sparring partner who went the distance with Julio Cesar Chavez…and as I scrolled down the page with nary a mention of Salvador Sanchez…until getting to the final but best call of number one…great stuff! He was one of the best ever. Technique and versatility. What a tactician. Thanks Rafael Garcia and Michael Carbert.

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  • May 27, 2017 at 11:53 pm
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    I have always said: Sanchez’s versatility in the ring made him the greatest Mexican fighter and the greatest featherweight of all time.

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  • May 6, 2018 at 5:55 pm
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    Chava is one of my favorite fighters: stamina, ring generalship, power, ring smarts…

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    • August 27, 2020 at 3:42 am
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      Chavez is regarded by most as the greatest ever. His victories over Rosario, Camacho and Taylor were very impressive.

      Reply
  • July 29, 2018 at 4:03 pm
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    I love Mexican boxers. They are relentless warriors, fight with integrity and honor, and they never quit.

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    • October 22, 2021 at 7:50 pm
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      True, the only exception is Chavez Jr.

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  • August 28, 2018 at 1:26 pm
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    Honorable Mention: Lupe Pintor

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    • August 26, 2020 at 2:08 am
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      I totally agree, even though Lupe had 14 losses total, 5 of those came in his comeback career starting in 1994. In my opinion, he is one of the hardest hitting bantamweight boxers in the history of the sport. He was a two weight division champion and he successfully defended his title 8 times at bantemweight. He totally deserves to be in the hall of fame and to be mentioned with the greatest bantamweight ever. This might be saying a lot but I believe he could have given any bantamweight in the history of boxing a tough match. Very underrated boxer overall!

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      • October 22, 2021 at 7:47 pm
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        Pintor is a World Boxing HOF member. He was inducted into that HOF in 2002. He was also inducted into the International Boxing HOF in 2016.

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  • October 5, 2019 at 6:15 am
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    Chavez was the best Mexican fighter ever. Sanchez right behind him. Canelo will be right there as well one day.

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    • February 14, 2020 at 12:22 am
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      Julio Cesar “Home Cookin’” Chavez? One “win” with four seconds left? Another “win” when Sweet Pea whipped him? I’ll take Sanchez and “El Finito” any day.

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      • October 15, 2020 at 10:55 pm
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        You are right, Sanchez was the greatest.

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      • October 19, 2021 at 9:47 pm
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        Whipped him? All I saw was Whitaker running away most of the fight. Besides, every great boxer has lost a fight or two!

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  • October 21, 2019 at 12:03 pm
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    That’s a bad-ass video of Sanchez. I can see why he is at number one. My dad always told me about Sanchez, that he was the best. I can see why. R.I.P. Pops.

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  • November 6, 2019 at 6:12 pm
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    Today I learned Roberto Duran isn’t Mexican.

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    • September 28, 2020 at 4:22 am
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      His father was Mexican American. Was in Panama with US Army when he met Roberto’s mom.

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      • November 13, 2020 at 9:51 am
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        Well somewhat, because his Dad was a Mexican-American soldier from Arizona. He was stationed in Panama when he fathered the great Roberto Duran.

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    • November 9, 2021 at 2:39 am
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      No question Canelo is the greatest Mexican fighter of all time. Just became the first Mexican to ever unify all 4 major belts. One of only 6 fighters ever in the entire world to do it. And this article, written only 6 months ago, doesn’t even have him in the top 12? Complete bullsh*t. Shame.

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      • November 18, 2021 at 1:17 pm
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        His career isn’t finished, but he is definitely top three at this point. People won’t consider him the greatest until later on down the line, and many will still consider Chavez the greatest. But once those born in the 60s thru 80s are too old to have a say Canelo will be considered the greatest of all time. But in my book, Sanchez is number one.

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  • January 1, 2021 at 11:45 pm
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    Who are the best Gringo fighters?

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  • June 5, 2021 at 11:11 am
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    The short piece about Juan Manuel Marquez, please this is as great a warrior as there ever was , in fact his absolute KO of Manny Pacquiao is a highlight real as he also has been one of the greatest ever !

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  • October 2, 2021 at 4:53 pm
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    finally a website that recognizes Salvador Sanchez as the greatest boxer of mexican decent.

    Those of us old enough to remember his fights observed Sanchez’/s great endurance, movement, punching power, ring intelligence and granite chin.

    To all you Chavez fans I say this: Chavez (in the same weight division) could of never handled Sanchez’s movement around the ring. Sanchez would of won that fight by majority decision .

    I WOULD LOVE TO SEE A MOVIE MADE ABOUT SANCHEZ . TOO BAD HE GOT KAYO’D BY BEER AND DRUNK DRIVING !

    Reply

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