Carlos Santos is a former boxer from Puerto Rico….who was fought for his country in the 1976 Montreal Olympics…where he was eliminated in the quarterfinals. Santos debuted as a professional boxer on November 11, 1976 by outpointing José Collantes over four rounds in San Juan. He obtained his first knockout victory in his third fight…..when he beat Juan Polanco in the third rounds. Santos was involved both in the first and the fourth world title bouts involving two Puerto Rican boxers facing off in the ring in history….as Carlos’ first fight abroad came when he beat Mario Valoy by a third round knockout in Panama City, Panama during that same year….then on April 8, 1978….he knocked Collantes out in the fifth round of their rematch. After three more wins in Puerto Rico….Santos had a fight in the Dominican Republic when he beat Mario Ramos by a knockout in the eighth round on April 2, 1979. On his very next fight, Santos outpointed Felix Pagan Pintor….the future trainer of Wilfredo Gómez…then after beating Kid Flash by a third round knockout on December 1st…he moved temporarily to Italy in his search for attention from boxing executives…..plus the celebrity status was more in play than it was in Puerto Rico. On April 4, 1980, Santos made his European debut by knocking out Charles Petersen in the second round at Milan….followed by winning his seven fights in Italy all by knockout.
An interesting fight happened on December 20 of 1980 in Turin:…when Santos was credited with beating Alfonso Hayman….a fringe contender of the era….as Hayman was under a medical suspension in Italy at the time….however, having been knocked out only eight days before Santos’ fight….so, his opponent that night is listed on his record as an “unknown opponent”….something you don’t see very often…..especially in professional sports.
Carlos Santos made his United States debut on May 23, 1981….a day in which Wilfred Benitez became the first Hispanic to be a three division world champion in history by knocking out Raul Aguirre in the fifth round as part of the Benitez-Hope fight’s undercard. Santos was 22-0 with 16 knockouts when he received his first world title shot on November 14, 1981 while facing Wilfred Benitez…a fight that made history by staging the first world championship bout between two Puerto Rican boxers….as Benitez defeated Santos by a fifteen round unanimous decision and retaining the WBC world Jr. Middleweight title….so, having lost his undefeated boxer status….he returned to Italy where he won seven bouts with five of them by knockout….as Santos had a second chance at becoming world champion. When he faced Mark Medal….a New York native who is also Puerto Rican….became the first Puerto Rican boxer to face two Puerto Rican boxers in world championship fights. On November 2, 1984, at New York’s Madison Square Garden….with Gómez among his fans in the crowd….Santos dropped Medal in the first round….became the IBF world junior middleweight champion by beating Medal with a fifteen round unanimous decision….then retained his title on his first defense by outpointing Louis Acaries over 15 rounds on June 1, 1985 in Paris, France. A proposed second defense against Davey Moore was within days of taking place….when Moore got injured and the fight never took place. Santos had to await a little more than one year for his next fight….when on June 4, 1986….Santos lost his title for the second time to Buster Drayton….in a very close fifteen round majority decision.
On September 6, Santos was scheduled to meet another Jr. Middleweight. For an unknown reason, his rival did not show up….so, since the boxing under-card was being televised live across Puerto Rico….a heavyweight boxer, Melvin Epps, was brought in as a substitute….as Santos was giving Epps more than 40 pounds and a considerable difference in height advantage…when Santos won the fight by a first round knockout. On his next fight, Santos faced former world welterweight champion Donald Curry for the USBA’s regional junior middleweight title….Santos was disqualified in the fifth round of his last major fight. Carlos Santos had 40 wins and 3 losses in 43 fights, with 27 wins by knockout. He never lost a fight by knockout himself.
Any way you cut the pie….this was another golden age of boxing phenomenal match-up between to great boxers who are being forgotten in the annals of boxing history in the summer of 2016. Had either of these guys fought in any other era…..they would have been dominant…..and maybe even super greats.