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Boxing – WBC Featherweight Championship – Salvador Sanchez vs Roberto Castenon


To my way of thinking as a lil ole Chiweenie sportsphile boxing enthusiast….Mexico’s Salvador Sanchez was the greatest Mexican boxer of all time…..better than Bazooka Limon….a one punch artist…..and better than Julio Cezar Chavez…..who definitely had the best record and looked the best on paper….but he ducked a lot of the great fighters of his time…..better than Ruben Olivares, Lupe Pinto, Carlos Zarate, Eric Morales, Canela Alvarez and Marco Antonio Barrera…..cuz Sanchez fought all of the best in the featherweight division before he was 22 years old.  

Salvador Sánchez Narváez was a Mexican boxer….who was the World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight champion from 1980 to 1982. Many of his contemporaries as well as boxing writers believe that….had it not been for his premature death….he could have gone on to become the greatest Featherweight boxer of all time. Sánchez started his professional career at the age of 16….as a teenager (after a brief amateur career consisting of reportedly 4 amateur bouts) he started piling up wins against tough Mexican opposition. His first fight of note came in his 19th professional fight against the Mexican bantamweight champion Antonio Becerra….as Becerra proved too experienced for the young Sánchez….with the bout ending in a split decision defeat for Sánchez….the only defeat of his 46 fight career…..and as Sanchez kept on fighting….he moved to the Featherweight division. Soon he had beaten people like the Puerto Rican featherweight champion Felix Trinidad Sr…..on his way to securing a title shot at world champion Danny “Little Red” Lopez….a popular TV fighter of the late 1970’s….who was an impressive fighter and had won some spectacular fights against the likes of former world champion David Kotei (twice), Juan Malvares and Mike Ayala. Confident and hard to beat….Lopez was beaten by the 21-year-old Sánchez, who knocked out the defending champion in 13 rounds in Phoenix, Arizona,United States on February 2, 1980. Sanchez defended his title for the first time with a 15 round unanimous decision against Ruben Castillo (47–1). Thinking it was just a case of ‘beginner’s luck’ (as it was Sánchez’s first world title fight ever), Lopez looked for a rematch and this he got in Las Vegas, NV. This time Sánchez defeated Lopez by a 14th round TKO….and In his next fight he defeated Patrick Ford (15–0).  On December 13, 1980, Sánchez defeated future champion Juan Laporte by unanimous decision….then defended his title against Roberto Castanon (43–1–0)….as seen in this great fight….and then he scored a win over Nicky Perez (50–3–0). After that fight, legendary undefeated World Jr Featherweight champion Wilfredo Gómez (32–0–1) went up in weight and challenged Sánchez…..as Sánchez retained the crown by a knockout in round eight on August 21, 1981, in Las Vegas….causing Gómez to return to the Jr. Featherweight division.  With the Gomez victory….Salvador Sanchez became a household name all over the United States that night.

In his next fight, he defeated Olympic medalist Pat Cowdell by split decision….followed by his title defense against unheralded Jorge “Rocky” Garcia….which was the first fight featuring two featherweights ever to be televised by HBO…..cuz before Salvador Sanchez….the featherweight division just didn’t have enough television appeal for HBO to cover.  He beat Garcia badly with punch after punch after punch….but the challenger gave honor to his nickname….an unknown fighter who lasts the distance with the world champion.  On July 21, 1982, Sánchez faced future champion Azumah Nelson at Madison Square Garden….as Nelson was a late substitute for the mandatory challenger Mario Miranda….and since Nelson was unknown at the time and was expected to only go a few rounds with the champ….but it turned into an intense battle….with Sánchez managing to drop his young charge in the 7th round….after which they engaged in violent exchange after violent exchange…..and in the 15th round….Sánchez broke out finally by connecting with a serious combination….that dropped the challenger almost outside the ring….as Referee Tony Perez had to stop the fight seconds later. Azumah Nelson went on to have a glittering career and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004.

Sanchez’s dominance as featherweight champion was such that he held title defense victories over the next three fighters (LaPorte, Gomez, and Nelson) who won the WBC title after his death. As he was training for a rematch with Laporte set for September….he crashed on the early morning of August 12, 1982….while driving his Porsche 928 sports car along the federal highway from Santiago de Querétaro to San Luis Potosí….dying instantly.  At the time of his death, there were talks about a bout with Miranda….a rematch with Gómez….or a challenge of world lightweight champion Alexis Argüello. The latter was already off the table….as there had been negotiations between the Sanchez and Argüello camps….but they broke off when Argüello chose to campaign as a junior welterweight. Salvador Sánchez finished his career 44-1-1. Sánchez was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991.


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