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The Best Mexican Boxers of All Time

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (left) and Jermell Charlo. Photo credit: Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

Mexico is a country with a rich boxing tradition, producing some of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport. Mexican boxers are known for their fan-friendly style, where heart, courage and resilience stand out. From the early days of Juan Zurita, the first Mexican world champion in 1913, to the modern era of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the current pound-for-pound king, Mexico has given the world many memorable champions and epic fights.

But who are the best Mexican boxers of all time? This is a difficult question to answer, as there are many factors to consider, such as achievements, skills, longevity, opposition, popularity and impact. Different fans and experts may have different opinions and criteria, but here is one possible list of the top 10 Mexican boxers ever, in no particular order.

Julio Cesar Chavez

Fondly known as “El Gran Campeon Mexicano,” Julio Cesar Chavez is arguably the greatest Mexican boxer of all time. The Sinaloa native and Hall of Famer had a record of 107-6-2, with 85 knockouts, and won world titles in three different weight classes, becoming the first Mexican to do so. He also set the record for most championship fights fought with 37, of which he won 31, drew two and lost four. He remained undefeated for 90 fights and was recognized in 1990 as the best boxer in the world. He also holds the attendance record for a boxing fight with 132,274 fans, a record that has been held since the 90s.

Some of his most notable victories include wins over Edwin Rosario, Jose Luis Ramirez, Meldrick Taylor, Hector Camacho, Roger Mayweather and Greg Haugen. He also had memorable rivalries with Pernell Whitaker and Oscar De La Hoya, although he lost both fights.

Salvador Sanchez

One of the eternal figures of Mexican boxing, Salvador Sanchez not only left a mark for what he did in the ring, but also for the tragic nature of his death. With two years as champion and seven as a professional boxer, thanks to his qualities in the ring, Sal won the admiration of all and sundry. He died in an automobile accident at the age of 23, but after having defeated historical fighters such as Azumah Nelson, Wilfredo Gomez, Juan Laporte, Ruben Castillo, among others.

Sanchez was a featherweight world champion who had a record of 44-1-1, with 32 knockouts. He was a masterful boxer-puncher, who could adapt to any style and situation. He was also known for his calm demeanor and humble personality. He is widely regarded as one of the best featherweights of all time, and one of the best fighters in any division.

Carlos Zarate

Owner of a devastating punch, one which led him to build a record of 66-4, with 63 knockouts, Zarate was one of the best bantamweights of all time and one of boxing’s most powerful punchers. He challenged 11 times for the world championship and won 10 of them by knockout. Zarate tested himself against Alfonso Zamora (in the legendary “The Battle of the Z’s”), Wilfredo Gomez, Lupe Pintor, Jeff Fenech and Daniel Zaragoza, remaining undefeated for 52 fights.

Zarate was a tall and rangy bantamweight, who used his jab and straight right hand to set up his opponents for his lethal left hook. He was also a skilled counterpuncher and a relentless finisher. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.

Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez.
Photo credit: Action Images/Reuters/Steve Marcus

Juan Manuel Marquez

With numerous world titles and wins over, among others, Marco Antonio Barrera, Joel Casamayor, Juan Diaz, and Manny Pacquiao, “Dinamita” is a true contemporary great. Marquez had a record of 56-7-1, with 40 knockouts, and won world titles in four different weight classes, from featherweight to junior welterweight. He was a brilliant technician, who combined speed, power, accuracy and intelligence. He was also a fierce warrior, who never backed down from a challenge and always gave his best.

Marquez is best known for his epic quadrilogy with Pacquiao, one of the greatest rivalries in boxing history. After three close and controversial fights, Marquez finally knocked out Pacquiao in the sixth round of their fourth encounter, in what is considered one of the best knockouts of all time.

Ruben Olivares

One of Mexico’s idols and one of the first to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Olivares was the first Mexican double world champion. He had a special connection with the fans and during his 23 active years he won the WBA and WBC bantamweight crowns, as well as the WBA and WBC featherweight crowns. He had a record of 89-13-3, with 79 knockouts, and was one of the most exciting and charismatic fighters of his era.

Olivares was a natural fighter, who had a great instinct and a killer instinct. He was a fast and aggressive boxer, who could punch with both hands and had a granite chin. He had memorable fights with Lionel Rose, Chucho Castillo, Efren Torres, Bobby Chacon, Jose and Alexis Arguello.

Ricardo Lopez

The numbers say it all: 21 successful title defenses, 51 wins, 38 knockouts, zero defeats. An amazingly accomplished ring technician, “El Finito” was one of the most dominant champions in boxing history. He won world titles in two weight classes, strawweight and junior flyweight, and unified all four major belts in the former. He was also the first boxer to retire as an undefeated world champion.

Lopez was a complete fighter, who had no weaknesses. He was a master of distance, timing, rhythm and angles. He had a superb jab, a sharp right hand, a vicious left hook and a solid defense. He was also a classy and respectful champion, who never trash-talked or disrespected his opponents.

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 14 title defenses, defeating the likes of Betulio Gonzalez, Lupe Madera, Martin Vargas and Antonio Avelar. He had a record of 61-9-4, with 15 knockouts, and was a slick, defensively gifted boxer, who scored only 15 stoppages in 61 career wins.

Canto was a master of the art of boxing, who used his footwork, head movement, feints and combinations to outsmart and outbox his opponents. He was also a durable and courageous fighter, who never quit or gave up. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.

Vicente Saldivar

One of the greatest southpaws in boxing history, “Zurdo de Oro” was a featherweight world champion who had a record of 37-3, with 26 knockouts. He won the title from Sugar Ramos in 1964 and defended it nine times, before retiring in 1967. He came back in 1969 and regained the title from Johnny Famechon, before losing it to Kuniaki Shibata in 1970. He retired for good in 1972, after losing a rematch to Famechon.

Saldivar was a relentless pressure fighter, who had a high work rate, a powerful left hand and a strong chin. He was also a smart and tactical boxer, who could adjust to different styles and situations. He had memorable fights with Ismael Laguna, Howard Winstone, Jose Legra and Raul Rojas.

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. He had a record of 67-7, with 44 knockouts, and was one of the most versatile and complete fighters of his generation.

Barrera started his career as a hard-hitting brawler, who relied on his power and aggression. He later evolved into a more refined and skillful boxer-puncher, who could box and counter as well as brawl and slug. He was also a proud and passionate fighter, who always gave his best and never backed down from a challenge.

Saul Alvarez

The current face of boxing, “Canelo” is the undisputed super middleweight champion and the consensus pound-for-pound king. He has a record of 57-1-2, with 39 knockouts, and has won world titles in four different weight classes, from junior middleweight to light heavyweight. He has also faced and defeated some of the best fighters of his era, such as Miguel Cotto, Gennady Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, Sergey Kovalev, Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders.

Alvarez is a phenomenal boxer, who has improved and matured over the years. He has a great combination of speed, power, technique and ring IQ. He has a solid jab, a devastating body attack, a crisp uppercut and a strong defense. He is also a confident and charismatic fighter, who attracts millions of fans