Argentina and the Fearsome Foursome

By Ted Sares on October 28, 2012
Argentina and the Fearsome Foursome
The "Fearsome Foursome" from Argentina are hype busters; they are the Real McCoy.

I have always had a great fondness for South American fighters and most particularly those from Argentina…

For gaudy records, great nicknames, legendary fights and especially for high drama, I have always had a great fondness for South American fighters and most particularly those from Argentina. I like drama and where better to find it than in the sport of boxing, and for sheer high drama, Argentina has some great boxing sagas. From the story of “The Wild Bull of the Pampas,” Luis Angel Firpo, to Oscar “Ringo” Bonavena, who met his final opponent at a brothel in Nevada, there are plenty of tales that could be the stuff of screenplays. The saga of Jorge “Locomotora” Castro, 130-11-3 had more than enough drama including the classic with John David Jackson, his near-fatal accident, and his redemptive slaughter of Colombian Jose Luis “La Pantera” Herrera.

The latest fighters from Argentina are hype busters; they are the Real McCoy. Luis Carlos Abregu (34-1, 30 KOs) now joins Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez, rugged Lucas Matthysse, and powerful Marcos “El Chino” Maidana to form as rugged a quartet as there is in boxing. Unbeaten records do not faze them, nor does the hype of fighting a Zab Judah in Brooklyn. Abregu’s stoppage of Thomas Dulorme is just the latest in a series of stunning wins by these tough hombres. The only strange thing is that he didn’t do it in September.

Maidana’s stoppage of the very difficult-to-stop Jesus Soto Karass in September was matched by Matthysse’s crunching September win over unbeaten Nigerian Ajose Olusegun (30-0 coming in). Lucas’ two “defeats” were gift wins for Devon Alexander and the aforementioned Judah. Now that Matthysse is the interim WBC light welterweight titleholder, such bile-inducing robberies should no longer be tolerated. Maravilla’s stunning win over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on September 15 was further affirmation of Argentina’s presence on the boxing landscape. September seemed to be a charmed month.

“El Hurican”

Now 37-1-2, the highly skilled Argentinean Omar Andres Narvaez has done well fighting both inside and outside of Argentina. Amazingly, “El Hurican” retained his WBO flyweight crown for the 16th consecutive time by beating Rayonta Whitfield in 2009. In 2011, Omar lost in an attempt for the super bantamweight title against Nonito Donaire in New York City but has since won two straight defending the WBO super flyweight belt he won from Everth Briceno in 2010. Narvaez is another fine Argentinean pugilist who fights somewhat under the radar, but that could change soon. In fact, he could become a member of the “Fearsome Foursome “making it a “Killer Quintet.”

Looking back

Cesar Brion, who fought everyone that was anyone, went 48-11 and showcased his skills as an Argentinean heavyweight from 1945-1955. Ruben Osvaldo Condori typifies the kinds of records one will find in Argentinean boxing history with a record of 89-44-24. Victor Hugo Paz (alias El Gaucho Salteño) checks in with a hefty 74-47-5. Ricardo Daniel Silva, alias “Kojak,” went 68-27-4. Oscar Jorge “Cachin” Mendez ended with a tally of 86-19-15 while Lorenzo Luis Garcia went 79-24-18. Gustavo “Mandrake” Ballas finished with a remarkable 105-9-6 slate and Ramon “El Matador” La Cruz tallied 104-14-19. But who ever heard of them? Miguel “El Zorro” Campanino did virtually all of his work in Argentina and ended with a marvelous record of 93-5-4. Andres Antonio Selpa (alias El Cacique de Bragado) fought in the ’50s and ’60s and ended with an incredibly active record of 136-51-30—yes, that’s 30 draws. Miguel Angel “El Puma” Arroyo retired in 2005 with a mark of 86-17-5. Gregorio “Goyo” Peralta fought during parts of three decades and had an amazing record of 98-9-9. Unknown Jaime Gine (89-9-16) fought from 1954 to 1966. Ramon Balbino Soria went 76-8-13 and tenacious Horacio “Roquino” Accavallo toted up an eye-popping 75-2-8 mark while duking between 1956 and 1967. He also won the WBA flyweight title in Japan, lost it in Japan, and then won it back in Estadio Luna Park in his very last fight in true dramatic Argentinean fashion.

Speaking of Luna Park Stadium, it is also known as the “Mecca of Latin American boxing” or “the Madison Square Garden of South America.” Many of my favorite Argentinean boxers toiled there including the following:

Pascual “El León Mendocino” Perez (84-7-1)—IBHOF

“Opponents could never be sure what was going to spring out of Perez’s bag of tricks next. His arsenal was vast, and he knew when to press the action against fading foes. Given all of his accomplishments, in terms of name recognition, Perez is still underappreciated.”—Marty Mulcahey

In 1948, he won the gold medal in the London Olympic Games and turned pro in 1952. In 1954, he won the world flyweight championship, successfully defended his title nine times before losing his title to Pone Kingpetch in 1960.

“Vicious” Victor Galindez (55-9-4-2)—IBHOF

“When I was a child I wanted to be a leopard, to be free, to be hunted, to escape. I became one. I wanted to be a champion. I became one. I lived my life the way I wanted. I think I’d now like to become a champion auto racer. It’s a sport less dangerous than boxing. You can die at any moment in boxing. Racing is a lot safer. You don’t have to take any punches in racing.”—Galindez

Galindez had no experience in auto racing, so he went to visit a mechanic/ace driver friend named Antonio Lizeviche to help him learn the sport. Galindez wanted to start as a co-driver and then race his own car when he had enough experience. Lizeviche finally agreed and helped Galindez get his racing license. On October 26, 1980, the pair competed in their very first race together in De Mayo, Argentina. Shortly after the start, the engine broke down. When they got out of their car, other drivers screamed at them to get back inside and wait for help. Suddenly, they were struck by an out-of-control Formula One car going 125 miles per hour. Both Antonio and Victor lay lifeless on the side of the racetrack as cars sped by. They had been killed instantly. It had all happened in a split second and in plain sight of thousands of horrified fans. Victor and Carlos were gone. Argentina cried for both of them.

Carlos “Escopeta” (Shotgun) Monzon (87-3-1)—IBHOF

“Carlos never did stop walking on the wild side and certainly never found the secret to controlling the raging temper that he mastered so well within the roped square.”—Mike Casey

Who can top the legend of Carlos Monzon who lived a charmed and playboy lifestyle during his long reign atop the middleweight division? A fun-loving playboy outside the ring, he was deadly serious in it. Born in 1942 in San Javier, Argentina, he grew up in poverty the fifth of thirteen children. It might well have been that his poor background and difficult childhood instilled a deep anger and rage in him that later would manifest itself in the ring. This powerful and rangy Argentinean became a killing machine who first captured the middleweight title in a shocking upset over the highly favored Nino Benvenuti. Monzon kept winning and retired undefeated over the last thirteen years of his career, his glory and legacy were intact—an amazing feat for someone whose “interests” were so varied.

From the slums of Argentina to glory in the ring, the life of Monzon was volatile, violent and full of drama. It would provide grist for a book, let alone an article. He is buried at Cementerio Municipal de Sante, in Santa Fe, Argentina. A life-size figure of Monzon stands atop his grave. He is wearing his championship belt and his hands are held high in victory.

Luis Federico “El Negro” Thompson (150-14-15)

Born in Panama but an Argentinean citizen, “El Negro” fought mostly in Argentina between 1947 and 1963. He had an incredible record of 150-14-15 and was only stopped twice (early in his career) in 180 bouts. “I am proud to be an Argentinean,” he once said, “and of having taken this citizenship.”

Jorge Jose “Gallego” Fernandez (117-10-3)

Fernandez lost two bouts to the great Carlos Monzon by decision. He also dropped three to the legendary Emile Griffith, but along the way he beat Isaac Logart, Joe Miceli, Denny Moyer (twice), Martinino Pereyra and Adalberto Ochoa. Although he was never able to win a world title, he did earn a number of regional belts including the South American middleweight title which he won by knocking out Fernando Barreto (67-8-1) in Brazil in June 1966.

Nicolino “El Intocable” Locche (117-4-14)—IBHOF

This ring wizard possessed incredible defensive skills that may well have been every bit as good as Willie Pep’s. He was known for his magical defensive tactics, uncanny reflexes and extraordinary ability to feint and make his opponents miss. This earned him the nickname “The Untouchable.” In many of his fights, the fans would burst into song mesmerized as they watched him dazzle his opponents. The event would resemble a soccer match.

Juan “El Látigo” Coggi (75-5-2)

“El Látigo” (aka The Whip) fought under the radar and few American fans knew much about him. He finished with a winning percentage of 91% and a KO percentage of 54. His level of formidable opposition included Jose Luis Ramirez, Harold Brazier (60-8-1), Patrizio Oliva (48-0 coming in), Adolfo Rossi, Hugo Ariel Hernandez (40-1), Ruben Oscar Verdun, Sang Ho Lee (47-1 coming in), undefeated Akinobu Hiranaka, Francisco Cuesta, (27-2-1), and Hiroyuki Sakamoto (19-0). The total won-lost record of his opponents was extremely impressive. Also, he never lost a fight by knockout.

Jorge “Locomotora” Castro (130-11-3)

He retired after crushing Colombian Jose Luis “La Pantera” Herrera at the Municipal Patinódromo in Buenos Aires on January 27, 2007. Avenging a previous loss, he decked “The Panther” four times, as he gained his redemption in no uncertain terms. “Locomotora” fought as a pro for 20 years winning his first 40 professional fights, but few except aficionados know much about him, maybe because most of his fights have been in Argentina. Nonetheless, he has fought the very best during his long career. No stranger to championship belts and fights, Castro won the WBA middleweight title, the South American cruiserweight title, WBA Fedelatin super middleweight title, the Argentine (FAB) light middleweight title, and the South American light middleweight title. And he has also battled for the WBC, IBF, and IBO cruiserweight titles.

Oscar “Ringo” Bonavena (58-9-1)

Bonavena could hit like a mule and was willing to fight anywhere and everywhere. Known as “The Argentine Strong-Boy,” his list of opponents reads like a Who’s Who and included wins over Leotis Martin, Karl Mildenberger, Gregorio Peralta, and George Chuvalo. Ringo was only stopped once and that was by Muhammad Ali in the 15th round. While this affable wild-swinging puncher was a big favorite in Luna Park, he also duked 10 times in Madison Square Garden. Sadly, after a sordid series of events, he was fatally shot in 1975 at the notorious Mustang Ranch brothel near Reno, Nevada. His remains were returned to Argentina to lie in state at the Luna Park sports arena where 150,000 people filed by. It was another case of heavy Argentinean drama.

Santos Benigno “Faluchio” Laciar (79-10-11)

Laciar captured the WBA flyweight crown by starching Peter Mathebula in South Africa in 1981, but lost it to Luis Ibarra three months later. Then, in Mexico in 1982, he beat Juan Herrera to regain the title and defended it successfully 10 times (mostly in other countries) before dropping it to Sugar Baby Rojas in Miami, Florida in 1987. The notion of cherry picking was unknown to the globetrotting “Falucho.” Among his victims were Hilario Zapata, Gilberto Roman, Betulio Gonzalez, Rodolfo Rodriguez, Shuichi Hozumi, Hi-Sup Shin, Prudencio Cardona, Jaime Miranda, Antoine Montero, Jose Rufino Narvaez, Bernardo Manuel Mendoza, Ruben Osvaldo Condori, and Luis Adolfo Gerez. With Monzon and Galindez gone, Argentina was in need of a world champion boxer, and Laciar filled the void remarkably well. Why he does not share their membership in the International Boxing Hall of Fame remains a mystery. But then, entry into the Hall of Fame in general remains a mystery.

Others

There have been many others including Julio Cesar “El Zurdo” Vazquez (68-13-1) who was 53-1 when he lost to Pernell Whitaker in 1995, Hugo Pastor Corro (59-7-2), Ubaldo Sacco (47-4-1), Jorge Victor Ahumada (42-8-2), Juan Domingo Roldán (67-5-2-1) and Carlos Gabriel Salazar (47-8-3).

Jorge Rodrigo “La Hiena” Barrios (50-4-1) last duked in 2010 and has been incarcerated due to a horrific hit-and-run crash that fatally injured a young pregnant woman. However, there are solid rumors that he is out of prison and is planning to come back to the ring. Barrio’s fight with Acelino “Popo” Freitas in 2003 in Miami was a true back-and-forth classic. The eleventh round won The Ring magazine’s Round of the Year award. El Hiena is aptly named as he is as fearsome, rugged and mean spirited as any Argentinean who ever entered the square circle. If he comes back, he could be a force as he is “only” 35 or, as some might say, only at the new norm in terms of age for a boxer.

The current scene

“El Distinto”

Light welterweight Cesar Rene Cuenca is undefeated at 43-0 but has only one KO to his credit. Moreover, he has yet to fight outside of Argentina, though he holds the WBA Fedecaribe light welterweight title, the Argentine (FAB) light welterweight title, and the WBC Latino light welterweight title. While question marks loom, 43-0 is still 43-0, and two of those wins came against Victor Hugo Paz (74-43-5) and Carlos Wilfredo Viches (43-6-2).

“Coton”

Juan Carlos Reveco (28-1) won the WBA light flyweight title in 2007 beating Thai Nethra Sasiprapa, but lost it to Brahim Asloum that same year. However, with a record of 22-1, he regained the interim title by beating Francisco Rosas in Mexico in August 2009. He has held it ever since.

“Yoni”

Jonathan Victor Barros (34-3-1) fights mostly in Argentina with occasional visits to Uruguay. He has been very competitive at the highest level and is due to fight Miguel Angel Garcia in November in Las Vegas.

“Tuti”

Yesica Yolanda Bopp (22-0) is the WBA and WBO Female light flyweight titlist and is very active as she continues to win fans throughout the world. She possesses a stellar amateur background and this is reflected by her technical skills in the ring. Fact is, Bopp can bop.

Omar “Tito” Weis (40-11-4), Hector David “El Tigre” Saldivia (41-3), and Diego Gabriel “La Joya” Chaves (22-0) fight on, while Carlos Manuel “Tata” Baldomir (49-15-6) has seen his best days and should now seek a graceful exit. Promising Billi “The Kid” Facundo Godoy is 26-1 but must regroup after his first loss this past week.

Someday one of these warriors may join the fabled Argentinean greats. However, they must first sprinkle their careers with heavy doses of drama. In the meantime, boxing remains alive and well in this beautiful South American country.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Jack Dempsey vs Luis Angel Firpo



Oscar Bonavena vs Zora Folley



Jorge Castro - John David Jackson I



Ezzard Charles vs Cesar Brion 1952



Nazareno Gastón "El Lobo" Ruiz vs. Víctor Hugo "El Gaucho Salteño" Paz 3ª parte



Pascual Perez vs Alberto Barenghi



Marvin Johnson vs Victor Galindez (rd 10, TKO 11)



Carlos Monzon vs Jose Napoles



Nicolino Locche - The Untouchable!



Jorge Ahumada vs Bob Foster (17-06-1974)



Thomas Hearns vs. Juan Domingo Roldan (1987)



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  1. the thresher 03:38pm, 11/01/2012

    Best to find neutral ground. And I don’t mean Chile or Brazil!!

  2. Joe 10:09am, 11/01/2012

    Also, if you are a foreigner, is impossible for you to earn a decision against a local boxer in Argentina.

  3. Joe 10:04am, 11/01/2012

    Ask any boxer why they don’t like fighting in Argentina? Because if you beat the local guy the public and the police will try to kill you.

  4. Tex Hassler 04:38pm, 10/31/2012

    Argentina has been a hotbed for producing great fighers for many years now. Monzon, Locche, Coggi and many others were truly great fighters. They must have had some great trainers down there. Great article Mr. Sares.

  5. the thresher 07:39am, 10/31/2012

    Dollarbond, it took a long time. Maybe 4 hours +. Also, I’m not counting the videos I watched as preparation. My style is to develop a tree trunk and then put branches and leaves on it. Thank God for cut and paste.

    Thanks for asking. Bottom line is that these pieces take time.

  6. dollarbond 07:11am, 10/31/2012

    How long did it take you to do this one?

  7. MRBILL-HARDCORE XXX 02:34pm, 10/30/2012

    I favor Jorge Castro from South America cuz he’s actually a year younger than me and I saw most of his big fights of the 1990s on Cable, etc….. Of course I like Monzon and Galindez too, but they were a bit before my peak viewing and recording years…...

    Marcos Maidana ain’t even on my list…... In truth, he’s ESPN quality… But since world class boxing is in the crapper now-a-days he has folks believing he’s legitimately world class…... Maidana is tuff and that’s about it…....

  8. the thresher 10:40am, 10/30/2012

    “Johreil Casimero knocked out Argentinian Luis Lazarte at Mar del Plata, Argentina last Feb. 10 to capture the vacant IBF Junior Flyweight Championship but before he was declared a riot happened.

    “Johnreil Casimero whose record is 16-2 with 10 knockouts was a victim of riot when supporters of the losing boxer Luis “Mosquito” Lazarte (49-11-2, 18 KOs) rushed to the ring and attacked Casimero and his team.

    “Empty bottles as well as chairs were raining on the ring during the riots. Securities and Police Officers rushed to the stage but damages have been made already. Some fans even punched the entourage of Casimero.”

  9. the thresher 10:39am, 10/30/2012

    Pug, not quite everything. Check this out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bTLzMFhdT4

  10. pugknows 10:34am, 10/30/2012

    ??????????????

  11. pugknows 10:32am, 10/30/2012

    Hmmmm. Everything you ever wanted to know about Argentina boxing in this one, eh Ted? Excellent read for my boxing education.

  12. MRBILL-HARDCORE XXX 01:22pm, 10/29/2012

    Major overcast with some rain and nice, chilly weather….. No real biggie in Raleigh… I kinda’ like it…... Power still intact in the city…. I’ve seen worse than this since being in town dating back to 2004…..

  13. MRBILL-HARDCORE XXX 01:19pm, 10/29/2012

    I always liked Jorge Castro since he was limited in skills, but tuff as nails and a good whacker at 160 to 168 pounds…  His 1994 comeback from defeat KO over John D. Jackson in Mexico is classic…... Both Dr. Ferdie Pacheco and Bobby Czyz at ringside were in the process of calling the fight over and giving Jackson the victory when Castro launced a hook from left field that hit paydirt….

    SR.BILL

  14. B Red 01:13pm, 10/29/2012

    The wind was pushing me around. Most businesses are shut down except for the delis. There is also no public transportation running. A lot of bridges and tunnels are shut down.

  15. MRBILL-HARDCORE XXX 01:12pm, 10/29/2012

    I’ve always wanted to go and vacation for a solid month or so way down south like in such places of Argentina, Chile and Brasil…. Of course I need to make a stop in Bogota, COL. on my way back to the states, but that another story….. Still, my all-time favorite latino fighter is Roberto Duran from Panama (Central America.)

    1. Duran
    2. Sanchez
    3. Arguello
    4. Chavez, Sr.
    5. Camacho, Sr.

    Billardo

  16. the thresher 11:39am, 10/29/2012

    Thank you Jofre for clearing that up. Still more education for the younger generation of historians and writers. Every little bit helps.

    Meanwhile, I’d like to get some reports on Hurricane Sandy, especially from MRBILL who lives in NC and Pete who resides in NYC.

  17. jofre 09:41am, 10/29/2012

    In doing research on Eder Jofre many years ago I discovered that under Brazilian rules a fighter needs a four-point margin to gain a verdict. That rule accounted for the 4 draws on Jofre’s record. Boxing historian Martin Cameron Sosa of Argentina advised me that the same rule was also used in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

  18. the thresher 08:49am, 10/29/2012

    Irish, doing the research is a big part of the fun because you learn so much. Two things I have learned about Argentine boxers over the years is that they have a lot of draws, and that they have a lot of fights.

    If you do your research carefully, you also provide an article for others to use as a shortcut. This is what Mike Casey does so well. Young writers need these kinds of articles but their egos sometimes get in the way of accepting them.

    Of course if it’s not wriiten by a BWAA member, it must not be as authentic. At least according to Steve Farhood who says non-BWAA writers are “pretenders.” 

  19. the thresher 08:43am, 10/29/2012

    Yes he did, Mike.

  20. Mike Casey 08:28am, 10/29/2012

    Lausse was a terror, Dan! He decked Fullmer and that was a tough thing to do.

  21. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo (aka) Gimpel 07:51am, 10/29/2012

    Ted Sares-The amount of research you effort in your work blows my mind! You’ve reduced your weight by 60 plus lbs….if any part of your weight loss program involved boxing type conditioning there’s just got to be a book there….hope you kept a diary!

  22. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo (aka) Gimpel 07:40am, 10/29/2012

    Which reminds me…let’s see how Danny Garcia fares when Maidana and Mathysse return the favor in spades….which they will….in the aftermath both Danny and Angel just might have to go in for attitude tune ups!

  23. jofre 06:00am, 10/29/2012

    Ted, thanks for the memories of Argentina’s past glorious warriors.  One of my all time favorites is Eduardo (Zurdo) Lausse, who with a little luck could have been middleweight champion of the world in the 1950s. Pound-for-pound he was one of the hardest hitting middleweights of all time.  His left hook was pure dynamite. Today’s version of Argentina bombers are exciting and enjoyable to watch in action.

  24. the thresher 05:41am, 10/29/2012

    Bonavena had great power as Joe Frazier found out. He could knock out anyone on any given night, Pete. When he met up with Joe Conforti, a very unsavory guy, he learned a basic but dadly lesson to wit: Never bring fists to a gun fight

  25. peter 05:02am, 10/29/2012

    Oscar Bonavena was not a nice guy—that’s from all accounts. But he never received full credit for doing what no other heavyweight was able to do during that time period—knock down durable George Chuvalo. The knockdown was not called a knockdown, but it was, in fact, a knockdown. Also, it is my opinion that Bonavena was cheated in his fight with Muhammad Ali. In the last round, after Bonavena was decked, the referee never directed Ali to the farthest neutral corner . Consequently, Ali stood over Bonavena and decked him twice more, and the fight was stopped…Regarding Locche, what a great fighter—awkward, unique and great.

  26. the thresher 04:49am, 10/29/2012

    Coggi is IBHOF materal, Mike.

  27. Mike Casey 01:08am, 10/29/2012

    Magical names, Ted. As you know, I share your love of the Argentinian way. They protect their young prospects sensibly and allow them to mature at their own pace. Monzon was a hidden jewel until he beat Benvenuti. Locche, as you say, was extraordinarily gifted. Coggi, in my opinion, should get more credit than he generally does.

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