This Friday, one of the great legends of world boxing passed away; Cuban-Mexican Jose “Mantequilla” Napoles. The former champion of the World Boxing Association (WBA) left the world at the age 79 in Mexico City, where he lived.
Born in 1940 in Santiago de Cuba, Napoles also adopted Mexico as his home. The Antillean became a champion for the first time in 1969, when he beat Curtis Cokes to capture the WBA welterweight belt.
Napoles had to leave Cuba when professional boxing was banned on the island by Fidel Castro after his arrival in 1959. That was the reason that led him to Mexico, where he took the best of the Cuban style and combined it with what he could learn in Mexico.
When boxing was banned in Cuba, Napoles already had eight battles and thanks to his decision he did not see his career derailed due to the ban on boxing in his native country.
The Cuban impressed the world with 15 defenses of his welterweight belt to become one of the most dominant champions of the weight class. Many fans remember the fight he lost against Carlos Monzon in 1974, which came with a disadvantage in weight as he rose up in class to contest the middleweight title and lost by TKO in the sixth round.
However, that setback does not tarnish the great career of Naples, and in fact only adds to it, as he maintained his 147-pound belts after receiving a permit to climb to the next division.
He retired in 1975 with a record of 81 wins, 7 losses and 54 knockouts. A boxer worth remembering and a glory of the sport that is going to be missed. Fly high, “Mantequilla”, thanks for giving so much to boxing.