” The best always misses one pray”, says an old saying, and I missed not one but four, in the recent and extensive work on the prominent presence of Mexican boxers in the universal arena.
I missed four names in the account I wrote almost from memory, using The Record Boxing Books, 1998 edition, volume 15, which I use as a support to locate biographical data on a given fighter. And the memory of which I speak now played me a trick that and I inadvertently left out the mention of outstanding Aztec fighters, who left their indelible mark in the ring in distant times, those four names are Guadalupe (Lupe) Pintor, José “Pipíno” Cuevas, Vicente Saldívar and Salvador (Sal) Sánchez, illustrious names in the sport that has so many millions of followers around the world.
All this explains the reason for this short note, which I offer not before reiterating my apologies for the regrettable oblivion.
Let’s start with Guadalupe (Lupe Pintor, “El Grillo de Cuajimalpa” or “El Indio”, who saw action between 1974-95, WBC bantamweight champion who fought also discreetly and briefly in super bantamweight, whose final record was 56 wins, 41 by KO, 14 losses, 7 before the limit.
Three exceptional stars deserve special mention: Jose “Pipino” Cuevas, Salvador Sanchez and Vicente Saldivar, welterweight and featherweight world champions.
Cuevas, owner of a devastating punch, conquered the WBA 147 lbs. belt with a KO in 2 rounds against Puerto Rican Angel “El Cholo” Espada, whom he dethroned and fractured his jaw on July 17, 1976 – four or five other Pipino’s opponents also ended up with jaw injuries -, when he was 18 years and 7 months old, the youngest of his country to reach the top, in the WBA version. “Pipino” made 12 defenses, of which he won 11 by KO, 2 of them to Espada himself, before being dethroned in Detroit by the then barely known Thomas Hearns, in 2 rounds, four years after his consecration. Today owner of a restaurant and a security company, he declined after the clash with Hearns and left with 35 wins, 31 by KO 9-15 and 6 by KO.
Saldívar, called “El Zurdo de Oro” (The Golden Lefty), fought from 1961-73. He had a record of 37 wins with 26 knockouts and 3 defeats by the same score. He reigned in featherweight for the WBA for a short time and in the WBC from ’65 to ’70, when he lost to the Japanese Kuniaki Shibata.
Salvador Sanchez seemed predestined, because of his qualities on the ring, to be one of the greatest fighters of any era, but at the age of 23 he died in a traffic accident while driving at high speed, on August 12, 1972, 22 days after he had retained his belt against Ghana’s Azumah Nelson by KOT in 15 rounds. His most resounding victory was against the Puerto Rican Wilfredo “Bazoka” Gomez, whom he knocked out in 8 rounds on August 21, 1981 in Las Vegas, Nevada, in defense of the WBC belt. At his death he had a record of 44-1-1, 32 KOS and a future that seemed to have the sky as its limit.
Now I feel more at ease, professionally, in the eyes of the great jury that make up the readers, after having made amends to me.