Alexis “The Thin Man” Arguello: A Class Act in and Out of the Ring
By: Ken Hissner
This writer once had the privilege of meeting the great 3-time world champion Alexis “The Thin Man” Arguello, of Managua, Nicaragua, in Atlantic City, NJ, as he was preparing to fight Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini in 1981. He fought in Atlantic City four times during his career.
This writer had a picture taken with Arguello along with Bethlehem, PA, lightweight Bobby Johnson and his trainer Ernie Butler. Butler was also the trainer of Larry “Easton Assassin” Holmes prior to Don King getting involved. I was given a signed picture by Arguello. He mentioned during the week of the Mancini fight how he sat alone with a military field jacket on in a chair with his leg’s straight out. All of a sudden here comes Mancini busting through a double door with his entourage!
Mancini prior to the fight talked about how Arguello was one of his boxing idols and he did make a good account of himself. He was only behind 127-122, 127-125 and 125-123 going into the fourteenth round of the scheduled fifteen round bout in October of 1981.
Agruello won the WBC World Lightweight title in his previous fight defeating Scotland’s southpaw Jim Watt, then 38-7, over fifteen rounds at the Empire Pool, in Wembley, London, UK, in June of 1981. Watt would retire from boxing after this defeat.
It was his fifth title defense for Watt. In his two previous two fights in 1980 he defeated 1976 Olympic Gold Medalist and Val Barker winner (most outstanding boxer) Howard Davis, Jr. 13-0, over fifteen rounds in June. He defeated Sean “Bubble Gum Kid” O’Grady, then 73-1, in November by TKO 12 due to an ugly gash requiring 11 stitches. Both fights were in Glasgow, Scotland.
Arguello after winning his first three fights turning professional at the age of sixteen in Managua, Nicaragua, lost back to back bouts in 1969. He was stopped in four rounds by Omar Amaya making his debut and who never fought again. The following month the next loss was to Oscar “Alacran” Espinosa, 0-1, who Arguello had defeated in his second fight. Both fights were split decisions. Espinosa didn’t fight again for five years. It makes one wonder that both Nicaraguan boxers never fought again and the other not for five years about the punishment they may have taken from Arguello.
In Arguello’s next fight five months later he traveled to San Jose, Costa Rica, for the only fight outside of Nicaragua in his first thirty-four fights. That would have been in Panama when he fought for the WBA World Featherweight title losing to champion Panama’s Ernesto Marcel, 39-4-2, by decision over fifteen rounds. Would you believe Marcel retired from boxing after that fight?
Arguello would go onto win his next sixteen fights, thirteen by stoppage after suffering the back to back losses. He would lose for a third time due to an injured hand and a cut to Jorge Reyes, 7-6, of Mexico in the sixth round of a scheduled ten rounds. Reyes never returned to Nicaragua and would go onto lose six of his next seven bouts before retiring. His losses were to opponents with a combined record of 158-36-11. His win was over a 9-9-1 boxer.
Arguello would earn the world title fight with Marcel by defeating such boxers as Kid Pascualito, 81-25-19, of Paraguay and Cuban Jose “Pocket Cassius Clay” Legra, 129-10-4, living in Spain. Both by stoppages. Five months after Marcel’s retirement fighting for the vacant title would be Ruben “El Puas” Olivares, 75-4-1, of Mexico and Zensuke Utagawa, 25-4-2, of Japan, with Olivares scoring a seventh round knockout.
Four months after winning the WBA World Featherweight title Olivares would make his first defense against Arguello at the Inglewood Forum in California losing his title by thirteenth round knockout. He would go onto defend his title four times with over ten non-title wins.
Next up for Arguello would be the WBC World Super Featherweight title in champion Alfredo Escalera’s home town. He was one of the dirtiest fighters in boxing. Arguello had him down in the second round and all cut up so that by the thirteenth round Arguello would be crowned the “new champion!”
After one non-title fight and two defenses Arguello would lose in a non-title fight to Vilomar Fernandez, 22-6-2, in ten rounds. He would be victorious in four non-title fights and five title defenses before moving up to lightweight for his third division world title. In those five defenses he defeated Bobby “School Boy” Chacon, 42-4-1, and Ruben Castillo, 46-0, by stoppage.
In order to win that WBC lightweight title he would travel to Wembley, UK, and defeat southpaw Jim Watt, 38-7, of Scotland, who retired from boxing after that defeat. He would go onto score five straight knockouts with the last one being the only non-title bout over Kevin Rooney, 19-1. The title defenses were over Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, 20-0, Roberto Elizondo, 23-1, James Busceme, 27-3, and Andy Ganigan 34-3.
In moving up to fight for the WBA World Super Lightweight title he had to take on the undefeated and dangerous Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor, 31-0. He was behind on two of the scorecards and stopped in the fourteenth round. Pryor’s trainer Panama Lewis asked for the “black bottle” which Don Elbaum mixed for them. It contained something to give Pryor super power.
In between rematches Arguello avenged his loss to Vilomar Fernandez. Then came the second fight with Pryor who was just too big for Arguello who was knocked out in the tenth round. Arguello then took a year off before returning to the ring in of all places Alaska where he stopped Pat Jefferson, 24-5, in five rounds. Then moved up to welterweight stopping former super lightweight champion Billy Costello, 31-1, in four rounds.
Arguello attempted to come back after six and a half years winning a majority decision over Jorge Polomares, 8-12-1. He should have realized he no long was the fighter he once was. In his next and final fight he lost by decision to Scott “The Pink Panther” Walker, 17-3-1, cousin to 1976 Olympian Chuck “White Chocolate” Walker.
Arguello ended up 77-8 with 62 knockouts, in January of 1985. In 1992 he was inducted into the IBHOF. He was also inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame. Lupe Sanchez and the legendary Eddie Futch were his trainers.
In 1994 Ring Magazine named Arguello “The Greatest Junior Lightweight of all-time”. In 2002 they named him the “Eighth Greatest Featherweight of all-time”. In July of 2009 it was reported he died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the chest. From 1998 to 2001 he would serve as a boxing judge traveling to five different countries. On a trip to a boxing event in New York after this I would end up sitting next to his son.
More Boxing History
Alexis Rocha: “I Come To Get You Out Of There.”
By: Sean Crose
“I’ve always had that professional style,” says 10-0 California welterweight Alexis Rocha, “ever since the amateurs.” Having scored seven of his ten pro wins within the distance, it’s easy to see how the jump from amateur to professional boxer was less than strenuous for the twenty year old. “I’ve never been about that pitter-pat, get your pitter-pat and score your points,” he adds. “I’ve always been the guy to go in there and settle down on my punchers and knock you out. And be patient at the same time.”
Some fighters romance time spent in the amateur ranks. That certainly isn’t the case with Rocha. “I love it way better than the amateurs,” he says of being a paid boxer. “You’re getting paid to do what you love.” Another reason Rocha prefers the pros is that his preferred fighting style didn’t always gel within the amateur ranks. “I feel that’s cost me many fights,” he claims. “Like I said, I always had a professional style and amateurs don’t look at that. It’s about getting your points and moving out of there.” Here is a man who is clearly more comfortable in the big leagues. “They don’t even count body shots,” he says of amateur judges. “I’m known for body shots.”
Photo Credit: Golden Boy Boxing Twitter Accout
Rocha, it should be said, comes from a fighting family. He’s the brother of the WBC silver featherweight titlist Ronny Rios, but the family connections don’t end there. “My oldest brother (Salvatore Rios) used to box. He was the gateway for all of us to start boxing,” states Rocha. “He started boxing first. Ronny tagged along, then – little by little – I tagged along.” Though Rocha adds that his “little brother had no interesting boxing whatsoever.”
Boxing has clearly made the young fighter’s life interesting. “I’ve been to countless states. I’ve been to about four countries: Russian, Ukraine, Germany and Italy,” he says. Yet boxing hasn’t always made life easy for Rocha. Time spent away from school, for instance, certainly took it’s toll. “They gave me packets of homework, these little study guides,” he says. “For a little bit, I was going to go into independent studies, but man it was hard. I’m not going to lie. It was miserable getting packets of homework, getting back, being behind, (and) basically failing every class. So it was up to me to get back in school and just start studying for every test and passing every test.”
Now that his high school days are over, however, Rocha is focused on the task of prizefighting. “I make weight comfortable,” he says of fighting as a welterweight at 5’10 ½ inches tall. “I’m always under. I’ve never been on the dot and for every fight I’ve been underweight by at least half a pound. I make it comfortable. Yet again, I’m still only 20 years old. I feel like I’m definitely maturing and I’ve still got my baby muscles.” There’s a good chance he’ll eventually move up in weight, then? “I’m barely 20,” he says, “but hopefully within the years, as time goes on, I want to move up to 154.”
Rocha is also comfortable with his ring skills and potential. “I’m a boxer puncher,” says Rocha. “I come to get you out of there, but I don’t just look for one punch. I put my punches together. I start everything off with the jab.” Rocha makes it clear, though, that he’s no wild man in the ring. “I’m very patient,” he says. “I don’t go out there reckless. I go out there using the stiff jab, working the body breaking this guy down.”
Although he’s still fairly new to the game, Rocha has an eye on the wider scene around him. “It’s stacked,” Rocha says of the welterweight division. “You’ve got great opposition out there. It’s great. You’ve got Keith Thurman, Errol Spence. I feel like I’m developing into a strong welterweight and I feel that I will be the next one forty seven welterweight superstar out there. I have the ability. I have the confidence in my ability to do it.”
Oscar De La Hoya certainly has confidence in Rocha, who he signed onto his Golden Boy stable. “Oscar De La Hoya, that was the guy I just looked up to from the Olympics all the way up to the end of his career,” says Rocha. “The dream’s turning to reality. It’s crazy.” Having strong backing certainly helps to make the future promising. “It’s definitely a big motivation, a big blessing, to be signed with Golden Boy,” he says. Still, Rocha likes to keep things in perspective.“My plans are always the same. I’ve always got to look forward to the fight in front of me.” With an eye, of course, on the future.
“Hopefully,” he says, “by next year, early next year, I’ll be fighting for something big.”
The Cuban Heavyweights Professional and Amateur!
The Cuban Heavyweights Professional and Amateur!
By: Ken Hissner
TEOFILO STEVENSON was 6:03 andin 1972, 1976 and 1980 won Olympic Gold Medals.He won World Gold Medals in 1974, 76 and 1980. He won Pan Am Gold in 1975 beat future WBA championMichael Dokes, 79 and a Bronze in 1971. He stopped Duane Bobickin 1972 after losing to him in 1971. He won the Val Barker Trophy in 1972. In 1976 he KO1 John Tate, future WBA champion andin 1981 defeated Jimmy Clark 1978 twice and in 1980 once and in 1982 he lost tofuture WBO champion Francesco Damiani. In 1984 he defeated future 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Tyrell Biggs and in 1986 beat Alex Garcia. He also defeated future WBA champion Tony Tubbs, Marvin Stinson and Phillip Brown. Stevenson was awarded the Merited Master of Sport of the USSR in 1972, 1976 and 1980. He is the only boxer to have received this. He died in June of 2012 at age 60 from heart failure.
FELIX SAVON was 6:00 and in 1992, 96 and 2000 won Olympic Gold Medals as a heavyweight. In Pan Am Games in 1987, 1991 and 1995he won Gold Medals. He won4 Central American& Caribbean Games and 4 World Cups. He was 362-21 with all losses avenged. He defeated RuslanChagaev twice. He KO’d DaVarryl Williamson. In 2000 Olympics he defeated Michael Bennett and retired at age 33. He won 6 world championships and aSilver Medal. He defeated Danell Nicholson and David Izon in 1992 Olympics. In 1996 he defeated Georgi Kandelak, Luan Krasniqi and David Defiagbon. In 2000 he defeated Michael Bennett, Sebastian Kober and Sultan Ibragimov. He defeated in Pan Am Games Michael Bentt, Shannon Briggs and Lamon Brewster. He is 67.
ALEXIS RUBALCABA was 6:08 and in 1999 he wonthe Pan Am Gold Medal. He representedCuba in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics at Super heavyweight. In 1997 World Games he won a Silver Medal. He is 44.
JORGE LUIS GONZALEZ at 6:07 was 31-8 as a professional. In 1983 won Pam Am Gold. He defeated Tyrell Bigss. In 1987 he won Pan Am Gold defeating Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis. In 1987 North American Championships he lost to Lewis.
ROBERT BALADO was 6:00 and was the 1992 Olympics super heavyweight Gold Medalist defeating Larry Donald and Brian Nielsen. He was World Championship Gold Medalist in 1989, 1991 and 1993. He was Pan Am Games Gold Medalist in 1991. He died in 1994 at age 25 in car accident.
JULIO CARLOS “BLACK PANTHER” GOMEZ was 6:03 1/2 and was the WBC cruiserweight champion and finishing at 55-4-1nc (39). He had 10 successful title defenses and moved up to heavyweight fighting twice with former heavyweight champion Oliver McCall winning the first which got reversed to NC but winning the second. He lost to VitaliKlitschko for the WBC heavyweight title and moved back to cruiser. He was 158-12 as an amateur and moved to Germany as a professional. He reversed 2 of his losses as a professional.
MIKE “THE REBEL” PEREZ at 6:01 won the World Junior championship in 2004. In 2007 he defeated Louis Ortiz in the Cuban National championships but lost to Osmay Acosta in the final. In 2007 he defected to Cork, IRE. He was 21-2-1 (13) as a professional finishing up in 2015 losing to Alexander Povetkin for the WBC Silver title at age 30.
ODLANIER SOLIS FONTEat 6:01 ½ was 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist defeating Sultan Ibragimov and David Haye. He won 3 consecutive World Championships in 2001, 03 and 05. In 1999 he defeated Felix Savon for the Cuban title and took 2 of 3 from him. He won the 1999 and 2003 Pan Am Games Gold Medals. His amateur record was 227-14. He is 22-3 (14) as a professional losing to WBC champion VitaliKlitschko in 2011. He won the WBC International, IBF Inter-Continental and the WBA Fedelatin titles. He is 36 and lives in North Miami, FL.
YANQUI DIAZ at 6:04 in 2002 came to Mexico and then Las Vegas, NV, and won 13 of his first 14 fights stopping Juan Carlos Gomez and defeating Vaughn Bean while losing to Tony Thompson. Then in 2005 and 2006 losses to Samuel Peter and Kirk Johnson followed by a pair of nc’s before losing to Damian Wills and Oliver McCall retiring at 30 the end of 2006 with a 13-5 (8) record.
ERISLANDY SAVON the nephew of Felix Salon in 2016 was Olympian Bronze Medalist. He won the Pan Am Games in 2015 and a Silver in the World championships. He won the World Junior championships in 2008. At the National Championships he lost in semi-final by DQ to Osmay Acosta. He is 26.
OSMAY ACOSTA DUARTE won the 2007 Pan Am Games Gold Medal and was the 2008 Olympic heavyweight Bronze Medalist. In 2009 he was the Silver Medalist in the World Amateur championships. At the 2006 National Senior championships he lost to Odlanier Solis at super heavyweight and dropped back to heavyweight winning the Central American Games. He qualified for Beijing in an Olympic qualifier defeating current WBC champion Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder. He retired in 2009 after finishing with a Silver Medal in the World Amateur championships at age 24.
LOUIS “KING KONG” ORTIZ at 6:04 was 343-19 as an amateur. In 2005 he won the PAN AM championships. In 2010 he came to Miami, FL, and won 5 minor titles as a professional in 2010 the FECARBOX, 2011 the Fedelatin, in 2012 the Inter-American, WBC and WBO Latino titles. In 2015 he won the interim WBA World title. He is currently 27-0-2 nc’s (23). He is the current No. 1 WBA, No. 2 WBC and No. 6 IBF contender at 37 turning 38 this month.
NANCIO CARRILLO represented Cuba in the 1968 Olympics losing in the first round to East German Bernd Anders.
Other Cuban heavyweight professionals: Nino Valdez, 48-18-3 (36), OmelioAgramonte, 50-21 (32), Federico Malibran, 34-22-1 (25), Antolin Fierro, 8-8 (8), Santiago Esparraguera, 46-21-4 (42), RoleauxSaguero, 25-21-1 (23), Goyito Rico, 28-12-1 (25), Young John Herrera, 42-22-3 (28) and trained Stevenson, Elieser Castillo, 30-7-2 (17), Julio Mederos, 21-19-3 (14) who was managed by Jake LaMottaand Jose Ribalta, 38-1-1 (27), 55-8 (26) as an amateur in Cuba.