Alexis Arguello: "El Flaco Explosivo"

28.05.04 - By Edgar Guevara: Alexis Arguello (born April 19, 1952) was one of the first few fighters to win a titles in three weight divisions, and the first Nicaraguan to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Alexis Arguello came from a background of deep poverty as well as political problems in his home country. At 5-10, he was extremely tall for a featherweight. His height and reach provided him the kind of leverage that resulted in his awesome punching power. Besides his three championships, Arguello was a skillful boxer with a repertoire of powerhouse punches, although he wasn’t a typical knockout artist. He would wait patiently for an opening and then strike with destructive accuracy. Of his 88 fights, an amazing 64 of them ended in knockout victories.

As a child, Arguello was a street fighter, and learned how to box from a family member in Managua. This gave him the opportunity to escape from the life of poverty he lived in Nicaragua. After leaving school at the age of 14 to train exclusively in boxing, Arguello turned pro at the age of 16 in 1968. While fighting mostly in Nicaragua, Arguello defeated one opponent after another, and he began to get noticed by 1974 when he traveled to Panama to fight another great fighter, Ernesto Marcel for the WBA featherweight title belt. Marcel won by a close decision in 15 rounds, but soon after, Marcel retired from the ring. Arguello fought four more fights after the Marcel bout, and then met up with the sensational Mexican power puncher Ruben Olivares in Los Angeles, CA on November 23, 1974. In a classic fight. Arguello scored a dramatic 13th-round knockout after having trailed on points.

Arguello defending his featherweight WBA title on 6 occasions in between 1974 to 1977. Finally, in 1978, Arguello relinquished his featherweight title because he could no longer make the weight. Later on that year, Arguello moved up in weight and faced Alfredo Escarlera for the WBC super featherweight title in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Escarlera had been a great champion, who had defended his title successfully 10 times before this bout. However, Arguello was able to stop Escarlera in the 13th round in one of the most brutal fights in history. Escalera had his eye, mouth and nose busted early, but was rallying back in the scorecards when Arguello finished him in the thirteenth round. After two years, Arguello, again decided to move up, this time to challenge for the Lightweight title. In between that time, Arguello defended his WBA featherweight title 3 times.

In a rematch, Arguello again defeated Escalera at Rimini, Italy in 1979, and, once again by a 13th round knockout in another sensational action packed bout, where both fighters went at it non-stop. From 1979 to 1980, Arguello defeated well known boxers with names like the two-time world champ Bobby Chacon, two-time world champ Rafael 'Bazooka' Limon, Ruben Castillo, and Diego Alcala, who was taken apart in only one round.

Arguello then moved up in weight again in 1981, and went to London, England, to fight WBC lightweight world champion Jim Watt. In front of a hostile audience, Arguello pounded out a tough 15 round unanimous decision victory over Watt. This victory for Arguello made him only the fifth boxer to win titles in 3 world categories, the first one to do it since Henry Armstrong 41 years before, and the first Latin American to do it. Later on during that year, Arguello faced future WBA champ, Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini in one of the best bouts of the 1980s. It was a gruelling back and forth match, but Arguello's superior power prevailed in the 14th round when he knocked out Mancini with a big right hand bomb.

In 1982, Arguello, easily defeated the overmatched James 'Bubba' Busceme by a knockout in 6 rounds. Next, Arguello knocked out Andy Ganigan in 5 rounds, and future trainer Kevin Rooney in 2 rounds. At that point, Arguello decided it was time to move up again, and challenge for a 4th title belt in different categories. On November 12th, 1982, Arguello fought Aaron Pryor for the WBA junior welterweight title. At the time of the bout, Pryor was 27, and Arguello was 31, and age was beginning to show on Arguello.

Pryor started off very strong and won the first half of the fight, but Arguello came back and dominated the middle rounds and had Pryor ready to go in the 12th round after landing a series of explosive right hands. . In the 14th round, Pryor pounded Arguello at will and had him helpless against the ropes when the referee Stanley Christodoulou stopped the fight. However, after the 12th round, rumors circulated that Pryor was given an illegal substance in a water bottle that led to him coming out like a rocket for the beginning of the 13th round. Arguello was later taken to the hospital after the bout due to the beating he had sustained.

Whether Pryor's victory was enhanced an illegal substance or less than required padding for his gloves was never determined, but the controvery led to the WBA granting a rematch for Arguello, which was fought on September 10th, 1983. 10 months later, Arguello fought Pryor again in the rematch. This time, Pryor stopped Arguello in the 10th round in another exciting bout. Arguello then announced his retirement. For the next two years, Arguello drifted aimlessly. He briefly joined the Contras in his native country Nicaragua after his brother was killed in the conflict, but quit from the war after several months in the jungle.

In 1985, Arguello made comeback when he fought Pat Jefferson (KO 5) and Billy Costello (TKO 4) in 1986, but he again retired. In 1994, Arguello fought Jorge Palomares and decisioned him in 10 rounds, but retired for good after losing to club fighter, Scott Walker by 10 round decision in 1995.

Many of Arguello’s personal belongings and his bank account was later seized by the Sandinista government in the 1980’s while Arguello was living in the United States. This turned Arguello against the Sandinista government, who he had previously supported. Arguello now trains boxers in Nicaragua.

Article posted on 28.05.2004

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