Transition Time in Puerto Rico

felix trinidadBy Ted Sares - Puerto Rico has produced a most compelling tapestry of sports in general and boxing in particular. --The Author

Felix “Tito” Trinidad (1990-2008) -- “Tito” is the last of his generation. There is little doubt that this three time champion will become a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. This great KO artist now looks to be retired with a fine slate of 42-3. Before losing to Bernard Hopkins in 2001, he was 40-0. He also made fifteen successful defenses of his welterweight title. With a suspect chin and bricks in his glove, he brought great excitement into the square circle, and in that regard, he was not unlike another great bomber, Edwin “El Chapo“Rosario..

Hector “Macho” Camacho (1980-present)

After running into trouble with the law, Camacho is now towing the line. He even won a TKO over Perry Ballard in July 2008 for something called the World Boxing Empire’s middleweight title. But far more significantly, he also won titles in the Super Featherweight, Lightweight, and Featherweight divisions!

With an old school mark of (79-5-2), he likely will (and should) be inducted into the Hall when his time comes, particularly when one considers he fought the likes of Greg Haugen, Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya, Roberto Duran, Tito Trinidad, Vinny Pazienza, Ray Mancini, Edwin Rosario, Jose Louis Ramirez, Rafael Limon, and many other mean hombres.

Orlando Fernandez, Sammy Fuentes, Eric Morel, Jake Rodriguez, and Felix Camacho are now only memories. Still, each was a world champion. And so were the very capable Sammy Serrano and Julian Solis. Victor Callejas was one tough hombre as was Juan Nazario who once TKOd Edwin Rosario after having been stopped by the same Rosario in an earlier duke.

“Cagüitas,” “Cheito,” “Jaws,” “Cholo,” "Joe King,” “Tonito,” “Monon,” “Sugar” called it a day some time ago. So did Laporte, John John, both Wilfredo‘s, Wilfred, "El Chapo,” “Salsero,” “Vita,” "Chegui," Carlos, and, of course, the legendary “El Gallito” Many are in the Hall.

The Present

Daniel “El Pillin” Santos (1996-present)

A great amateur, Santos won his third professional championship in July 2008 by knocking out Joacchim Alcine to win the WBA Light middleweight belt. Interestingly, he holds a TD win over rugged Antonio Margarito, a fight in which Tony received a bad cut forcing a halt to the action in the 10 stanza. His current record stands at 32-3-1 and he remains very much a factor in the light middleweight slot.

Rugged Louis Collazo still fights, but Lou "Honey Boy" Del Valle last fought in July 2008, and appears near the end.

The Transition: Going Forward

Miguel “Junito” Cotto (2001-present)

“Junito” is another in a long line of Puerto Rican warriors who has stormed upon the scene. He participated in one of the great fights of 2008 when he lost to Tony Margarito with his WBA welterweight title at stake. “Junito” was 32-0 at the time and is now set to regain his status as one of the very best pound for pound fighters. Time will tell, as a recent win over outmatched but game Daniel Jennings was little more than a confidence builder

Ivan Calderon (2001-present)

Calderon, otherwise known as “El Niño De Hierro,” is currently at 32-0 and won the WBO minimumweight title in 2003. After defending it eleven times, he took the WBO light flyweight title in 2007 and has successfully defended that crown three times. He could well be another three-time champion.

Roman “Rocky” Martinez (2001-present)

Coming off a recent stoppage win over Nicky Cook in the U.K, Rocky is now 22-0-1 and is now the WBO super featherweight title holder. Like many others before him, he is most dangerous when he is hurt. His level of opposition also has been admirable.

Alex de Jesus (2005-present)

“El Pollo,” a native of San Juan, is currently undefeated at 19-0 and holds the WBO Latino light welterweight title and several other regional belts. He became the first Puerto Rican to win an Olympic medal since Daniel Santos won a bronze in 1996. He defeated Brazilain Myke Carvallo to win his medal at the 2004 games in Athens, but lost in the next round.

Juan Manuel "Juanma" López (2005-present)

"Juanma" is the latest Puerto Rican super sensation having exploded upon the scene with a 24-0 record and a remarkable KO percentage of 91.67. He served notice by icing Giovanni Andrade in one round in 2007 to win the WBO Latino super bantamweight title. In June 2008, he knocked out rugged Daniel Ponce de Leon in the first round by moving in between Ponce wide punches and taking him out with short and crisp shots the power of which were generated by super hand speed.. He the did the same with Cesar Figueroa, but this time it only took him 47 seconds to close the show. Two months later, he met Sergio “Rocky” Medina and ended this fight in 1.38 of the first stanza by rocking “Rocky.” In Juanma’s last 5 outings, he has gone only 8 rounds--which begs the question, is he that good or are his opponents that bad? We will soon find out as he is scheduled to fight the great Filipino warrior Gerry Penalosa on April 25, 2009 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

Many think “Tito” has passed the baton to "Juanma." I think so as well.

The list goes on and on

Nelson Dieppa, Kermit “El Asesino” Cintron and Carlos “El Indio” Quintana are still factors. So are Mario “Principe Ponce” Santiago(19-1-1), Manny Siaca, Cesar Ceda (16-0), undefeated Victor Fonseca (who won the vacant International Boxing Association bantamweight title in 2008), Orlando Cruz (16-0-1), Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr (15-0),and Henry “El Nitro” Bruseles who has won six in a row since losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2005.

Edgar “El Chamaco” Santana (24-3) shows promise but needs to get his personal life in order. Carlos Ivan Velasquez (9-0) has potential as well. At the 2006 Central American and Caribbean Games, he defeated Marlon Almagro of Venezuela. He the pulled off a monster upset pf highly touted Olympic champion Yuriorkis Gamboa in the semi-finals and then won Gold against Dominican Ronald de la Rosa.

Fres “Fast Fres" Oquendo, a great all-around amateur athlete from Chicago via Puerto Rico, has come this close to reaching the top tier, but each time has been thwarted--whether by highly questionable decisions (against Toney and Holyfield), or late round collapses (Ruiz and Tua). Still, he remains a viable heavyweight.

Heavy handed Jose Miguel Cotto is at 28-1-1, but has been inactive since 2007 (His last tiff was in May 2007 when he and Prawat Singwangcha fought to a twelve round draw in a bout for the vacant WBA lightweight title). As well, Alex Trujillo has not fought since 2007. There are still others, but the real story here is that Puerto Rico has produced more great fighters than space allows.

There are others, but the real story here is that Puerto Rico continues to produce World champions like they were the Island Nation’s top resource.

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Article posted on 17.03.2009

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