Zarate and Zamora: The Killer “Z’s”

boxing By Ted Sares, photo courtesy of BoxRec - It is somewhat of a shame when the question comes up , who was the greatest fighter to come out of Mexico? The answer is usually Julio Cesar Chavez. Some say Salvador Sanchez, while others may say Ruben Olivares. These three are truly legendary fighters, although to me, one other outstanding boxer from Mexico is Carlos Zarate.. --Jim Amato

The stage was set at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. The date was April 23, 1977 and the intensity and excitement was palpable. And to add to the drama, bad blood existed between the managers of the two fighters.

Here it was on this hot night in California; two undefeated Mexican bombers extraordinaire and two world champions. One of the combatants was Carlos “Caña” Zarate who was 46-0 at the time with an astounding 45 KO victories.. His opponent and slight favorite coming in was Alfonso Zamora who would enter the heavily anticipated showdown with a 28-0 record and 28 consecutive knockouts. Yes, that’s an amazing combined ring record of 74 wins and no losses and with 73 wins coming by knockout. These were two guys who could send their opponents into zzzzzzzz at any time in a fight.

Zamora had chilled such notables as Soo-Hwan Hong (in Seoul no less), Eusebio Pedroza (for the WBA Ordinary World bantamweight title in 1976), Thanomchit Sukhothai, and Francisco Villegas. “Caña” had knocked out the likes of fellow Tepito native Rodolfo Martinez (for the WBC bantamweight title), Panamanian Orlando Amores, Argentinean Benicio Segundo Sosa aka Kid Gallito, James “El Tigre” Martinez, Australian Paul Ferreri, and rugged Columbian Nestor Carlos “Baba” Jimenez. Indeed, he was somewhat of an equal opportunity chiller. Only limited Mexican Victor Ramirez had taken him the distance and this was back in 1974.

The Fight

After the opening bell, both fighters engaged in dangerous exchanges during the first two rounds giving young referee Richard Steele little to do but watch the kamikaze-type action. Early in the first round, a half-dressed religious zealot interrupted the action before police could remove the strange creature from the ring

In the third canto, Zarate picked up the pace and imposed himself on Zamora as he launched a number of crushing left hooks before he decked Alfonso toward the end of the round with a short but lethal right. In the third, Zarate stalked, stunned and then swarmed his shorter foe and ended matters as he decked Zamora twice in route to a brutal “white towel stoppage.” The first knockdown was the result of a patented Zarate right hand. Still, Alfonso was game hoping to catch Zarate with one of his own counter lefts. The end came when the two engaged in a furious all-out exchange in the far corner. “Caña” caught Zamora with a savage four punch combination (right, left, right, left) that put his foe down and into dreamland as his manager (and father) threw in the towel which landed on top of his prone son.

The badly crushed Zamora would never be the same going 4-4 in his last eight tiffs. However, showing that he still had awesome power, he iced tough Alberto “Superfly” Sandoval in 1978. He finished his fine career with a commendable mark of 33-5 and an extremely impressive KO percentage of 84.21

Carlos Zarate (1970-1988)

This great boxer/puncher’s career was distinguished in many ways including being the only fighter to put together two streaks of 20 or more KOs wins in a row. The Tepito-born bomber is also on Ring Magazine’s list of 100 greatest punchers as number 21.

With an astounding mark of 66 (KO 63)-4 (KO2) and an eye popping KO percentage of 90, the tall and lean “Caña” was 50-0 when he lost his first fight to the great Wilfredo Gomez (21-0-1 at the time). However, Carlos had to make four trips to the scales before making the weight limit. Zarate would then to another bomber, Lupe Pintor, by SD in 1979, even though Pintor was dominated by Zarate and knocked down in the 4th round. The widely diverging scores were 142-143, 142-143, and 145-133. Many have called this the worst decision ever seen in boxing.

Daniel Zaragoza (1908-1997)

Totally disgusted and emotionally devastated by the decision, he retired for seven years but came back in 1986 and won twelve straight before losing a TD to Jeff Fenech in Australia. This set up his last fight, another battle of Killer “Z”s, and this time with Daniel Zaragoza (35-4) with the vacant WBC super bantamweight title at stake. Carlos, well beyond his peak, was stopped in the tenth and never fought again, officially retiring from the ring in 1988. It’s noteworthy that his three of his four losses came at the hands of future Hall of Fame inductees. Zaragoza would fight on and retired at the age of 39 with a record of 55-8-3.

Zarate was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994 and the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996.

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Article posted on 08.04.2009

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