News coming out of Panama informs us how featherweight great and former long-reigning world champion Eusebio Pedroza is gravely ill, fighting for his life in hospital with cancer. The 65 year old is in critical condition and his family, friends and fans are all praying for him. A superb fighting machine back in the 1970s and ’80s, the man from Panama city ruled the 126 pound landscape for an impressive seven years, during which he made an astonishing 19 retentions of his title; this being a world record for the weight class.
An aggressive but clever fighter who had great reflexes and almost legendary stamina (all 15-round fights back in his day of course), Pedroza turned pro in December of 1973 and he went 17-3 in his initial 20 bouts. An unsuccessful challenge for the WBA bantamweight title came in April of 1976, when Pedroza was KO’d by Alfonso Zamora in Mexico. Pedroza was actually stopped in his very next fight, before rebounding as a featherweight and winning his next 19 fights; including winning the WBA and linear featherweight crown with a stoppage win over Cecilio Lastra in April of 1978.
It wasn’t until his No-Contest with Rudy Alpizar and his draw with Bernard Taylor, both in 1982, that Pedroza suffered any kind of a disappointment. Then, in the summer of 1985 in a fight that is still talked about by British fight fans, Pedroza was beaten by Barry McGuigan, the Irishman winning a famous 15-round decision at Loftus Road Stadium.
During his title reign, Pedroza picked up wins over excellent fighters such as: Ruben Olivares, Rocky Lockridge (twice), Juan Laporte and others. After the upset loss to McGuigan, a 30 year old Pedroza fought on, winning three and losing two. The Panamanian retired with a fine 41-6-1(25) record in 1992 – the veteran having launched a brief comeback in 1991, some six years on from the McGuigan defeat.
Pedroza was inducted in The Hall of Fame in 1999.
Fans everywhere hope this superb and proud former champion makes a full recovery.