Mexican legend and former long-reigning welterweight champion Pipino Cuevas today celebrates his 64th birthday. Regularly posting stuff on FaceBook, the man who ruled the world from July of 1976 to August of 1980 has some amazing career to look back on. Cuevas was a feared puncher; an assassin who made a habit of breaking bones. Whether it was the jaw of his opponent or his ribs that he busted, Cuevas left a trail of carnage behind him during his reign as WBA welterweight king.
Going pro in November of 1971, when aged just 14 (yes, just 14!) Cuevas was stopped in a couple of rounds in Mexico City by Alfredo Castro and he would win just seven of his first 12 fights. But Cuevas shocked Angel Espada to win the WBA crown in July of 1976, the second round TKO win seeing Pipino make history as the youngest welterweight champion ever. He was just 18 years old.
No less than 11 title retentions followed, with Cuevas destroying good men like Billy Backus, Pete Ranzany, Harold Weston and Harold Volbrecht. Cuevas also defeated Espada a second and a third time during his reign, and he won a 15 round decision over the tough Randy Shields (Shields being the only man to take Cuevas the 15 round limit in his entire career).
Cuevas had carved out a reputation as a vicious banger, yet he met an even bigger, even more lethal puncher in August of 1980. Enter Thomas Hearns. For the first time in his career, Cuevas looked intimidated, scared even. Hearns, with his terrifying dimensions – his crazy reach and height being freak-like for the weight – was way too much for Cuevas. Hearns smashed Cuevas to quick, second round defeat.
Cuevas had one more big fight, this a 1983 stoppage defeat to Roberto Duran. Cuevas fought on, finally retiring in 1989, this after a KO loss to Lupe Aquino. Cuevas eventually walked away with a 35-15(31) record; accomplished over the course of 18 years in the ring.
Cuevas may be best remembered for the losses he suffered to all-time greats Hearns and Duran, but he was great himself. Cuevas was certainly a great puncher. In fact he was truly devastating.