Whether it’s a journeyman, a trial-horse, a top contender or a world champion, practically each and every Mexican fighter you can quickly think of is one thing above all: tough. As in teak-tough, as in hard as nails. Just this past Saturday, we saw this again in graphic, not to mention incredibly entertaining fashion, as 130 pound rivals Miguel Berchelt and Miguel Roman went to war for just two-seconds short of nine of the most incredible rounds you will see inside a boxing ring this year.
Mexican pride was at stake, not just a mere world title. Match them together and something happens, something truly special comes out of each Mexican warrior; as both Miguels proved on Saturday. But what is is about Mexican fighters that makes them ALL so darn tough? I asked one of Mexico’s greats, Israel Vazquez this very question a couple of years ago when having the absolute honour of speaking with him, and “El Magnifico” chuckled before saying that, basically, he doesn’t know.
A tough and impoverished background can of course make a real man out of any boy – as in a fighting man. And there are parts of Mexico that are unimaginably hard for a child growing up. But Mexico is far from the only country with such a claim. There are some hazardous and bleak parts of America, Europe, the Philippines – in fact anywhere on the planet. Yet without a doubt Mexico stands alone when it comes to producing the toughest of the tough as far as boxing goes (the lower weights anyway; and just imagine if this great country could give us a Julio Cesar Chavez of a heavyweight!)
Turning pro at such a young age – 14 or 15 being quite common – might have a big part in it. By the time a Marco Antonio Barrera or a Canelo Alvarez is ready to fight for a title, he really is ready. Any and all fear gone, the very ring he plys his trade in being the only real home he has ever known, a young Mexican fighter is ready to take what is his, what he has worked so hard for.
No Mexican warrior wants to give an inch, not one. Lose and where does he go? Quit and, well, this is an unforgivable sin for any fighter from Mexico. The sheer output of fighters in Mexico is of course another reason there are so many tough fighters from this country that we can all celebrate, but again, even those who don’t make it to the top, the journeymen and the trial-horses, are tough.
It’s down to their tough upbringing and the mindset that all Mexican fighters have, that they must have, that makes them so rough, tough and strong. At least that’s one take on it. What’s yours? One thing is clear, whenever a Mexican climbs into the ring, nine times out of ten a great fight will be fought. This is even more so the case whenever two Mexican warriors fight one another.
This of course is the reason it is so hard coming up with a Top-10 greatest Mexican fighters list everyone can agree with. Long may these special athletes make it so hard on us!