It really is a crying shame that legendary middleweight Carlos Monzon was as much a terror outside of the ring as he was inside it. In fact, he was more so. For, if Monzon – one of the greatest 160 pounders to ever grace the ring, and don’t you ever forget it – hadn’t committed the atrocious acts he did commit during his retirement years, when he cold-bloodedly murdered his wife by strangulation and by then throwing her off a balcony, he would be a genuine hero to this day.
Nobody was able to put a dent in Monzon the boxer, but his disgraceful actions out of the squared circle saw him take one enormous tumble from grace. A veritable God in Argentina before the 1988 murder of his third wife, Alicia Muniz, “Escopeta” is sadly best remembered today for the deadly hands he used in disgustingly illegal fashion. Monzon would spend the remainder of his days behind bars, his own end coming via a car crash that occurred as he was, ironically, on his way back to jail after being given a brief furlough.
But as a prizefighter, as a champion, as a ring legend, Monzon has few equals. It was on this day in 1970, when hefty underdog Monzon, already a battle-hardened 67-3-9, this at age 28, met Italian idol, reigning middleweight champion Nino Benvenuti, who was an astonishing 82-4-1 at age 32. Nobody in Italy had even heard of Monzon, and no-one outside of Argentina was willing to give the challenger a chance of taking the crown.
But Monzon, his eyes perhaps smouldering deeper and darker than those belonging to any fighter in the sport’s history this side of Roberto Duran, was badly underestimated. Monzon was full of fire, fuel, power, hate/love, and desire. In short, the accomplished Benvenuti didn’t have a clue who, or what, he had been matched with.
To the absolute shock of all or Rome, Monzon ripped (see tore) into the defending, playboy champ, from the opening bell, and he never once came close to letting up. With his long arms, his bone-shattering power, and his very real disgust over even the idea of himself ever losing to another man, Monzon became Benvenuti’s worst enemy. The defending champ, a former ruler at 154 and a two-time middleweight boss, was soon made to look towards the referee, in need of either assistance or a clue as to just what he had been dragged into. It was a dog fight, and Monzon was the Pitbull to Benvenuti’s Greyhound. Only there was nowhere to run.
Monzon was winning all the rounds and then, in the 12th, this former Argentine street urchin scored the most devastating KO of the year (barring, perhaps, some of the lethal work punched in by light heavyweight Bob Foster). A huge right hand landed clean on the tiring Benvenuti’s head, this sending the soon to be former champ down with his head spinning (literally). Somehow, Benvenuti got up, but he was done, and the fight was over.
All of Italy had been shocked as well as silenced.
Monzon, still some months from his prime, looked set for a long reign. His was indeed a reign of terror – with no less than 14 title retentions. Before Monzon, when he was years into his retirement, when he was safe in the knowledge that no man had ever been able to take his crown, would go on to act appallingly.
Monzon’s legend would be completely redefined.
Yet we ask the question today, a tough one to ask – could anyone have beaten the peak Carlos Monzon?