Julio Cesar Chavez, Carlos Zarate, Vicente Saldivar, Ruben Olivares, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Canelo Alvarez – Salvador Sanchez. Just who deserves to be rated as THE greatest Mexican fighter of them all? Talk about a tough question. The great fighting country of Mexico sure has given us some special, unforgettable ring warriors over the years.
In terms of the majority of fans, experts, and historians, the honor does go to Julio Cesar Chavez, and who could ever question the fighting prowess, indeed greatness of J.C Superstar? Yet what might Salvador Sanchez have gone on to accomplish had he not lost his life at such a young age? It’s all speculation and nothing more, but might Sanchez have earned even more glory? Sanchez, who would have been celebrating his 64th birthday today had he not been tragically killed in a car smash at the age of just 23, was a supreme ring operator.
At the time of his untimely death, Sanchez, 44-1-1(32), was coming off a far tougher-than-expected battle with a then largely unknown Azumah Nelson; Sanchez having to dig deep to get the win, a fifteenth round stoppage victory in a fight that saw both men pull out all the stops. The future looked interesting for Sanchez. In September of 1982, the featherweight king would have fought Juan Laporte in a rematch (Sanchez having won a decision over Laporte in December of 1980).
No disrespect to the skilled Laporte, but it seems Sanchez would in all likelihood have beaten him a second time (even if, like Nelson, Laporte was somewhat lacking in experience at the time of his fight with Sanchez). But then, a truly fascinating fight was in place. Sanchez, according to reports, was looking to move up to 135 pounds and would challenge the great Alexis Arguello for the WBC lightweight crown.
How great a fight might that one have been? Sanchez was tall enough to be effective up at 135, so say plenty of experts, and with his incredible gifts – seemingly unlimited stamina, brilliant counter-punching skills, punching power (which may or may not have gone up with him) – maybe Sanchez would have beaten Arguello. But what a battle it surely would have been.
There is of course a massive sense of ‘what if’ when it comes to Sanchez. Perhaps, though, had he lived, he would have beaten both Laporte and Arguello and then retired. This might seem unlikely, but Sanchez, at the time of his final year, spoke of retiring within a year and then studying to become a doctor. So who knows, maybe Sanchez would have exited with a 46-1-1 record, with the distinction of being a two-weight world champion. And maybe this would have been enough for Sanchez?
As it is, Sanchez features in the top 3 of ANY expert’s list of the greatest, most super-special Mexican warriors who ever lived. If only Sanchez had lived a much longer life.