Sadly, throughout boxing history, a number of great or near-great fighters were lost due to car crashes or motorbike crashes. We lost Diego Corrales that way, as we lost Julio Cesar Gonzalez, and the legendary Carlos Monzon; while Roberto Duran was lucky to have survived a nasty road accident, as was Bobby Czyz. And the morbid list goes on.
But the man who lost his life due to a car smash 36 years ago yesterday, Salvador Sanchez, is perhaps the great fighter fans think about when they wonder, ‘what if?’ How great could Sanchez have become had he not passed away at the young age of just 23 back in 1982? The Mexican warrior seemed to have it all and he had not yet reached his absolute peak or prime.
Sanchez’ last fight was a terrific one, with he and the then unknown Azumah Nelson going back and forth for almost fifteen full rounds; Sanchez finally halting Nelson in the fading seconds of the final round. Amongst the other top names Sanchez defeated are: Danny Lopez, Ruben Castillo, Juan Laporte, Wilfredo Gomez and Pat Cowdell.
Had he lived, maybe Sanchez would indeed have gone on to be recognised by most as THE finest fighter to have ever come out of the great fighting country of Mexico. That said, where does Sanchez rank today?
Here are my picks for the five best-ever from Mexico.
In reverse order:
5. Marco Antonio Barrera. World titles held at super-bantamweight, featherweight, super-featherweight. Record: 63-5(42) Notable fighters defeated: Kennedy McKinney, Erik Morales, Naseem Hamed, Johnny Tapia, Kevin Kelley, Paulie Ayala.
4. SALVADOR SANCHEZ. World title held at featherweight. Record: 44-1-1(32) Notable fighters defeated: Danny Lopez, Ruben Castillo, Juan LaPorte, Wilfredo Gomez, Azumah Nelson. (to repeat, but for his untimely death aged just twenty-three, Sanchez may well have gone on to become Mexico’s greatest ever fighter)
3. Ricardo Lopez. World titles held at minimum-weight, light-flyweight. Record: 51-0-1(38) Notable fighters defeated: Rocky Lin, Saman Sorjaturong, Manny Melchor, Rosando Alvarez, Will Grigsby, Ratanopol Sor Vorapin.
2. Erik Morales. World titles held at super-bantamweight, featherweight, super-featherweight, light-welterweight. Record: 52-8(36) Notable fighters defeated: Daniel Zaragoza, Junior Jones, Wayne McCullough, Marco Antonio Barrera, Kevin Kelley, In-Jin Chi, Paulie Ayala, Jesus Chavez, Carlos Hernandez, Manny Pacquiao.
1. Julio Cesar Chavez. World titles held at super-featherweight, lightweight, junior-welterweight. Record: 107-6-2(86) Notable fighters defeated: Mario Martinez, Ruben Castillo, Roger Mayweather, Rocky Lockridge, Juan LaPorte, Edwin Rosario, Jose Luis Ramirez, Meldrick Taylor, Hector Camacho, Frankie Randall, Tony Lopez.
Honourable mention: Ruben Olivares, Miguel Canto, Carlos Zarate, Vicente Salvador, Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya.