This Saturday a special Mexican Independence Day fight is taking place. No, Oscar De La Hoya is not fighting. Neither is Julio Caesar Chavez or his son J.C. Jr. However, the great fans of Mexico will be treated to a battle that makes the warriors of their country so exceptional. Marco Antonio Barrera, perhaps Mexico’s greatest ever fighter, will take a brave chance in giving Rocky Juarez a rematch although no-one is forcing him to do so. It is because of these brave and almost crazy risks that make Mexican fighters the unique breed they are today.
So while all of Mexico makes its final preparations for Saturday’s celebration, we as fight fans should do a little celebrating of our own in honoring some of the brave moves made by Mexican fighters in the past few years. After all,
boxing wouldn’t be what it is today if it were not for the amazing warriors of Mexico.
The Fighter: Oscar Larios
The Brave Act: Giving Wayne McCullough a rematch after their closely contested fight just five months earlier.
On February 10, 2005, Mexican Oscar Larios took on the tough but faded Wayne McCullough in what was supposed to be an easy night of work. At the time, Larios was the undisputed 122-pound champion, and talks of a big fight with Joan Guzman loomed as he entered the ring against a man who almost no-one gave a chance of winning. However, instead of a glorified sparring session, Larios got twelve rounds of pure hell, and barely held on to a decision victory disputed by many.
Now, at this point, most fighters would just take the W and move on. After all, there are only so many wars a fighter can go through, and a rematch with McCullough would almost guarantee another all out battle. But Larios, being the warrior that he is, granted McCullough the second bout just five months later, and this time delivered the Irish fighter the first KO loss of his career.
The Fighter: Carlos Bojorquez
The Brave Act: Still trying one hundred percent despite being brutally picked apart versus Ike Quartey.
Coming into the fight, no-one picked him to win. During the early rounds, he fell behind right away. And towards the end of the fight, he stood almost no chance of winning. But for the always brave and tough Carlos Bojorquez, having any chance at all is enough to keep trying, and that’s what he did against Ike Quartey.
While watching this fight, I couldn’t believe the incredible grit and valor that Bojorquez showed despite the immense punishment he took. The rights he received, the jabs he absorbed, all of it was so much, yet he kept coming forward. Never in my life have I seen a man take that much of a beating and keep coming back, and for that, Bojorquez deserves to be honored. He may be the toughest man in the sport today.
The Fighter: Juan Manuel Marquez
The Brave Act: Rising three times off the canvas in the first round and rallying to a draw against Manny Pacquiao.
After Manny Pacquiao steamrolled Marco Antonio Barrera in their November 2003 bout, the Filipino became somewhat of an urban legend. Experts were awed by his combination of speed, power and ferocity, but no-one knew just how good the twenty-five year old was. Would anyone even be willing to face him?
Enter Juan Manuel Marquez. The thirty year old had always lacked a big win and beating Pacquiao would put him in that upper echelon of fighters where he desired to be. Entering the fight in terrific shape, Marquez was confident that he would make the leap from good to great with a big win. However, the mystery of Pacquiao’s greatness still must have loomed in the back of his mind.
Every fear that Marquez had came true in the first round when he was violently floored three times. However, he was able to rise from each knockdown and was somehow able to make it out of the round. For that alone, Marquez makes this list, and we can‘t forget that he was able to rally to a draw.
What made Marquez get up? Here he was, getting mauled by countless left hands against a man some were claiming to be the world’s best, and his chances of coming back had become so minute. The bravery he showed in that first round is what Mexican fighting is all about.
The Fighter: Erik Morales
The Brave Act: Taking on the challenge of a fight with Manny Pacquiao less than four months after his war with Marco Antonio Barrera.
When Marco Antonio Barrera beat Erik Morales for the second time, Morales must have been devastated. With all of the bad blood between the two rivals, swallowing defeat again would have sent most fighters into retirement. However, Morales didn’t retire, or even take any time off for that matter. Instead, he took on the man who had just smoked Barrera, and ended up with a career best win.
Sparring 300 rounds in preparation for a sure war, Morales showed bravery beyond belief stepping into the ring with the world’s best Super Featherweight. It would have been so easy to have taken the big payday and roll over, but Morales used every ounce of his heart and soul to pull out a decision victory.
The Fighter: Humberto Soto
The Brave Act: Taking a fight with Rocky Juarez on three weeks notice and coming up with the fight of his life.
Humberto Soto was finally starting to get his career on track. After dropping five fights early in his career due to inexperience, he had reeled off fourteen straight wins and was finally making a bit of noise in the featherweight division. So when Soto got the call to fight prospect Rocky Juarez in just three weeks, a tough decision had to be made: Should he take the risk, or just continue with the momentum he had built over the past few years? The Mexican took the risk.
With hardly anyone giving him a chance to win, Soto attacked Juarez right from the get go, and kept the pressure up throughout the fight. Juarez, a huge puncher, landed some vicious power shots, but Soto went nowhere and kept on throwing punches. It was amazing how he stood and traded with a man who had starched almost all of his twenty-three opponents, but with his incredible courage, Soto pulled off the decision victory.
There are countless other brave fighters and acts, but those in particular really stick out to me. I look at these fights and I realize how special Mexican boxers really are. The bravery and guts that come out of the country are simply amazing. So to all of the gallant warriors and great fans of Mexico, have a great Saturday and enjoy the fights.