Boxing enjoys immense popularity in South America, and the region has produced some notable fighters who have made significant contributions to international boxing. They have not only earned their place among the best Hispanic athletes in the world but have also played a key role in reshaping the sport globally, with a particular impact in Latin America. Their bouts have become signature events for boxing fans, attracting millions of viewers who tune in no matter when the fights are scheduled. Continue reading to discover more about three of South America’s best boxers in the history of the sport.
There are few more popular Hispanic athletes on the planet in this modern era than Canelo Alvarez. The 33-year-old is regarded by many as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers of all time, and he has been rated as the best active boxer by BoxRec since 2022. The Mexican is renowned for his counter-punching ability, and his skill of being able to exploit openings through his opponents’ guard. Alvarez is a four-weight world champion, having landed titles across the light middleweight and light heavyweight divisions.
Canelo has won 59 of his 63 professional fights, with one of his few losses coming against Floyd Mayweather at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, fight capital of the world. He remains one of the hottest properties in boxing to this day, having won the WBO super middleweight title against Billy Joe Saunders in May 2021, before unifying the division against Caleb Planet later in the same year. Canelo has successfully defended his super middleweight titles on two occasions in the last 12 months, beating both Gennady Golovkin and John Ryder by unanimous decision.
Julio Cesar Chavez
Julio Cesar Chavez was one of the most dominant Mexican boxers throughout his career, as he was a multiple-time world champion in three weight classifications between 1980 and 2005. Chavez was also regarded as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world between 1990 and 1993 and won the WBC super featherweight, WBA and WBA lightweight, and IBF light welterweight titles during his career.
The Mexican holds the record for most successful world title defences in history, as well as the most title fight victories, and opponents beaten for the world title. Chavez is also second in the record books for the most knockout victories in title defences. His professional record was staggering prior to his defeat against Frankie Randall in 1994, as he had won 89 of his 90 professional bouts. His title defence against Greg Haugen at the Azteca Stadium also set the record for the biggest attendance for a boxing match, with over 136,000 fans in attendance for the bout. Not only was Chavez among the boxing greats, but he also helped transcend the spot across Mexico for over two decades.
Panama’s Roberto Duran is regarded as one of the best punchers in boxing history, as he was revered for his formidable punching power and excellent defence. The boxer was a world champion in four different weight classifications, as he won the top prizes across the lightweight, welterweight, light middleweight, and middleweight divisions. Furthermore, he was also the lineal lightweight and welterweight champion during his career.
Duran is also one of few boxers to have competed in professional bouts across five different decades, and he was only the second to achieve this feat following Jack Johnson. One of the factors that made him so difficult to beat was the fact that he was versatile in the ring, as he could be aggressive on the front foot, while also having the ability to be a pressure fighter. Duran is considered among many to be the world’s greatest lightweight, but he was forced to retire from boxing in January 2002 after a car crash.
He had previously retired on three separate occasions in 1980, 1984, and 1998 only to have a change of heart and return to the ring. Overall, he retired from professional boxing having competed in 119 bouts. Of those, he won 103 times, with 70 coming by knockout. His final fight ended with a unanimous decision defeat against Hector Camacho in July 2001, which saw him lose the NBA super middleweight title.
The history of boxing is rich with legendary Hispanic fighters, and the future promises to bring forth more shining stars looking to match or even surpass the achievements of their renowned predecessors. With the sport’s ever-increasing popularity in Spanish-speaking countries worldwide, it’s not a matter of if, but when the next Hispanic world champion will emerge. The legacy of past champions ensures a thriving future for Hispanic boxing talent.