Boxing’s Greatest Ever Mexican Fighters

In Mexico, boxing isn’t a sport. It’s a way of life, deeply embedded in the culture of a proud fighting nation. 

Every Mexican Independence Day and Cinco de Mayo, annual national celebrations for the country, the debate rages on over who the best Mexican fighter of all-time is.

Here are the leading names for that prestigious honour...

Julio Cesar Chavez Sr

When Mexican boxing is mentioned, the first name in the discussion is always the great Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. 

With 107 career wins and 86 knockouts, including a crazy run to 87–0 from 1980 to 1993, ‘El Gran Campeon Mexicano’ dominated his era and is widely seen as his nation’s irreplaceable number one fighter in history. 

Salvador Sanchez

A fatal car crash tragically cut short the life and career of the legendary featherweight world champion Salvador Sanchez at just 23 years of age, leaving us to ponder what more he could have achieved in the ring. 

During his brief but brilliant time at the top, ‘The Invincible Eagle’ sealed his place in the Hall of Fame with famous wins over fellow inductees Danny Lopez, Wilfredo Gomez and Azumah Nelson. 

Ruben Olivares

One of the greatest bantamweight fighters in history, Ruben Olivares possessed a devastating trademark left hook which helped him become a three-time world champion in 105 career bouts. 

Canelo Alvarez

Already considered one of Mexico’s finest fighters, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is a four-weight world champion and a modern day superstar. 

Turning professional at just 15 years old, the red-headed prodigy known as ‘Cinnamon’ at home rose from Guadalajara to become a generational star who transcended the sport. 

Carlos Zarate

One of the biggest punchers ever to step into the ring, Carlos Zarate rallied to bantamweight world title supremacy from 1976 to 1979. 

Winning 52 consecutive fights before his first career defeat to fellow great Wilfredo Gomez, Zarate was a brutal knockout artist whose most famous success came in an all-Mexican showdown against Alfonso Zamora.  

Ricardo Lopez

Arguably the most refined and masterful technical boxer in the sport’s history, Ricardo Lopez finished his professional career undefeated with 51 wins, 38 knockouts and the only blemish being a 1998 technical draw with Rosendo Alvarez (who he later beat that same year). 

‘El Finito’ is undoubtedly one of the greatest smaller weight champions in boxing history. His numbers speak for themselves, with world titles in the sport’s two lightest divisions, including 21 titles defences and zero losses. 

Erik Morales

Known as ‘El Terrible’, Erik Morales was his country’s first fighter to ever win world titles in four weight classes – reigning from super-bantamweight to light-welterweight. 

The 2018 Hall of Fame inductee overcame 15 world champions in his career, including bitter rival Marco Antonio Barrera, Junior Jones and Kevin Kelley. But his most prominent triumph came over Manny Pacquiao in 2005. 

Vicente Saldivar

Rising from one of the poorest parts of Mexico City, Vicente Saldivar became a two-time featherweight world champion between 1964 and 1970 and is regarded as one of the greatest southpaws ever. 

Marco Antonio Barrera

Embodying the true ‘Mexican style’ and spirit, Marco Antonio Barrera was a three-division world champion who rallied to impressive victories over the likes of ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed, Kevin Kelley and Johnny Tapia. 

Barrera’s hate-fuelled trilogy with Erik Morales between 2000 and 2004 is written into Mexican boxing folklore, having won the first of their three pulsating battles. 

Juan Manuel Marquez

Remembered for his incredible counter-punching and combinations, Juan Manuel Marquez is a true Mexican great with memorable wins over Orlando Salido, Marco Antonio Barrera and THAT remarkable knockout of Manny Pacquiao. 

Other Mexican greats: Alberto Arizmendi, Miguel Canto, Rodolfo Casanova, Lupe Pintor, Juan Francisco Estrada, Kid Azteca, Gilberto Roman, Juan Zurita.


Header image: DAZN Boxing/Matchroom Boxing