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Who is the Greatest Puerto Rican Fighter of All Time?

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Who is the Greatest Puerto Rican Fighter of All Time? Empty Who is the Greatest Puerto Rican Fighter of All Time?

Post by 88Chris05 Wed 06 Jul 2022, 4:30 pm

The recent death of the great Carlos Ortiz got my mind thinking on this question again. Donkeys years ago on I wrote an article about Ortiz in which many posters seemed to agree with my (then) belief that he was the greatest fighter to emerge from Puerto Rico, the island which has had an enormous impact on the history of the sport and produced some truly outstanding champions.

But as we know, times change and so do opinions along with them, so worth posing the question again. There have been plenty of great fighters from Puerto Rico, but as far as I see it there are four genuine and viable contenders for the title of being the island's very greatest: Wilfred Benitez, Wilfredo Gomez, the aforementioned Ortiz and Felix Trinidad. On names and record it'll be going some to outdo Ortiz, but I know there are Puerto Rican fans who would passionately argue the case for any of these other three.

Can any of the names who came after Ortiz's 1960s pomp lay claim to having surpassed him? If so, who? How would you rank the four of them? Who was your favourite, who was better than who, what are their pros and cons etc.? Would also be interested to know if you think my top four is the correct one, or is there any other Puerto Rican star who can take a place at this top table?

Cheers.
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Post by Jeff Navarro Wed 06 Jul 2022, 4:33 pm

Miguel Cotto surely worth a mention? IIRC he’s the only Puerto Rican to win titles in 4 divisions

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Post by Soul Requiem Wed 06 Jul 2022, 4:53 pm

Cotto is a long way behind those mentioned for me.

I'd have to go for Benitez as the greatest pure boxer that Puerto Rico has produced, he lost both fights but he more than held his own against both Leonard and Hearns at their best weights. Add in beating Duran, Palomino, Cervantes and a green Carlos Santos and you've got a pretty rock solid claim. Trinidad was for me outclassed by both Oscar and BHop which leaves him propping up the quartet but not by a lot.

1. Benitez
2. Ortiz
3. Gomez
4. Trinidad
5. Cotto
6. Camacho

I'd also add in that i'd expect both Benitez and Trinidad to beat Cotto, the latter I could envisage blasting him out in the first few rounds, the lack of defence combined with Tito liking a fast start spells a quick finish.

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Post by 88Chris05 Wed 06 Jul 2022, 4:54 pm

Cotto would probably be my #5, Jeff. Just a shade ahead of Camacho.

Cotto was obviously a superb fighter with a very good record, and plenty of longevity, but I think he just falls short of the four guys I've mentioned. They've all got either absolute dominance and mastery of a division, defining performances against other great fighters and that additional aura of greatness around them which Cotto didn't quite have in my opinion. But he would definitely be in the next bracket for me.
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Post by TRUSSMAN66 Wed 06 Jul 2022, 6:39 pm

Ortiz reign at 135 was full of non title fights although his 6 years in charge was hugely impressive..Trinidad had a great career.

But for me it's Wilfred Benitez...Zarate at 17.....Palomino later at lightweight .and a soon to beat Moore..Take Hagler to the limit, Duran at 154..Three titles at different weights.

Hope was a respected Southpaw too..Bruce Curry went on to become Champion too.

Always felt it should have been the Fab 5...

Sorry his final years were so painful...But what a wonderful fighter...Only the very greatest beat him in his prime..

Wilfredo Gomez looked unbeatable at 122...Brilliant reign and destruction of Lupe...Top 4 for sure..

But Benitez for me...Trinidad 2nd.

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Post by 88Chris05 Thu 07 Jul 2022, 7:14 pm

@Soul, I hear you about the Trinidad-De La Hoya fight to some extent, but honestly my sympathy for De La Hoya shrinks every time I watch it back. Trinidad looked awful for most of the fight, but De La Hoya didn't look much better for spells of it.

So I struggle deciding on how much credit Tito deserves for that one, admittedly. On paper an awesome result, but it's a fight he basically won by default (even if you agree with the verdict, which I know many don't). Not his fault that De La Hoya didn't want to fight down the stretch but I'm struggling to think of any other super fight which was won with such an underwhelming performance.

Similar to Gomez beating Lockridge, I guess, albeit that one was a better fight. But Gomez won it because Lockridge basically stopped working after ten rounds. Before that point it had looked like Lockridge was not only bound to win, but bound to get Gomez out of there inside-schedule. He did at least have the excuse of the San Juan heat and humidity, but again it's one of those wins for Gomez which looks much better on paper than it does on film.

It's funny, back in the day I'd never have dreamed of having Trinidad above Gomez, but these days I don't think it's out of the question. Gomez was awesome at 122 but got exposed (in relative terms - I appreciate he was mixing it with some cracking competition) as a bit of a flat track bully once he ventured north of Super-Bantam for me. Apart from Laporte he never looked very impressive at all above his favoured weight. If his reign at Super-Bantam is better than Trinidad's at Welter, then his next two world titles at higher weights certainly weren't.
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Post by TRUSSMAN66 Fri 08 Jul 2022, 6:33 pm

Gomez v Lockridge was the robbery of the year in 1986....10 rounds to 5...Let's not blame Rocky..

Gomez lost his next fight to trialhorse Layne who was 27-9 if memory serves correct..

Poor old Rocky he didn't have much luck..

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Post by 88Chris05 Fri 08 Jul 2022, 9:51 pm

Gomez-Lockridge ended up close for me, Truss, although Lockridge obviously won his rounds more clearly. I don't argue with anyone who had Lockridge winning, but I don't think it was a highway job really given how many late rounds he gave up.

To me it was a similar kind of deal to Froch-Dirrell. Watching it back, you kind of feel that the loser was better in a lot of ways, and should have won it...But just gave it away somewhat and left the door ajar for their opponent and the judges.

Lockridge is considered a bit of a Harry Hardluck case, but as I said I don't think the Gomez fight was any kind of travesty, and I thought he lost the first Pedroza fight as well, which is another one people scream robbery about. Never seen the Pedroza rematch and it's been years since I watched the Chavez fight, mind you, so maybe should take a look or refresher on them sometime.

But yeah, I guess you could argue that with a couple of different judges here or there, Lockridge might have ended up with decision wins against Pedroza, Gomez and maybe a draw or something against Chavez, and we'd possibly be calling him one of the greats of his era rather than just a good fighter.
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Post by TRUSSMAN66 Fri 08 Jul 2022, 10:15 pm

Making a case Gomez wins all the close rounds doesn't really make a compelling argument.

One could give Wilder the closer rounds against Fury and argue for a draw...

It was the Ko magazine robbery of the year...The next day Lockridge was on the beach while Gomez was in hospital..

I respect we don't always see fights the same and I respect your opinion greatly...But the Heavy lifting involved in making a case for Gomez winning that is too much for me and the consensus...

Great thread and Gomez was a great fighter shame he got nailed early against Sal...Could have been a classic..What a matchup the irresistible force vs the immovable Mexican.

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Post by 88Chris05 Fri 08 Jul 2022, 11:41 pm

I get what you're saying, Truss, but if one guy wins a round clearly but without it being a shellacking or knocking the other guy down, and then the other guy just about edges a scrappy and close one straight after, they both still only get a 10-9 in their favour and end up on equal points, even if the first guy has done the better work overall. Can't really get round the scoring system in that kind of scenario, rare though it is after more than a handful of rounds.

Anyway, I appreciate I'll be in the minority on that one and you've argued a good case. Let's not split hairs - I think Lockridge won it, but it ended up close on my card largely through his own doing. Dubious category rather than the disgraceful one for me, unpopular opinion though it might be!

As for Gomez-Sanchez possibly looking very different had Gomez not got caught cold early on...I honestly don't know, but looking at how Sanchez took apart fighters who brought it to him so brilliantly, and taking into account how Gomez never seemed the same at 126 / 130 as he did at Super-Bantam, I just can't see a scenario where Gomez ends up winning that one, even if he'd navigated the first two or three rounds a little better. Sanchez just too big, too talented, too sharp and too durable for Gomez's tactics to work in my opinion.

It's interesting that nobody has really talked about Ortiz here. On record he almost certainly is the best or greatest that Puerto Rico has produced, but as I and others have said before, he's a fighter whose greatness isn't really apparent when you watch him. Benitez had his remarkable knack for sensing punches and his fluidity; Gomez had his power, tenacity and sheer savagery (and outright dirtiness); and Trinidad had that devastating left hook, leaky defence but big heart which meant he was seldom in a bad fight.

Ortiz, on the other hand, didn't have any stand out traits or qualities which grab your attention or endeared him to the fans in the same way. He was quite workmanlike to watch at times, more a solid all-rounder with great application and consistency...But just look at the record.
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