A rivalry unmatched in the archives of boxing history, one which for decades has pitted the best Mexican warriors to do battle with the best that Puerto Rico has to offer, leaving us all on more than a few occasions awe-inspired by the levels of war which were waged between the two countries.
To many, it’s seen as a rivalry which took its form the night Wilfredo Gomez who at the time was the Super Bantamweight champion dared to dethrone the unbeaten Salvador Sanchez in 1981 but there were many others before this time to lay claim to how this great series of boxing started.
Here are my personal Top five picks from history’s greatest of rivalries:
Salvador Sanchez Vs Wilfredo Gomez
The phrase “Super Fight” is thrown around all too often amongst the boxing fraternity but on the night of the 21st August 1981, the boxing world stood still to take in the best vs the best when Wilfredo Gomez moved up in division to face the Featherweight ruler Salvador Sanchez at Caesar’s Palace. Coming into the contest with a 32-0-1 record, only one had made it to the final bell, that being a draw on Wilfredo’s debut. The Puerto Rican was considered the puncher of the two men but it was the curly haired Mexican who dented the resolve with his all-action style, dropping Gomez in the fourth before the touch paper was lit on a truly remarkable spectacle which still lives on in every die-hard boxing fan. Sanchez matched the intensity that Gomez tried to employ as he wore down the Puerto Rican banger in the eighth after a barrage of shots left Gomez on the canvas again. “Standing or dead, but never on my knees” Gomez is quoted as saying before the contest, to his word he made it to his feet but was rightly waved off by the third man in charge. This kickstarted the rivalry, to this day it’s a proud tradition to get one over on the other.
Wilfredo Gomez vs Lupe Pintor
Spectators in New Orleans Superdome were presented with an early Christmas gift in the form of Gomez Vs Pintor, one that whenever the words Mexico Vs Puerto Rico are brought into conversation thoughts immediately race to the 3rd December 1982. At the time Wilfredo Gomez gave new meaning to “annihilation” ploughing through opposition as a hot knife would through butter. He had broken the record with 16 consecutive title defence knockouts whilst all of his 37 wins came by the same outcome. Pintor in the same situation as was Wilfredo Gomez in his previous contest with Salvador Sanchez was coming up in division where he held the bantamweight strap. The scene was set, anticipation followed as both men put out an encounter which encapsulated the rivalry between the two nations as both men let their hands go in a shootout which see-sawed for much of the fourteen rounds the fight lasted. Gomez was this time left as the man standing but with the look of a man who had just walked through hell to gain victory.
Jose Luis Ramirez Vs Edwin Rosario 2
Such was the controversy which surrounded the decision eighteen months prior to this fight happening, that a rematch was called for between Edwin Rosario and Jose Luis Ramirez. Rosario had been adjudged the winner of the previous meeting between the two in a great contest but the rematch bettered it in 1984 for the same title. The contest looked to be going the way of the Puerto Rican who dropped Ramirez in the first and second rounds but as the fight looked to be slipping through the clenched hands of the Mexican he responded in such fashion that it left Rosario turning his back on the oncoming Ramirez after four rounds of unrelenting action.
Antonio Margarito Vs Miguel Cotto I
The two men were on a collision course for some months before July 26th 2008 but it was a loss to Paul Williams which derailed the plans of Top Rank as his win over Margarito put the subsequent fight with Cotto on the back burner momentarily. The fight between these two modern day gladiators is one that still lingers with more questions than answers, controversy sparked after Antonio was found with loaded hand wraps in his pre-fight inspection against Shane Mosely, leading to suggestions from some that he may have used the same tactics versus Miguel Cotto. A thought process which becomes even more believable looking at the after effects of Cotto following his eleven round bludgeoning. That aside the fight was a non-stop feast for the eyes of the watching public as, like a reenactment of Roman days, they bayed for blood which came in bucket loads as Cotto went out on his shield.
Felix Trinidad Vs Fernando Vargas
After going back and forth between this or the contest which featured De La Hoya Vs Trinidad, I eventually opted for this more so for the contest than the event as a whole. It is one which still brings a smile to my face as both men from the off were unwavering in their plans of “Seek and Destroy”. Although If the first round was anything to go by you could be forgiven for thinking that this would be a very short nights work for one of PR’s best as Felix Trinidad scored two blistering knockdowns of Fernando Vargas at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. Little did we know at the time that Vargas was far from done as he surged to score a knockdown of his own in the fourth, thereafter the contest turned in to a war as a battle of wills commenced. Trinidad finally made the breakthrough as he dropped the noticeably tired Vargas three times in the contests last round as the referee Jay Nady called time on another brilliant spectacle to add to the already bursting at the seams rivalry between the two countries.
These are just five of my favourite fights between the two nations of which there are plenty more to call upon, Tweet me @topclassboxing to let me know your top five.