Boricua Champions

List of Puerto Rican Boxing World Champions

PR CHAMPS

In Puerto Rico, boxing is considered a major sport, having produced more amateur and professional world champions than any other sport in its history. Puerto Rico ranks third worldwide between countries with most boxing world champions and is the only place to have champions accredited in all of the current boxing divisions. This number also places the archipelago in the global lead in terms of champions per capita. February 9, 2008 was the first time that boxers from Puerto Rico had held three of the four major welterweights titles (World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization) when Carlos Quintana defeated Paul Williams to join Miguel Cotto and Kermit Cintron as champions in the division.

Individually, Puerto Rican world champions have earned numerous achievements. These include, Wilfredo Gómez’s record for most defenses in the super bantamweight division and for most successive knockouts by a titleholder.Another notable boxer in Puerto Rico is Ramon Ramos,a boxer born in Mayaguez,Puerto Rico.Emilio Gonzalez was also a notable boxer in Puerto rico. Emilio Gonzalez and Ramon Ramos have connections within families. On September 3, 1994, Daniel Jiménez established a world record for the quickest knockout in a championship fight, defeating Harald Geier in 17 seconds. Juan Manuel López is fifth in this category, having defeated César Figueroa in 47 seconds during his first defense. Ossie Ocasio was the first World Boxing Association (WBA) cruiserweight champion, winning it on February 13, 1982. This accomplishment was mimicked in other organizations: Jose De Jesús, José Ruíz Matos, John John Molina and Héctor Camacho did it in their respective divisions in the World Boxing Organization (WBO), while Ángel Almena was the first pugilist to win the International Boxing Organization’s super flyweight title.

Boxing in Puerto Rico

Boxing was introduced and practiced in a clandestine manner in Puerto Rico while the archipelago was still a Spanish colony. Fights were organized in haciendas among the workers of the sugar and coffee plantations, and the objective was to determine the best fighter among the employees. Following the culmination of the Puerto Rican Campaign and Spanish–American War, American soldiers who were stationed in the main island practiced the sport. During World War I, a championship known as Campeonato Las Casas was held as training for military personnel. Nero Chen, the first Puerto Rican boxer to gain recognition, began his career in these tournaments. The Combat Maneuver Training Center followed this example and organized boxing activities, which they named Los Campeones del Campamento. These were received with enthusiasm by the young recruits. Most of these events were celebrated without restriction due to military jurisdictional limits, although prohibitions were put in place for the civilian population. Illegal matches were organized on the rooftops of residences in Old San Juan, empty terrain’s in El Condado and in hippodromes.

By 1924, several young men were being taught to box by Gregario Rosa, a boxer who had won the featherweight championship of the Atlantic Fleet while serving in the Navy. Rosa established “Jack Dempsey Physical Culture and Boxing Club”, a gym where he continued instructing more pugilists; however, the local police department would go in and arrest any boxer that participated in a card (organized boxing match). At times they were surprised to discover that several members of the law enforcement agencies and government were involved. In one case they discovered a group of police officers, including a colonel, two members of the governor’s cabinet, numerous legislators and a judge at an event. The charges were archived; the decision was justified with a statement that said: “How will we have a boxing world champion if we don’t let the boys learn how to box?”

In 1926, a boxing venue was opened in a military facility known as Cuartel de Ballajá; a fight card was organized weekly. Legislator Lorenzo Coballes Gandía redacted a proposal to legalize boxing, which was signed by governor Horace Mann Towner in May 1927. Consequently, the Primera Comisión Atlética de Boxeo (The First Athletic Boxing Commission) was created; this became the first organization dedicated to sanctioned boxing in Puerto Rico. Estadio Universal (Universal Stadium) became the first venue to organize legal boxing cards. The first event featured a fight between Enrique Chaffardet and Al Clemens as the main event, which was declared a draw by the judges. New stadiums were built in Bayamón, Caguas, Mayagüez, Ponce, Aguadilla and San Juan. The first Puerto Rican to win a world championship was Sixto Escobar, who won it on June 26, 1934. During the 1960s and 1970s, there was an increase in the number of pugilists who achieived this recognition. Including Wilfred Benítez who on March 6, 1976, became the youngest world champion in history at 17 years old. This tendency continued during the following two decades, reaching its peak between the 1980s and 1990s. There was a slight decline in the 1990s. Félix Trinidad was Puerto Rico’s most notable champion during this period. The 2000s brought another increase, as over a dozen boxers won world championships.

Héctor García, Dommys Delgado Berty, Francisco Varcárcel and José Peñagaricano have served as presidents of the Puerto Rico Boxing Commission. This organization gained more prominence in 1985 when it received full control as the sanctioning body in any professional fight organized in Puerto Rico. In 2000, the commission’s regulation was revised to exclude professional wrestling, which up to that point had been under its scope. This was Peñagaricano’s first proposal on taking office, since he considered professional wrestling “a spectacle instead of a sport like boxing”. During the following decades, the Puerto Rico Boxing Commission became the first governing body to have a female president when Delgado Berty served from 1986 to 1988. It became the first commission to require pre-fight weigh-ins, a measure that was at first criticized, but was later adopted by other boxing organizations. In 2007, David Bernier, then Secretary of Recreation and Sports, approved a new rule in the boxing organization’s regulation that prohibited the signing of any pugilist younger than 18 years old as a professional.

List of world champions

This compendium uses the same parameters used by the Puerto Rico Boxing Commission to classify champions. Boxers that won a world championship in either a major or minor organization are included.

W Undisputed World Championship M Major Organism m Minor Organism L Lineal World Championship I Interim World Championship

Number

Name

Date

Titles

1

Sixto Escobar

June 6, 1934

Bantamweight (W 2 & L 2)

2

Carlos Ortiz

June 12, 1959

Light welterweight (W) and lightweight (W 2 & L 2)

3

José Torres

March 30, 1965

Light heavyweight (M, M & L)

4

Ángel Espada

June 28, 1975

Welterweight (M)

5

Alfredo Escalera

July 5, 1975

Super featherweight (M)

6

Samuel Serrano

October 16, 1976

Super featherweight (M 2 & L 2)

7

Wilfred Benítez †

March 6, 1976

Light welterweight (M & L), welterweight (M & L) and light middleweight (M)

8

Esteban De Jesús

May 8, 1976

Lightweight (M)

9

Wilfredo Gómez

May 21, 1977

Super bantamweight (M & L), featherweight (M) and super featherweight (M)

10

Julian Solís

August 29, 1980

Bantamweight (M & L)

11

Carlos De León

November 25, 1980

Cruiserweight (M 4 & L 2)

12

Ossie Ocasio

February 13, 1982

Cruiserweight (M)

13

Juan Laporte

September 15, 1982

Featherweight (M)

14

Edwin Rosario

May 1, 1983

Lightweight (M & M 2) and light welterweight (M)

15

Héctor Camacho

August 7, 1983

Super featherweight (M), lightweight (M), light welterweight (M), welterweight (m), middleweight (m), light middleweight (m & m) and super middleweight (m)

16

Mark Medal †

March 11, 1984

Light middleweight (M)

17

Harry Arroyo †

April 15, 1984

Lightweight (M)

18

Victor Callejas

May 26, 1984

Super bantamweight (M)

19

Carlos Santos

November 2, 1984

Light middleweight (M)

20

Antonio Rivera

August 30, 1986

Featherweight (M)

21

Wilfredo Vázquez

October 4, 1987

Bantamweight (M), super bantamweight (M) and featherweight (M)

22

José Ruíz Matos

April 29, 1989

Super flyweight (M)

23

John John Molina

April 29, 1989

Super featherweight (M & M 2)

24

José De Jesús

May 19, 1989

Light flyweight (M)

25

Juan Nazario

April 4, 1990

Lightweight (M)

26

Orlando Fernández

May 12, 1990

Super bantamweight (M & m)

27

Santos Cardona

April 11, 1991

Welterweight (m) and light middleweight (m)

28

Danny García

February 1, 1992

Middleweight (m)

29

Rafael del Valle

May 13, 1992

Bantamweight (M)

30

Felix Camacho

May 27, 1992

Super bantamweight (m)

31

Josué Camacho

July 31, 1992

Light flyweight (M)

32

Daniel Jiménez

June 9, 1993

Bantamweight (M) and super bantamweight (M)

33

Félix Trinidad

June 19, 1993

Welterweight (M & M), light middleweight (M & M) and middleweight (M)

34

Kevin Kelley †

December 4, 1993

Featherweight (M)

35

Alex Sánchez

December 22, 1993

Minimumweight (M)

36

Jake Rodríguez

February 13, 1994

Light welterweight (M)

37

Sammy Fuentes

November 7, 1994

Light welterweight (M)

38

Ángel Almena

July 29, 1995

Super flyweight (m) and flyweight (m)

39

Israel Cardona †

August 25, 1995

Super featherweight (m) and light welterweight (m)

40

Angel Manfredy †

November 18, 1995

Super featherweight (m)

41

Frank Toledo †

June 9, 1996

Super bantamweight (m) and featherweight (M)

42

David Santos †

April 5, 1997

Featherweight (m)

43

José Antonio Rivera †

April 25, 1997

Welterweight (M) and light middleweight (M)

44

Lou Del Valle †

September 20, 1997

Light heavyweight (M)

45

Eric Morel

October 17, 1998

Super flyweight (M)

46

Daniel Santos

May 6, 2000

Welterweight (M) and light middleweight (M, m & M)

47

Nelson Dieppa

July 22, 2000

Light flyweight (M)

48

John Ruiz †

March 3, 2001

Heavyweight (M 2)

49

Aléx Trujillo

May 5, 2001

Light welterweight (m 2)

50

Ángel Chacón

October 27, 2002

Featherweight (m)

51

Iván Calderón

May 3, 2003

Minimumweight (M) and light flyweight (M & L)

52

Manny Siaca

May 5, 2004

Super middleweight (M)

53

Miguel Cotto †

September 11, 2004

Light welterweight (M) and welterweight (M & M)

54

Luis Collazo †

April 2, 2005

Welterweight (M)

55

Kermit Cintrón

October 28, 2006

Welterweight (IM & M)

56

Carlos Quintana

February 9, 2008

Welterweight (M)

57

Orlando Cruz

March 22, 2008

Featherweight (m)

58

Victor Fonseca

March 22, 2008

Bantamweight (m)

59

Juan Manuel López

June 7, 2008

Super bantamweight (M)

60

Román Martínez

March 14, 2009

Super featherweight (M)

61

José López

March 28, 2009

Super flyweight (M)

62

César Seda, Jr.

September 18, 2009

Flyweight (m)

indicates boxer of Puerto Rican heritage that is recognized by the commission due to parent’s nationality, residence or other circumstances.

Current titleholders

Name

Organization

Division

Date Won

César Seda, Jr. International Boxing Organization Flyweight September 18, 2009
Héctor Camacho World Boxing Empire Light middleweight July 18, 2008
Iván Calderón World Boxing Organization and The Ring Light flyweight August 25, 2007
Juan Manuel López World Boxing Organization Super bantamweight June 7, 2008
Román Martínez World Boxing Organization Super featherweight March 14, 2009
Victor Fonseca International Boxing Association Bantamweight March 22, 2008
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