ONE of eleven children born into poverty in the city of San Javier, Argentina on August 7, 1942, middleweight legend Carlos Monzon went on to scale the dizziest heights in boxing and beat all challengers to his throne.
Monzon won the crown in his 80th fight in November, 1970, with a 12th-round knockout of Italian idol Nino Benvenuti in Rome and had a record 14 title defenses before retiring in 1977.
After amassing a 16-3 (14) 1NC record, Monzon went the rest of his 100-fight career without tasting defeat. Throughout the 70s, Monzon made the middleweight division his own, defying all challengers and cementing his place as an all-time great, fighting for 13 years without a loss.
In retirement Monzon’s turbulent life began to unravel. He had a short temper and was frequently arrested for assault. His first wife shot him and he carried a bullet in his back for the rest of his life. Several of his businesses failed.
He began to drink heavily and he was jailed in 1981 for possessing a firearm. He had frequent violent rows with his partner Alicia Muniz which often involved the police. On St Valentine’s Day in 1988 another argument broke out at a party and both Monzon and Alicia fell off the balcony of their apartment. Muniz died and Monzon claimed it was an accident but he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for her murder. The killing gripped Argentina, where Monzon was a hero.
After five years he was released on parole and on January 8th 1995 he and a friend were driving back to Las Flores prison when his car overturned. Both men were killed. Monzon was just 52.
Here, we list 10 of his best wins:
1 W RSF 12 Nino Benvenuti
In 1970 Monzon ripped the WBA and WBC titles from Benvenuti in the champion’s home country, Italy, to begin his record-breaking reign. It was voted fight of the year and Monzon was given little chance to beat the long-reigning champion. After reportedly being upset at the weigh in after Nino touched his behind, Carlos set about the Italian and bludgeoned him inside 12 rounds.
2 W RSF 14 Emile Griffith
In front of a baying crowd in Buenos Aires in 1971, Monzon once again upset the odds and beat a highly-touted favourite. Having won world titles at welter and middleweight, Griffith was a huge challenge. After 14 gruelling rounds, Monzon forced Griffith into a corner and methodically broke the challenger down and forced the stoppage.
3 W UD 15 Rodrigo Valdez
The rematch was not so straight forward for the champion, who was clearly fading at 35 by the time the two met in Monte Carlo a year later. He prevailed on points once again but had to get off the floor to do so to close out his career.
4 W RSF 7 Jose Napoles
One of the finest welterweights in history, Napoles’ decision to face Monzon at middleweight was not wise. Considerably bigger, Monzon manhandled Napoles in February 1974 and put him out of his misery in the seventh.
5 W UD 15 Bennie Briscoe
Having fought to a draw in 1967, Monzon beat the fearless Philadelphian in November 1972 in front of a partisan crowd in Buenos Aires. He cleverly dealt with Briscoe’s ferocious attacks over 15 rounds and earned an impressive decision.
6 W RSF 13 Jean-Claude Bouttier
In 1972, Carlos travelled to Bouttier’s native France to defend his middleweight crown. Ugly at times, but the pair fought a classic and Monzon won in the 13th.
7 W UD 15 Rodrigo Valdez
At the time, in 1976, Valdez was the only real threat to Monzon’s supremacy. At the Louis II football ground, Monzon outlasted and outfought Valdez to unify the division once again.
8 W UD 15 Jean-Claude Bouttier
Once again in France, Monzon took on the tough Bouttier in front of 13,000 people. He had been talking about retirement beforehand, but Monzon used his height and reach advantages to earn an exciting points win.
9 W RSF 10 Tony Licata
Licata did not put up too much of a fight, but this win was notable for its location – Madison Square Garden in New York. Monzon fulfilled an ambition by fighting in America in what would be the only time he did so during his career.
10 W KO 7 Tony Mundine
Although not particularly durable, Australia’s Mundine was a big hitter. In front of 25,000 adoring fans in Luna Park, Buenos Aires, Monzon dragged out the punishment over six rounds before despatching of Mundine in the seventh.