History | Jan 08 2019

On This Day: Middleweight legend Carlos Monzon died in 1995

George Zeleny reflects on one of the greatest careers in boxing history - Carlos Monzon
CarlosMonzon

UNDOUBTEDLY an exceptional fighter, Carlos Monzon reigned as world middleweight champion for seven years, defended his title 14 times, was never knocked out or stopped and only lost three points decisions – all in early part of his career. Monzon had none of the flamboyance of a Sugar Ray Robinson or a Sugar Ray Leonard but nevertheless was a formidable fighting machine. In the ring he was cool under fire, grim-faced and upright, cunning and seemingly one-paced. He overcame his opponents with hard, straight thudding punches, methodically and clinically taking them apart. Outside the ring he had a dark side. He was continuously in trouble with the law for various indiscretions, including punching a photographer, and his short life ended in violence and destruction.

Born in San Javier, Argentina in 1942, the family moved to nearby Santa Fe and settled in the city’s slums. From an early age he learnt the art of survival on the streets and ran wild. He sold newspapers, shined shoes and delivered milk. He regularly got into trouble. He started a riot at a football match and was also arrested for brawling on a bus. His mean and aggressive nature was already evident as a young man and, as with many before him, boxing came to his rescue. Monzon drifted into a gym by way of refuge from the harsh streets. He did well as an amateur winning 73 of his 87 fights and turned professional at the age of 20 because he realised it offered him the chance of a better life. He began building up his remarkable career while not venturing out of Argentina. In seven years campaigning he had over 80 fights winning the Argentinian and South American middleweight titles. He twice beat the capable Jorge Fernandez who had campaigned successfully in the United States, losing a world welterweight title shot against Emile Griffith in 1962. Monzon lost three points decisions, to the experienced Antonio Aguliar in his ninth fight, to Felipe Cambiero (Monzon was reportedly floored three times) and to Alberto Massi in October 1964. He beat all three in subsequent fights. Monzon also fought nine draws in his career. Among the men who held him was Philadelphia’s “Bad” Bennie Briscoe in 1967. Five years later Monzon outscored the hard punching American in a title defence.

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