NOBODY knows what Salvador Sanchez could have gone on to achieve in his career. At only 23 years of age, the Mexican was a reigning WBC featherweight champion with nine successful defences under his belt, including victories over future all-time greats Wilfredo Gomez and Azumah Nelson. Just over three weeks after his stoppage defeat of the previously unbeaten Nelson, Sanchez died in a car crash; his Porsche colliding with a pick-up truck. If that tragic incident had not occurred, it is likely that “Chava” would have worked his way even further up the illustrious list of the greatest fighters of all-time.
Salvador made his professional boxing debut in 1975 at the age of 16. It is reported that he only had four amateur bouts before turning over. Tall and slim with a technically adept style, he stormed his way to 18 straight victories, with all but one of those wins coming by way of stoppage or knockout. This impressive run led to an attempt at the vacant Mexican bantamweight title in September 1977. However, Sanchez ended up on the wrong side of a split decision verdict against Antonio Becerra in Mazatlan.
After bouncing back with two points victories, the Santiago Tianguistenco man travelled to Los Angeles to make his first appearance outside of his native Mexico. In a difficult contest, Sanchez was held to a draw by Juan Escobar. He would go on to win all of his remaining bouts up until his premature death four years and three months later.
Thirteen consecutive victories between July 1978 and December 1979 earned Sal a shot at the WBC featherweight king Danny Lopez in 1980. “Little Red”, who had held the title for more than three years and had a reputation for being a big hitter, was unceremoniously dispatched of inside 13 rounds in Phoenix, Arizona. Sanchez punished his rival with sharp, accurate punches, forcing the referee to step in.
In the same year, the new WBC titlist made four impressive defences of his coveted strap, seeing off Lopez in a rematch (w rsf 14), as well as Ruben Castillo, Patrick Ford and Juan LaPorte all on points.
After retaining his world belt against Roberto Castanon in 10, Sanchez outscored Nicky Perez in a non-title affair to set up a mouth-watering clash with undefeated Puerto Rican Wilfredo Gomez, who he stopped in the eighth round in Las Vegas [see below]. That fantastic victory over a previously dominant Gomez brought Salvador much recognition in the USA, helping him to become a household name in the sport.
Two points successes over Pat Cowdell and Rocky Garcia – both in Texas – followed, before the featherweight boss met a 13-0 Azumah Nelson in July 1982. The future two-weight world champion fought with aggression and heart, but he was unable to dethrone the imperious Sanchez, who stopped the Ghanaian in the final round.
Salvador had the boxing world at his feet at this point. With a potential contest against WBC lightweight ruler Alexis Arguello in the offing, the life of one of Mexico’s finest fighters was sadly cut short in its prime.
Sensational Sal stops Gomez
WHEN Sanchez put his WBC featherweight championship on the line against the WBC super-bantamweight boss Wilfredo Gomez on August 21, 1981, the Mexican went into the fight as a 2-1 underdog. Heading into the contest, Gomez had compiled a truly outstanding career record of 32-0-1 (32), including 14 world title bouts. Many boxing observers believed that “Bazooka” was an unstoppable force in the ring. However, Salvador proved them wrong.
In front of a roaring, packed house of 4,500 at Caesars Palace, he shot out of the blocks in the first session, flooring Wilfredo with a left hook-right hand combination. Gomez managed to clamber to his feet and make it to the end of the round, but he looked to be only a punch or two away from defeat immediately following the knock down.
The Puerto Rican recovered sufficiently to take a share of the next six rounds, before the bell rang for the start of the eighth. During this stanza, Sanchez nailed Gomez against the ropes and unleashed a swarming barrage of punches, sending his adversary to the canvas once again. Despite rising at the count of eight, Wilfredo was in no fit state to continue, and the bout was called off at two minutes and nine seconds of the round.
TWO generations later and Salvador Sanchez II is plying his trade as a prizefighter. With bundles of charisma and inherited looks, he has been featured on some noteworthy undercards but the nephew of the original Salvador Sanchez has a seriously hard act to follow and has amassed a record of 28 wins, four losses and three draws since turning pro in 2005.
Born January 26, 1959 in Santiago Tianguistenco, Mexico Died August 12, 1982 Wins 44 Knockouts 32 Losses 1 Draws 1 Best Win Wilfredo Gomez w rsf 8 Worst Loss Antonio Becerra l pts 12 Pros Counterpunching, tactical awareness Cons Could not fulfil potential