As Mexicans get ready for their bicentennial celebration, it’s once again time to take a look at who’s who among The Aztec Nation’s best boxers. So, to kick off Mexican Independence Day properly, here’s a look at Mexico’s Top 10 fighters:
1) Juan Manuel Marquez (51-5-1, 37 KOs): Despite a tough loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr during his brief stint at welterweight last September, Marquez sits atop a very impressive list of Mexican fighters and reigns supreme in the lightweight division. Even at 37 years of age and despite showing some signs of slowing down during his July win over Juan Diaz, “Dinamita” is still one of boxing’s best technical fighters and one of it’s toughest combatants. Next up for Marquez is an explosive showdown with Aussie warrior, Michael Katsidis in November.
2) Fernando Montiel (43-2-2, 33 KOs): “Cochulito” had a bad 2009, finishing the year with a technical draw to Alejandro Valdez and a deep gash over his left eye. 2010 definitely brought a return to form for Montiel as he won the vacant WBO title against undefeated Ciso Morales via TKO 1 in February and then annexed the WBC version of the title two months later by going to Japan and knocking out the highly-regarded Hozumi Hasegawa in four rounds. Less than three months after that, Montiel would make his first defense of the unified title by stopping Panama’s Rafael Concepcion in three. Plans to fight talented Filipino-American, Nonito Donaire, have apparently fallen apart, but Montiel plans on defending his titles one more time before the end of the year.
3) Edgar Sosa (40-6, 24 KOs): Former junior flyweight champ, Sosa saw his title reign and physical well-being disappear at the end of 2009 thanks to a headbutt to the cheek and orbital bone by Rodel Mayol. After seven months of rehab, Sosa is back and looking sharper than ever. Once a 108 lb. champion with ten consecutive defenses, Sosa seems to be focusing now on the flyweight division, one weight class to the north of his old stomping grounds. He’s 3-0 with 3 KOs against solid opposition so far this year.
4) Giovanni Segura (25-1-1, 21 KOs): Already an impressive world class fighter, this Aztec Warrior from the state of Guerrero, did the impossible by not only beating longtime junior flyweight kingpin, Ivan Calderon, but by stopping the defensive genius as well. Segura is a buzzsaw of aggression and determination who cuts opponents down by sheer brute force. He’s also one of boxing’s pound-for-pound biggest punchers and his six straight stoppage wins prove that fact.
5) Humberto Soto (52-7-2, 32 KOs): Often lost in the mix, “La Zorrita” remains one of boxing’s best technical fighters and a textbook example of the Mexican style of prize fighting. 2010 saw Soto firmly establish himself in the lightweight division by beating former champ, David Diaz, for the vacant WBC lightweight title in March. Questions remain whether Soto, a natural super featherweight, has the physical strength to sustain a long title run at 135, but, after a September 18th optional defense, Soto will entertain many of the title fight options sitting at his doorstep.
6) Alfredo Angulo (19-1, 16 KOs): “El Perro” spent 2010 utterly demolishing a former title challenger, Joel Julio, and a former world champion, Joachime Alcine, in eleven and two rounds respectively. Still hurting psychologically from a mid-2009 decision loss to Kermit Cintron, Angulo has stopped his last four opponents within the distance and has looked brutally sharp in the process.
7) Rafael Marquez (39-5, 35 KOs): There’s still debate as to how much his four-fight series with Israel Vazquez has taken from him, but in the fourth installment of Marquez-Vazquez, it was Rafael who looked young and fresh by stopping his rival in three bloody rounds. Perhaps the finest pure boxer on this list, Marquez deserves the benefit of the doubt in his career and will have a chance to show the world what he has left in his November bout with heavy-handed Puerto Rican star, Juan Manuel Lopez.
8.) Abner Mares (20-0-1, 13 KOs): There were a lot of doubts swirling around the 24-year old Mares. There were some health concerns and some buzz doubting his mental toughness, but Mares ended all negative talk by stepping up against Yonnhy Perez, and fighting the underrated, tough-as-nails Colombian world champ to a controversial draw. Many ringside observers, including this writer, felt that Mares deserved the nod. The native of Guadalajara, Jalisco steps up his game even further in December as he takes on Armenian wild man, Vic Darchinyan in the first round of a mini-bantamweight tournament.
9) Ulises Solis (31-2-2, 21 KOs): “Archie” Solis could have taken his loss to Brian Viloria in April of 2009 the wrong way and allow it to fester in the back of his mind. Instead, this former junior flyweight champ went right back to work and has scored three straight dominant wins over solid opposition. Solis’ goal is to recapture gold, whether it be at 108 or 112 lbs.
10) Saul Alvarez (33-0-1, 25 KOs): Last year’s #10 is still at that spot. “El Canelo” has taken his first steps forward and has upped the level of his recent opposition since Independence Day, 2009. Alvarez stands to go up another step by taking on former world champ from Argentina, Carlos Baldomir, September 18th. With tremendous physical strength and a growing technical repertoire, the 20-year old Guadalajara native seems to be destined for great things.
Honorable mention: Hugo Cazarez, Jorge Solis, Raul Garcia, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Miguel Vazquez, Jorge Arce.
Tags: Abner Mares, Alfredo Angulo, Boxing, Fernando Montiel, Giovanni Segura, Humberto Soto, Jorge Arce, Juan Manuel Marquez, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Rafael Marquez, Saul Alvarez