Best Boxers from Venezuela
Take a look at the top 5 boxers in history from Venezuela. The South American country has produced top notch boxers dating back at least half a century and continuing on through today.
- Betulio Gonzalez (Career: 1968-1988): Fell short in first 2 title tries—to Japanese legend Masao Ohba and WBC Flyweight Champion Erbito Salavarria, who was stripped after using amphetamines during their bout. Won the vacant WBC crown in 1972 and lost it in his first defense. Regained belt in ’73 with a decision over top-five all-time flyweight Miguel Canto. Beat excellent Japanese Shoji Ojuma, then lost his title to him, before dropping a decision to Canto in 1975. Lost a razor-thin nod to Canto in ’76, but rebounded with a decision over WBA champ Guty Espadas. Scored two defenses over rival Ojuma, before losing his belt in 1979. Lost a close split decision to standout champion Santos Laciar in 1982.
- Leo Gamez (Career: 1985-2005): The up-and-down 5-footer won titles in four weight classes from 105-115 pounds. After becoming a titlist at 105, moved up and gave legendary 108-pound champ Myung-Woo Yuh one of his stiffest challenges in a split decision loss. Lost the return more convincingly. Knocked out Shiro Yahiro in 1993 for a belt at 108, going on to make 3 quality defenses. Overcame a rough patch and a 2-year layoff to knock out WBA Flyweight Champion Hugo Soto in 3 rounds. In 2000, knocked out Hideki Todaka in Tokyo to consolidate his claim to a belt at 115 pounds.
- Antonio Cermeno (Career: 1990-2006): At nearly 5’10,” “El Coloso” towered over his adversaries during world championship runs at 122 and 126 pounds in the 1990’s. Largely unknown, he annexed the WBA 122-pound belt from Wilfredo Vazquez via decision in 1995. Defended against ex-champ Jesus Salud, Angel Chacon, and Jose Rojas, among his 7 defenses. Moved up to featherweight and lost to excellent Freddie Norwood, before claiming the WBA title, which he lost to Norwood in a split decision rematch. Dropped back to 122 and claimed an interim belt before age caught up with him.
- Carlos Hernandez (Career: 1959-1971): Knocked out 46-fight veteran Davey Moore a year before Moore won the Featherweight Title—after being a pro for barely a year. A draw with excellent Kenny Lane and knockouts of lightweight champions Joe Brown and Teo Cruz made him a true threat. Avenged the draw and a defeat to Lane by knocking him out in 2 rounds in 1964. Avenged another defeat by beating Hall of Famer Eddie Perkins for the WBC and WBA 140-pound titles in 1965. Lost title in 3rd defense to Sandro Lopopolo in 1966. Managed to drop defensive legend Nicolino Locche, before losing in a 1969 title bid.
- Antonio Esparragoza (Career: 1981-1991): Lost in his 5th fight in 1982 and went undefeated until 1991, winning nearly every fight by knockout. Knocked out Barry McGuigan-conqueror Steve Cruz for the WBA Featherweight Title in 1987 and made 7 successful defenses before losing his title in Korea to Young-Kyun Park. Perhaps Esparragoza didn’t maximize his potential with a ho-hum title reign, but the wiry Venezuelan was the de facto number-one featherweight for a spell and a legitimate one-shot knockout artist.
Hopefully you enjoyed our list of the best boxers from Venezuela in the history of the sport. There have certainly been other prominent Venezuelan pro boxers over the years, so feel free to add your thoughts about who should have made the list.