Perhaps the only reason people don’t name Argentina as a fight-mad country more often is that it is so overshadowed in the crowded picture of Latin America. After all, it has to share the Spanish-speaking Western Hemisphere with giants like Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico. Yet while Argentina indeed stands behind those mega-boxing countries, it is only just behind them. Especially these days, it’s hard to see Argentina as anything but a boxing powerhouse.
Marcos Maidana and Lucas Matthysse point straight to the heart of Argentina’s disproportionate pro showing, because right there we have the world’s #3 welterweight and its #1 junior welterweight. Sergio Martinez remains the #3 middleweight in the world as well, despite his crushing loss to Miguel Cotto. Only last year Martinez handily out-pointed Martin Murray, so while he has clearly declined, calling him “shot” seems premature.
Now let’s add the lesser known of Argentina’s world class boxers to the list. Welterweight contender Luis Abregu is Argentine, as is welterweight fringe contender Diego Chaves. Frankly, it’s hard to seriously discuss the red hot 140 and 147 lbs divisions without talking quite a bit about Argentina. Add to that picture the current World Super Flyweight Champion, Omar Andres Narvarez, and Argentina is looking pretty good.
Fans and Venues
One thing you realize when you study the records of Argentine fighters is that Argentina has a solid club fighting circuit, as Argentine fighters have absolutely no need to leave their homeland to start their careers. On the other hand, Argentina simply does not have the ability to draw traveling fight fans or market television rights to serve as the platform for a major event, so the best fighters inevitably leave Argentina to pursue big fights and world titles. So, the country has plenty of fight fans and fight venues, but not enough of the green stuff to consistently stage big fights at home. The country has clearly come back from the slump of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Despite its solid gym scene and pro-fight circuit, Argentina does not do well in international amateur competition. The country usually places just one or two fighters in the Olympics, where they never do well, and in the last 40 years Argentine boxers have collected a mere three medals (one silver, two bronze) at the World Amateur Championships, exactly tied with Japan. Most serious boxers in Argentina seem to go on to the professional circuit as soon as possible.
With a thriving club scene, Argentina clearly has no dearth of gyms and trainers. Luna Park in Buenos Aires might be the national cathedral of boxing, but there is plenty of activity across the rest of the country.
History & Significance
Stop and think about the place Argentine fighters have had in the history of boxing, and one quickly realizes there hasn’t actually been an era that didn’t have esteemed boxers. From Luis Firpo to Carlos Monzon to Sergio Martinez, there have always been Argentine contenders, and some of them have become quite famous. The country casts a shadow in boxing comparable to Britain, and with a smaller population from which to draw athletes and while standing isolated from the tradition promotional centers in the U.S., Mexico, Puerto Rico and Europe.
Pound for Pound Pros
With the recent fall of middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, Argentina no longer has a single fighter in the pound for pound top 20. However, a single high-profile win is all it would take to vault either Marcos Maidana or Lucas Matthysse into the Top 20, so this situation is probably temporary.
Bonus Points: 0
Overall Boxing World Cup Score for Argentina: 16 points