Monzon (August 7, 1942 - January 8, 1995) was an Argentine professional
boxer who held the Undisputed World Middleweight Championship for
7 years. He successfully defended his title 14 times and is widely
regarded as not only one of the best middleweights in history but
also one of the greatest boxers of all time. Known for his speed,
punching power and relentless work rate, Monzon ended his career with
a record of 87-3-9 with 59 knockouts, each one of his losses were
early in his career and were avenged. Inducted into the International
Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990, he was chosen by The Ring magazine in
2002 as the 11th greatest fighter of the last 80 years.
adored Monzon throughout his career. His glamorous and violent life
was avidly followed both by the media and Argentine people. He was,
however, accused many times of domestic violence by his two wives
and many mistresses, and of beating paparazzi. Charged with killing
his wife Alicia Muniz in Mar del Plata in 1988, the former champion
was sentenced to 11 years in jail. He died in a January 1995 car crash
during a weekend furlough.
Monzon was born in the
city of San Javier, Argentina. His parents were Spanish Argentines
Roque Monzon and Amalia Ledesma. Monzon was raised in poverty with
his twelve siblings. When Monzon was six years old, his family moved
to Barranquitas Oeste, a poor neighborhood, of Santa Fe, the captial
of Santa Fe Province. To help out his family, he quit school in third
grade, working different jobs, such as shoe shiner, paper boy and
milk man. As a youngster, he showed and interest in boxing.
he was sixteen, he met Zulema Encarnacion Torres, with whom he had
his first son, Carlos Alberto Monzon. Later, on May 11, 1962, he married
Merceds Beatriz Garcia, nicknamed 'Pelusa.' They were so poor that
they did not have enough money to buy the marriage license. They had
three kids: Silvia Beatriz, Abel Ricardo and Carlos Raul (adopted).
Monzon had his first amateur fight on October
2, 1959. This first fight ended in a draw. Three years later, after
a 73-6-8 amateur record, he became a professional. His first professional
bout was held on February 6, 1963. He knocked out his opponent in
the second round. In 1966, he won the Argentine Middleweight title.
In 1967, he won the South American Middleweight title. After this
success, Argentine boxing promoter Juan Carlos Lectoure pushed him
into the international boxing scene by organizing fights with foreign
boxers such as Douglas Huntley, Charles Austin, Johnny Brooks, Harold
Richardson, Tommy Bethea, Manoel Severino and Eddy Pace.
Middleweight Champion Nino Benvenuti had long had a distinguished
career that included championships in 2 divisions and 2 wins in 3
bouts vs all-time great Emile Griffith. He had lost the year before
to American Tom Bethea in Australia, but in an actual title fight
in Yugoslavia, he avenged that loss.
Nobody expected Monzon to
beat Benvenuti in their title match (very few knew of him). Yet Monzon
applied pressure from the start, and in the 12th, a right hand landed
perfectly on Benvenuti's chin, and the title change hands. Monzon
also beat Benvenuti in a rematch, this time in only three rounds in
Monte Carlo when his seconds threw in the towel.
Monzon became only the second man to stop former three time world
champion Emile Griffith in 14 rounds, and later out-pointed him over
15 in a close fight (before the fight Monzon had to spar three rounds
and run three miles in order to make the weight). Monzon then scored
a win over tough Philadelphian Bennie Briscoe, over-coming a shakey
9th round, in which Briscoe almost scored a knockout; a knockout in
five rounds over European champion Tom Bogs, a knockout in seven rounds
over Cuban-Mexican Jose Mantequilla Napoles in Paris, France and a
10 round knockout of tough Tony Licata of New Orleans at the Madison
Square Garden, in what would turn out to be Monzon's only fight in
the United States.