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The Current Top 12 Fighters From Mexico
Juan Angel Zurita (June 9, 2004) 
Erik Morales
A lot of new developments have taken place since the last update, which was over three months ago. Those developments have caused enough of a shakeup to compel me to put together a revised list. I will continue to update the list every three to four months or as major developments transpire. I thank those of you who’ve sent me emails in the past showing your appreciation for the work I put forth in compiling these rankings. Enjoy!


Over the last fifty years, the tradition of Mexican boxing has flourished and Mexican fighters have had a tremendous impact upon the world boxing scene. Within the last 30-40 years, Mexican fighters have begun to garner well-deserved recognition as top fighters in the sport. Today, the rich tradition of pugilistic excellence continues and many of these fighters are considered top fighters in their respective weight classes and top fighters in all of boxing.

Note: The criteria for these rankings is based on quality of opposition, a fighter's performance against his opposition, and a personal 'gut' feeling of how each fighter compares to one another.

After Fight Video: 
Watch and hear what every fighter had to say after their Fights.  Hopkins, De La Hoya, Sturm and Allen all speak and tell you their thoughts.
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1. Erik Morales – 46-1 (34 KOs) – Etched himself a place in Mexican boxing history by defeating Jesus Chavez for the WBC Super Featherweight crown, joining the great Julio Cesar Chavez as the only Mexican nationals to have won three titles in three different weight classes. Next, he’ll be challenging IBF super featherweight champion Carlos Hernandez in a unification match-up in late July. Should he get by the tough Salvadorian, he’ll have to defeat Diego Corrales to prove he’s the man in the division. However, Corrales, who is currently slated to make his lightweight debut against Brazilian bomber Acelino Freitas, may end up staying at lightweight. If Corrales does choose to build a home at lightweight, Morales would then have to defeat Cuban southpaw Joel Casamayor, who’s 1-1 against Corrales, in order to claim the legit top spot at super featherweight.

2. Juan Manuel Marquez – 42-2-1 (33 KOs) – In his last fight against Filipino whirlwind Manny Pacquiao, Marquez overcame a three knockdown first round nightmare and fought his heart out to salvage a draw and hang on to his IBF/WBA titles. What he accomplished was a near impossible feat, something out of a 'Rocky' script. With his valiant performance, Marquez proved to the world that his name belongs alongside fellow Mexican superstars, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales. But though he proved his mettle and solidified his pound for pound quality as a fighter, neither he nor Pacquiao accomplished their ultimate goal of attaining featherweight supremacy. A rematch would put the debate to rest and it appears to be the route both fighters will soon be taking. Marquez has vowed to be better prepared the next time out as the element of surprise has now been removed.

3. Jose Luis Castillo – 50-6-1 (45 KOs) – Castillo’s prime Julio Cesar Chavez-type performance over Juan Lazcano showed the boxing world that he still has plenty left in the tank. He proved to be the stronger and more resilient fighter as he pounded Lazcano’s face until he resembled the Elephant Man’s kid brother. With the victory, many now consider him the man to beat at 135. The man who many felt deserved the first of two fights against P4P King, Floyd Mayweather Jr., is now in pole position in the lightweight division. He could attempt to unify against fellow compatriot Julio Diaz or wait for the winner of the mega lightweight clash between Acelino Freitas and Diego Corrales. Another option would be to move up to the deep, sizzling hot junior welterweight division where he’d be physically more comfortable. If he decides to go that route, he’d be a major player there also.

4. Marco Antonio Barrera – 57-4 (40 KOs) – Recouping from his KO loss to Pacquiao, the Barrera Express is looking to make one last run as he prepares for an upcoming battle against former super bantamweight champ Paulie Ayala. The comeback bout should lend some insight as to how much the Mexican legend has left. While some believe he took Pacquiao too lightly and would fair much better in a rematch, others believe it’s time to hang 'em up. It’s really hard to say at this point, but we should soon have our answer.

5. Oscar Larios – 51-3-1 (35 KOs) – For the last several years, Larios has been a road warrior, pounding out a handful of impressive victories in Japan. Rated number one at junior featherweight by many boxing experts, he continues to look for that one big fight that will put him on the map and he may not have to look too far to find it. In his own division there lies a great challenge in the form of an undefeated, power-punching Dominican named Joan Guzman. If that fight doesn’t take place there are plenty of enticing match-ups at featherweight that Larios would love to partake in. The best Larios has to offer may be yet to come.

6. Rafael Marquez – 31-3 (28 KOs) – The younger brother of featherweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez, Rafael has established himself as one of the top bantamweights in the world. This power-punching bantamweight made his mark by twice defeating Mark 'Too Sharp' Johnson and previously undefeated IBF bantamweight champion Tim Austin. In his last two fights he notched a convincing decision against the always durable, tough former champion Mauricio Pastrana, and destroyed IBF #1 contender Pete Frissina in two rounds. There are several top contenders that pose a threat to him, but as of right now he's the clear favorite against everyone in the bantamweight division.

7. Antonio Margarito – 30-3 (21 KOs) – With wins over Antonio Diaz, Danny Perez and former WBA Welterweight Champion Andrew 'Six Heads' Lewis, Margarito has established himself as a top three welterweight. Sadly, the top names in his division don’t seem to be in a rush to fight him, therefore he’ll more than likely have to move up to junior middleweight in search of the big fights. It’s a shame as most feel he’d have a great shot at upsetting undisputed welterweight champion Cory Spinks.

8. Jorge Arce – 36-3-1 (27 KOs) – Thanks to his participation as a contestant on Mexico’s Big Brother program, a popular reality television show, the talented, power-punching WBC junior flyweight champion is now one of the most recognizable faces in Mexico. An entire program was dedicated to him leading up to his defense against Joma Gamboa, and Arce didn’t disappoint as he blasted out his overmatched opponent in two lightning quick rounds. His last bout proved to be a success as well as he knocked out tough veteran Mel Cob Castro in a rematch of their 2003 encounter, a bout which proved to be much more difficult than Arce had anticipated. Now that he’s left no doubt against Castro, Arce has plenty of potential tests against the other titlists in his division, but we shouldn’t hold our breaths waiting for those match-ups to take place. The word 'unification' seems taboo in the lower weight classes these days.

9. Julio Diaz – 30-2 (22 KOs) – After he was knocked out by Juan Valenzuela a few years ago, it was thought that Diaz would amount to zilch. Diaz didn’t give up though. He believed in himself, worked his way back up the rankings, and proved his critics wrong by defeating Courtney Burton via KO to earn his first title shot. When the title shot finally arrived, Diaz shined with an impressive twelve round decision over tough veteran Javier Jauregui to capture the IBF lightweight title. Today, with the IBF strap firmly wrapped around his waist, major league match-ups loom on the horizon. But despite his renewed success, he’d still be an underdog against dangerous top lightweights Jose Luis Castillo, Acelino Freitas, Diego Corrales and Juan Lazcano. However, if Diaz has taught the boxing world anything, it’s that he should never be counted out ever again.

10. Jesus Chavez – 40-3 (28 KOs) – Put together a valiant performance against Erik Morales and never backed down from the challenge. He should be back strong as a bull when he recuperates from the shoulder injury suffered in that bout. He’d love another crack at 'El Terrible' but will probably have to sit and wait for the time being. 'El Matador' isn’t finished yet.

11. Fernando Montiel – 28-1-1 (22 KOs) – Many had high hopes for this young, talented, skilled boxer. He choked the first time he stepped up to the big leagues by dropping a close decision to Mark 'Too Sharp' Johnson. Montiel was reluctant to mix it up early and allowed Johnson to build up a big lead on the scorecards. He rallied late in the fight, but it was too little too late. If he learns from the Johnson fight, he could go on to become one of the best fighters in the super flyweight division. We know he has the talent, but we’ll soon find out if he’s matured as a fighter.

12. Martin Castillo – 26-1 (16 KOs) – Several years ago Castillo looked like a sure bet to become a world champion. The skill and potential is still there, but not the world title. Since his heartbreaking technical decision loss via cuts to Felix Machado in early 2002, Castillo has won five fights in a row to put himself in title contention once again. Now it’s just a matter of securing a title shot.

Others: Marco Antonio Rubio, Javier Jauregui, Diego Morales, Juan Valenzuela.


* Marquez/Pacquiao 2 is an extremely difficult fight to call. Many experts feel that Marquez will easily outbox Pacquiao now that he’s learned Pacquiao is a one-dimensional left-handed stalker, but you can bet the house that Freddie Roach will add several new tricks to Pacquiao’s arsenal.

* If Jose Luis Castillo can go on a tear at 135-140, we may see Mayweather/Castillo 3 someday.

* Someone give Oscar Larios a huge fight already. Throw him in with one of the featherweight elites. Let’s give this tough little hombre the opportunity to show his stuff.

* Rafael Marquez should consider moving up to 122-126. That’s where the real action is at. Unification match-ups in his division aren’t likely to take place. The other champs are comfortable defending at home overseas.
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