In 1981, Puerto Rican Wilfedo Gomez stepped into the ring with Mexican Salvador Sanchez in the start of a fight that would set the precedent for the Mexico-Puerto Rico boxing rivalry. The fight would prove to be a treat for boxing fans everywhere, and in essence helped motivate the boxing world to build up a constructive rivalry for the good of the sport. Truly, the chemistry between the distinct styles of Mexican and Puerto Rican fighters at large gives birth to action-packed nights. And though it may be a crucible for the two individuals in the ring, the boxing that they produce invigorates fans, and the sport of boxing.
Since that night, there has been a steadfast tradition of legendary fights among Mexican and Puerto Rican fighters:
Felix Trinidad vs Fernando Vargas
The event opened with a spectacular pair of knock-downs by the Puerto Rican star Trinidad, only to have the momentum reverse in favor of the bravery and tenacity of Mexican-American Vargas. The war of a fight went the 12-round distance with Trinidad eventually resuming his control of the action and fighting pace leading to a Puerto Rican victory.
Felix Trinidad vs Oscar “Golden Boy” De La Hoya
A defining night in the careers of both fighters. The Golden Boy took the lead throughout the majority of the fight, getting into a comfortable rhythm and controlling the engagements. The last three rounds proved to be pivotal in the victory for Trinidad, with the Puerto Rican fighter closing the distance that had prevented him from landing punches up to that point. Felix Trinidad walked away with a majority decision after a full twelve-rounds of action.
Miguel Cotto vs Antonio Margarito
This fight began a two-fight saga of blood, swollen eyes, and redemption for Puerto Rican boxing legend Miguel Cotto. Mexican Antonio Margarito ridiculed and taunted in press conferences leading up to both fights and truly created an unforgiving atmosphere when the opening bell rung. Cotto displayed beautiful boxing ability and largely excelled during the first half of the fight. As the bout wore into the second half, the tide turned and Margarito proved the validity of his reputed “iron chin” and was able to step into Cotto’s front yard and land effective blows. Antonio left the ring with a technical knockout (TKO) win for Mexico.
Miguel Cotto vs Antonio Margarito II
In many ways a carbon copy of the first fight, the fight ended in a perfectly executed show of TKO redemption for Miguel Cotto. Though the initial rounds had a very similar dynamic to that of the initial rounds in the first fight, Cotto made spectacular use of his footwork to befuddle Margarito’s determined attempts to trap his opponent the way he had in their first meeting in the ring.
The story of Mexico vs Puerto Rico will begin and finish the next chapter tomorrow night at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, where Miguel Cotto will step into the ring with rising Mexican star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Stylistically, the potential for excitement is there. Culturally, the potential is always there. And if the history of this rivalry has taught us one thing, it’s to fasten your seatbelt for the next episode.