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"It was brutality and artistry rolled into one package, it was indeed one of the best fights of the 1970's, and of the 20th century."

It is always good to be remembered for one thing in life, no matter what it was  - a prediction come true, an achievement, a relationship, or an event.

The fight was a "blur".

It was one of those unheralded classics, a fight that took place a long time ago in a land so far away, yet 42 years later can still be regarded as one of the best fights in the twentieth century.

Romeo Anaya died December 24, 2015 in Chiapas Mexico at age 69.  Known as "El Lacandon" a nickname derived from his unique Mexican culture, Anaya turned professional in 1967 and annexed the WBA bantamweight crown from Enrique Pinder in January 1973, in the champions native Panama. Anaya  would defend the title four times that year, including a rematch with Pinder, who Anaya stopped at Inglewood Forum in three rounds that August.

Anaya had a signature punch, evidenced in many of his bouts -- that was a half uppercut/left hook.

On November 3, 1973 in front of 20,000 fans at Rand Stadium, South Africa, Anaya would once again step into hostile territory, ready to defend his title against top rated Arnold Taylor. Taylor had racked up 33 wins against 4 defeats, one defeat noted to Australia's famous champion, Johnny Famechon.

It was for the WBA bantamweight title. It was the first title fight in South Africa in 18 years. The referee was Stanley Christodoulou.

From the opening bell Anaya controlled the pace of the action, stalking Taylor, who was content to box from long range. Taylor was 3 inches taller, and it seemed as though the jab would work well for him. After the first round however Taylor had different ideas. In round two he attacked Anaya, using a quick two fisted attack that had Anaya backtracking. It was a surprise to see a role reversal with the slugger becoming the boxer and the boxer becoming very hostile. It was probably that Taylor, sensing the cool rhythm of his opponent, was going to break that rhythm, no matter what risks it may have entailed. 

And risk it was. Anaya scored a knockdown with a quick one-two counter in round three, and again it seemed as though Taylor would box and stay out of range of the murderous Anaya. Taylor, though. held his hands high and was going  punch for punch, as if to say "I am drawing my line in the sand, go for it".  Taylor, down once, was going out on his shield, if he was going out -- challenging the hard hitting bantamweight champion at his own game. Taylor wasn't interested in winning a points decision, he wanted to annex the title from Anaya, making it clear of who the victor would be.  And in round 5 Taylor again turned to a bull, countering with a damaging right cross, knocking down the champion and going for the kill. However the elusive Anaya stayed calm in the chaos, boxed brilliantly, avoided most shots, and by the 6th round was back to controlling the action. The 7th was a seesaw battle, pitting Taylor's straight right vs Anaya's left hook, with all the best boxing in between. Both looking for the advantage while feinting, blocking, winging --  all at an blazing pace.

And the 8th started with a knockdown -- Anaya again seemed to have figured this out, catching Taylor in mid volley with an half left hook/uppercut, perfectly timed off Taylors straight right.  Taylor was gone -- rubber legged as he got up from a long count -- because Anaya failed to go to the proper corner. Taylor resumed but was soon to see the canvas again, crumbling down from Anaya's barrage -- and the end was near. With so much time left and Taylor helpless, how could this fight continue?

Instinct guided Taylor through the rough as Anaya ripped left uppercuts and right hands. Taylor fought back gamely and it became apparent that Anaya had punched himself out, only to have him take punishment on the ropes from Taylor as the round came to a close. In the ninth, Taylor neutralized Anaya, as the pace slowed. In the tenth, Anaya again had Taylor in trouble, flooring the contender with a left hook. Taylor again was in survival mode, but was still launching an offense as the round ended.

It was clear that Anaya was winning this fight, an exciting one at that.

In the 11th, Anaya was once again in control, dictating the pace with his jab, looking to work his right and left hook off of it. Taylor seemed to be content with boxing, looking for an opening he could capitalize on. The 12th and 13th were furious, with both fighters letting it all hang out. Toward the end of the 13th Taylor trapped Anaya on the ropes and got the better of the action as the bell sounded.

In the 14th, Taylor, sensing that maybe Anaya was hurt from the previous round, went for broke. Anaya was stalking him and ready to strike when Taylor caught him flush with a straight right coming in. Anaya was flat down on the canvas. He tried in vain to get up. in As the count reached ten, Taylor had become South Africa's first world champion since Vic Toweel in the 1950's.     

Anaya fought on, including a rematch with Taylor that did not match the intensity of the first match, and other names such as Sean O'Grady, Raphael Herrera among others, and finished his career with a record of 41-19-1.

Both fighters are gone now (Taylor died in 1981 motorcycle accident) but will be remembered for this "beaut" of a fight. It stands tall among many.

 In the USA, fans got the news in pictures and a story. It was unheralded -- it did not get "Fight of the Year" but it was by far. It had every element of a boxing fan can hope for -- good boxing, excellent punching, both fighters having their moments, and yes, a come from behind miraculous victory.   


Mark, Boca Raton FL: Never saw this one, but it reminds me of the Carbajal-Gonzalez fight in 1993. That fight was fought at a high level, blistering pace, with Carbajal, being down twice, halting Gonzalez in round 7.

  Ross, Chicago IL: What was the Fight Of the Year in 1973?






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Last updated: 07/15/18.