Nicolino "El Intocable" Locche
He turned professional
in 1958 and ten years and one day after
his pro debut he became a world
champion. Nevertheless, it was a long
road for Argentine defensive wizard
Nicolino Locche. By the time he met Paul
Fuji in Tokyo, Japan for the World
Boxing Association Light
Welterweight title, Locche had amassed
over one hundred fights. He halted the
pained and frustrated Fuji in the tenth
round to capture the crown.
From the beginning Locche fought almost
all his battles in his native Argentina.
His early career had its ups and downs
but he won far more times then he
lost or drew. In 1963, he
burst on to the international scene with
a decision win over former world
lightweight champion Joe "Old Bones"
Brown. In 1965, Nicolino met newly
crowned lightweight titlist, the slick
Ismael Laguna. The non title, overweight
affair was judged a draw. Laguna then
lost the title back to the great Carlos
Ortiz and in 1966, Locche met Ortiz in a
non title affair. Again, the crafty
Nicolino had to settle for a draw.
Locche then set upon securing a world
title shot for himself. In 1966, he won
a non title ten round verdict over
reigning world light welterweight
champion Sandro Lopopolo. In 1967, he
beat rugged L.C. Morgan and former
champion Eddie Perkins. In 1968, he
defeated Mexican Al Urbina. Then the
shot came against Fuji who had defeated
In 1969, Locche defended against former
champion, the very dangerous Carlos
Hernandez and the talented Joao
Henrique. In 1970, he turned back the
challenge of the able Adolph Pruitt. In
1971, he defeated Domingo Barrera Corpas
and scored a masterful victory over
Antonio "Kid Pambele" Cervantes.
Finally, in 1972, Nicolino was enticed
to go to Panama where he met Alfonso
"Peppermint" Frazier. The underdog
Frazier out hustled the aging Locche to
annex the crown. Nicolino would then put
together a four fight win streak, while
Frazier lost the title to Cervantes. In
1973, Nicolino met Cervantes in
Venezuela and was stopped in the
beginning of the tenth round.
No longer a champion, the proud Locche
reeled off seven straight victories in
hopes of regaining his crown. Finally in
1976 it became apparent that a title
shot was not going to materialize so
Nicolino hung up the gloves for good.
Locche ended up with an amazing 117-4-14
record. Although he was not a hard
hitter as he scored only fourteen
knockouts, Nicolino was a master boxer.
He ranks right up there with the great
Willie Pep as a defensive genius. He was
not nicknamed "El Intocable," (The
Untouchable) for nothing.
Nicolino was inducted into the
International Boxing Hall Of Fame in
2003. He passed away in 2005, leaving
behind a true legacy of his tremendous
8,1971 ; 42 YEARS AGO THE GREATEST SHOW
ON EARTH TOOK PLACE
There are certain
dates that will stick with you as
long as you live. Your birthday, the
birthdays of family members,
anniversaries, the day that you got
your divorce ( s ), etc…Happy and
important days that mark milestones
in your life.
One such date I’ll
always remember is March 8, 1971.
The ” Battle Of The Century “, it
was so aptly named. Two undefeated
boxers who each had a legitimate
claim to being the heavyweight
champion of the world would collide.
When Muhammad Ali first won the
title in 1964 his name was Cassius
Clay. He would shortly thereafter
change his name and then proceed to
change the face of boxing. He
dominated the scene until 1967 when
he refused induction into the US
Military due to his religious
beliefs. Then came the Eight Man
Elimination Tourney that was won by
Jimmy Ellis. The powerful New York
State Athletic Commission would
recognize the winner of a match up
between unbeaten boxers Joe Frazier
and Buster Mathis. A bout in which
Joe won. In 1970 Frazier stopped
Ellis to claim the vacated title.
Later that year Muhammad Ali
returned to ring wars and halted
highly ranked contenders Jerry
Quarry and Oscar Bonavena. The stage
was now set. Ali and Frazier would
clash for the undisputed title.
The first Ali –
Frazier bout was the epic that all
others are compared to, even today.
There is no reason in this article
to describe the bout itself. Reams
of print have appeared documenting
the action that took place in the
ring that magical night. What I
would like to share is the impact
that fight on me and probably
millions of others. I have never
before or since March 8, 1971 felt
the same way about a prize fight.
Yes there were a few that stirred my
anticipation like Duran-DeJesus II
and III, Leonard-Duran I, Leonard-Hearns
I, Pryor-Arguello I, Hagler-Hearns
and Leonard-Hagler. Still to this
day Ali – Frazier I tops them all.
Was Ali – Frazier
I the best action fight of all time
? I would have to say no but for
sheer anticipation, drama and
excitement, this fight was the whole
package. You had movie star Burt
Lancaster as a commentator and Frank
Sinatra as a photographer. Each
boxer would receive $ 2.5 million
for their nights work. That was an
unheard sum of money for one fight
I have never been
so wound up with anticipation for a
boxing match in my life. I was a few
months shy of my seventeenth
birthday and had been a boxing fan
from the time I was ten. I had
closely followed all the events
leading up this day in boxing
On fight night I
was at a party and we gathered
around the radio listening to the
round by round summary. We were
pretty much split on the outcome of
the fight but almost all of us were
rooting for ” Smokin’ Joe “. From
the round by round reports we could
sense that this was a bout with
shifting momentums. The ever proud
Ali realized that Joe had come to
fight this evening. Maybe Ali took
Frazier too lightly. Maybe Muhammad
rushed too soon to get back in the
ring after his lengthy layoff.
Maybe, just maybe the Joe Frazier of
March 8, 1971 was one of the
greatest heavyweights of all time.
I’ve never seen a boxer who laid it
all out for one fight like Joe did
that night. You’ve heard it said
that a boxer would rather die then
be defeated. On this night Joe would
have died a hundred deaths before
giving in to Ali.
Round after round
went by and as we listened to the
radio. In the eleventh Frazier
rocked Ali and we as a collective
group cheered. Even the ones who had
bet on Ali to win. As the bout moved
into the ” championship ” rounds, we
were all on the edge of our seats.
Then it happened. It was announced
on the radio the Joe had decked Ali
in the fifteenth round. More
cheering and now the wait. Finally
it was time to render the decision.
The winner and still heavyweight
champion of the world…Joe Frazier!
Oh what a night.
Forty two years later I can remember
it like it was yesterday. Joe
Frazier has passed on and Ali, my
friends and myself are in the
twilight of our lives. Still when I
think of that night it takes me back
to my youth and to the ultimate
excitement that probably the
greatest single sporting event of
all time brought me. Thanks Joe and
HEAVYWEIGHT JOSE LUIS GARCIA ; HE KNOCKED OUT KEN NORTON
There may have never been a more talent rich period in
the heavyweight division then from 1968 to 1978. With
Muhammad Ali (a.k.a. Cassius Clay) on the sidelines due
to his draft case, other big men emerged. They would
compete with each other on an almost equal basis for the
next decade. Joe Frazier had risen to the top of the
heap but the level below him would remain as mainstays
in the ratings for years to come. Jimmy Ellis, Jerry
Quarry, Oscar Bonevena, Floyd Patterson, George Chuvalo
and Henry Cooper would eventually give way to Ron Lyle,
Joe Bugner, Ken Norton, Earnie Shavers and Jimmy Young.
All time great champions like George Foreman and Larry
Holmes also made their mark and Ali re-emerged to
reclaim his throne.
Lost among the giants of that time period was a fine
heavyweight from Venezuela named Jose Luis Garcia.
Although Jose never challenged for the world
championship he did meet three who did. He also met
three world champions in a career that never seemed to
reach its full potential.
Jose turned pro in his native country in 1968. He would
go undefeated in his first nine bouts before losing a
decision to future light-heavyweight champion Vincente
Rondon. Three fights later Jose was halted by tough
Allen Thomas in his first U.S. appearance. The lean
Garcia was beginning to grow into a full-fledged
heavyweight. On July 2, 1970 Garcia scored the biggest
victory of his career. In Los Angeles as a heavy
underdog, Jose met unbeaten and upcoming future champion
Ken Norton. Garcia’s superior hand speed and deceptive
power sent Norton crashing in round eight.
The huge upset of Norton landed Garcia smack in the
middle of the heavyweight picture. Four months later
Garcia halted used up ex-contender Thad Spencer. By now
Garcia was gaining substantial weight. He was, by
today’s standards, a cruiserweight when he beat Norton.
Now he was ballooning to over 200 plus pounds. In 1971
he moved up in the ratings with wins over veterans
Charlie Polite, James J. Woody, John Griffin and Alberto
Lovell. Jose opened 1973 with victories over Roby
Harris, Florida Al Jones and Johnny Hudgins.
It all came crashing down on October 23rd, 1972 when ex-WBA
champion Ernie Terrell came to Caracas. Ernie had been
written off after late 60’s losses to Thad Spencer and
Manuel Ramos. Against Garcia though he looked the part
of a rejuvenated former champ as he pounded Garcia into
submission in the sixth round. In Jose’s comeback bout
seven months later Joe Alexander destroyed him in one
round. Next came a crushing kayo loss to Ron Lyle. Jose
put together four wins but then lost a decision to Jimmy
Young. In his next bout Joe Bugner stopped him in two.
Finally on August 14, 1975, Jose got a rematch with Ken
Norton. At this time Norton was the top heavyweight
contender. They met in St. Paul; MN and this time Kenny
took all Garcia could throw at him and eventually wore
Jose down and stopped him in the fifth round of a tough
fight. Even in defeat Garcia proved he was still world
The only year that I was
able to attend the
Hall Of Fame ceremonies
was in June of 1998.
That year one of my
favorites was inducted.
His name is Miguel
Canto. He fought in an
era that produced so
many wonderful boxers
from 140 pounds on down.
How many of these
"little guys" are truly
remembered today ? At
super lightweight you
had the legendary
Antonio Cervantes. There
was also a youthful
boxer who stopped in at
140 for a short time.
Just long enough to
outbox the great
Cervantes and take his
title. That of course
would be Wilfred
Benitez. There were
other fine fighters at
140 lbs. Guys like Billy
Costello, Saoul Mamby,
Leroy Haley, Bruce Curry
and the one and only
Roberto Duran dominated
the lightweight world
for eight long years.
Only Esteban DeJesus was
able to really hang with
DeJesus was a great
fighter in his own
right. In the 130 pound
weight class only one
name sticks out,ARGUELLO.
Alexis literally wiped
out that division. After
Arguello moved up in
weight. Four of his past
opponents would garner a
piece of the title. Boza
Navarette, Rafael Limon
and Bobby Chacon all
stepped up after Alexis
moved on. Too bad Alexis
didn't move up to
lightweight a little
sooner. We as fans may
have had a chance to see
Duran -Arguello !
division was rich with
Saldivar helped bridge
the gap between the 60's
and 70's. Danny "Little
Red" Lopez was a thrill
a minute champion and
Eusebio Pedroza laid
claim to the crown. The
real star though was
Salvador Sanchez. It is
amazing to see how much
he accomplished before
his tragic death at the
age of 22. The bastard
122 pound weight
division showcased the
great talents of
Wilfredo Gomez. The
gave us Japan's favorite
son Fighting Harada
along with the
outstanding Eder Jofre.
Then there was the
murderous punching Ruben
Olivares along with his
great adversary Chucho
Castillo. Then there was
Rafael Herrera and
Rodolfo Martinez. Later
came the "Z Bombers"
Carlos Zarate and
Alfonso Zamora. Add in
Jeff Chandler and Lupe
Pintor and you can see
it was the most loaded
division of this era.
Last but far from least
were the true little
guys of the game. The
with three time
Kingpetch, the title
changed hands rather
often. Chartchai Chionoi
was another dominant
flyweight title holder.
In another tragedy,
Masao Ohba had a very
bright future before his
untimely death. Miguel
Canto was one of the
best boxers I've ever
seen but the competition
was fierce and boxers
like Betulio Gonzalez
made their mark during
this time period too.
LIGHTWEIGHT CONTENDER JOHNNY LIRA PASSES
AWAY AT 61
The city of Chicago has produced its
share of outstanding professional
fighters. One of them was a tough as
nails lightweight who campaigned in the
late 1970′s and early 1980′s. His name
was Johnny Lira and he fought his way
into the top echelon of the lightweight
rankings. Johnny passed away Saturday at
the age of 61.
Lira turned pro in 1976 and quickly
gained notice by winning his first
twelve fights. In 1977 he drew with
Manuel Lopez but defeated Lopez in a
return bout. Johnny hit the big time in
1978 when he received a shot at the
United States Boxing Association
lightweight title. His opponent was the
highly ranked southpaw bomber Andy
Ganigan. Johnny was a decided underdog
going in but he shocked the boxing
establishment by stopping Ganigan in
round six. Lira then went to New York’s
Madison Square Garden to outscore the
talented Larry Stanton. Lira was now
high i n the ratings and in 1979 he
received a shot at the World Boxing
Association’s version of the lightweight
title. Their champion was a hard-hitting
bomber from Venezuela named Ernesto
Espana. It was a gruelling fight but
Espana emerged victorious stopping
Johnny in nine rounds. Lira would suffer
a broken jaw for his gallant effort.
In 1980 Johnny traveled to Spain and
dropped an eight round decision to
Andoni Amana. He would later lose a ten
round duke to the flashy Howard Davis
Jr. In 1981 Lira would post a ten round
win over Ohio’s rugged Bobby Plegge.
Johnny was then outdueled over ten
rounds by Nicky Furlano and the was
stopped in nine rounds by Willie
Rodriguez for the USBA super lightweight
title.Lira regrouped in 1982 scoring a
points verdict over Canadian Al Ford.
Johnny then lost a tough call to former
world champion Alfredo Escalera. Lira
would come back to win four fights but
in 1984 he lost a ten rounder to Russell
Mitchell. That was his last fight.
Lira hung them up with a fine record of
29-7-1. He scored fifteen knockouts.
Johnny himself was stopped on two
occasions. May he rest in peace.
WHO'S YOUR DADDY Part
II : Monzon- Benvenuti
By Jim Amato:
Nino Benvenuti may be considered among
the best amateur boxers of all time. He had a great
professional career too. His first loss was on a highly
disputed decision to Ki Soo Kim. He would win two out of
three in a legendary middleweight trilogy with the
Eventually though his star would diminish..
There was a non title draw in 1968 against Akron, Ohio's
rugged Doyle Baird. It was a fight many thought Doyle
won. Then came a loss to the terrific Dick Tiger. Then a
life and death DQ win over Fraser Scott. Nino was then
cut and on the verge of losing before he landed a left
hook on slick Luis Rodriguez to retain his title. In
Nino's next bout he was halted by Tom " The Bomb "
Bethea. Benvenuti had obviously under rated Bethea the
first time around as he whipped Tom good in a rematch.
Still you could see Nino was not the fighter of days
In November of 1970 enter Argentina's Carlos Monzon. A
disputed draw against the feared Bennie Briscoe earned
Carlos a rating. Still Carlos was not considered a
serious challenge to Nino's crown. WRONG !!! Maybe Nino
was on the downside of his fabulous career. Maybe a
prime Benvenuti would have fared better against Monzon
In my opinion Nino is lucky he met Monzon when he did.
Any sooner would have resulted in the end of Nino' s
title reign. Make no mistake about it folks, Carlos'
style owned Nino.
Benvenuti could not intimidate Monzon. Carlos could have
cared less about Nino's complaints to the referee. To
Monzon it was a street fight with a few rules. He mugged
Nino. Along the eighth, ninth and tenth rounds Nino
realized his dilemma. He could not hurt Carlos and he
could not deter his aggressiveness. He knew he was
doomed. Give Nino his due. He was a proud champion and
he would go out on his shield. That is just what he did
in round twelve as a Monzon right left him in a heap.
Nino's title was gone.
Again a case can be made that Nino was past his prime.
In his next fight he lost a decision to Monzon's
countryman Jose Chirino. Still Monzon-Benvenuti II took
place. This was child's play for Carlos as he dominated
Nino until the fight was stopped in the third round.
There is no doubt in my mind that Nino would have lost
to Carlos anytime they fought.