Ted Sares takes a look at some of Colombia's best (and not-so-great) fighters, and the records they often inflated in their home country's rings.
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Juan Urango and Edison Miranda are Colombian bombers, but they did not inflate their record fighting in Colombia. Nor did Yonnhy Perez who has never fought in his country of birth. Chill-or-be-chilled Alejandro "Naco" Berrio (29-5) has fought 34 times and only one fight went the distance. However, these are the exceptions.
Numbers Don't Lie
Many fans question the records of Colombian fighters as being inflated, and oftentimes rightly so For example, when Wilfrido "Willy" Valdez went up against Hugo Fidel Cazares in Las Vegas in 2007, his record was a formidable 23-1-3 with all but one fight in Colombia. With the WBO light flyweight title at stake, Cazares made short work of Valdez stopping him in two. Willy would lose his next three in The U.S. all by early KO and then return to Colombia where he waxed a fighter with a 0-1 mark in four rounds. His record is now 24-5-3. Another example is Fray Luis Sierra who was 14-2-0 until he took his show on the road and then went 1-16 as he began fighting outside of Colombia. Having lost 15 in a row, he finished with a 15-18 mark.
Louis "El Monstruito" Bolano was 41-1 when he fought outside of Colombia for only the fifth time against Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson in Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut. He was iced in four. Since then, he has lost eleven in a row, ten of which have been in the U.S.
Ever Beleno was 37-2 when he ventured to the Forum in LA to fight Hector Velazquez in 1997. Curiously, all of his wins except one were in Colombia; his two losses were in South Korea and the U.K. After being stopped by Velasquez, he went 1-10 with his last five losses coming in the U.S.
Prudencio Cardona was 21-3 when he lost to Luis "El Naja" Ibarra in June 1979. All but one of his bouts had been in Colombia. He then became something of a road warrior fighting in South Korea, Miami, Panama, Mexico, Argentina, Jamaica, Spain, and Puerto Rico. However, he finished with a 40-23-1 mark reflecting the difficulties of fighting on foreign soil. Finally, Juan Polo Perez did most of his early work in the friendly confines of his home country and was 27-5-2, but when he hit the road, bad things happened. He fought the very best out there and his record showed as much as he went 19-41-2 fighting just about everywhere and losing 23 of his last 24 outings. His final slate was a curious 46-46-4. However, Perez was no cherry picker!
Moises Pedroza was 14-0 when he ventured to Atlantic City and got waxed by "Fast Eddie" Hopson. He then went back to Colombia and went 7-1-1 before returning to North America where he lost two to Steve Forbes and Billy Irwin, respectively. He promptly hightailed it back to Barranquilla and ran off four quick KOs, but then made the mistake of returning to the U.S. where he finished his career losing his last eight in a row. His record reveals he was 25-1-1 with 22 wins coming by way of stoppage. However, when fighting outside of Colombia, he was 0-11.
Reynaldo "The Doberman" Hurtado was more bark than bite when he fought outside of Colombia where his record was 0-11 contrasted with a 36-3-1 mark inside his homeland. Euclides Espitia is 21-21-1. He is 19-3-1 in Colombia but 2-18 outside of Colombia.
The Flip Side
The assumption that Colombian records are inflated can sometimes prove misleading and even dangerous. When Miguel "El Huracan" Barrera met Roberto Carlos "Mako" Leyva in Mexico in 2001, he was 20-0-1 with all of his fights being held in Colombia. Mako was 19-0 at the time. With the IBF minimum weight title at stake, the bout ended in a draw, but Barrera was now seen as someone who could duke. He then won the title from Leya a year later and punctuated the win with KO o of Mako in 2003. These later two bouts were in Las Vegas. Victor Polo (37-5-3) had good success after leaving Colombia with a fine 23-1-2 mark. He won high-profile fights in Venezuela, Boston and New York City, drew with Scott Harrison in a bid for the WBO featherweight title in Scotland, and lost a UD to rugged Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas. At stake were the WBA Super World featherweight title and the IBF featherweight title.
Luis Enrique Mendoza was a global road warrior of sorts and did his work in many different countries finishing with a fine 38-7-2 record the highlight of which was his defeat of Ruben Dario Palacios in Miami in 1990 to win the vacant WBA Ordinary World super bantamweight title. He successfully defended it in France, Thailand, and Spain before losing it to Raul "Jibaro" Perez in 1991 at the Forum in Inglewood, California. He would go on to duke in Panama, France, Mexico, Venezuela, The Netherlands, and the U.S capturing the WBA Fedelatin featherweight title along the way.
Richard "La Lámina" Gutierrez was 18-0 when he first fought outside the comfortable confines of Colombia and promptly TKOd Luis Alberto Santiago in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He then beat Edson Aguirre and Hicklet Lau in New York City and Pompano Beach, respectively, but lost an MD to rugged Joshua Clottey in California. In 2007, he sent Teddy "Two Gun" Reid into retirement with a savage fourth round KO, but a year later was stopped in Nevada by streaking Mexican Alfredo "Perro" Angulo. After a draw with Jerome Ellis again in Nevada, he lost a UD to underrated Antwone Smith in Miami Beach. "La Lámina" remains in the light middleweight mix and atypically fights in many different locales outside of Colombia.
Miguel Cotto, Kelly Pavlik, Giovanni Segura and Amir Khan may have made spurious assumptions about the records of Colombian fighters as each either hit the canvas or was severely tested. Cotto (against Torres) and Pavlik (against Zúñiga) overcame adversity and at the end proved their mettle, but Segura (against Cesar Canchila the first time) and Khan (against Breidis Prescott) ate some serious and decisive leather. Jeff Lacy didn't fully appreciate the danger of Epifanio Mendoza's 67.57 KO percentage or the fact that "Diamante" had done well fighting outside of Colombia. The great Lupe Pintor was shocked in Miami in 1994 when he was outpointed by unknown Colombian Fernando Caicedo in a bout for the WBC FECARBOX lightweight title.
On balance, however, it seems prudent to be quite skeptical when assessing a Colombian boxer's chances while fighting outside of his homeland.