For an island with about 4 million residents, Puerto Rico must churn out more top flight boxers per capita than anywhere else on the planet. There is a long list of all-time great Puerto Rican boxers, but this list will look at a narrower time frame of the 1990s and beyond. Here is a look at the top 5 Puerto Rican boxers from the last 20 years. Did your favorite Puerto Rican fighter make the cut?
1. Felix Trinidad – 42 (35) – 3 – Whether or not you’re a Puerto Rican, if you were a boxing fan in the 1990s then you can still hear legions of Trindad’s supporters ecstatically chanting for their idol, Tito, Tito, Tito… After winning his welterweight championship from Maurice Blocker he would defend the strap 15 times, including a controversial win over Oscar De La Hoya and unquestionable victories over Pernell Whitaker, Yory Boy Campas, Hector Camacho and Oba Carr.
He captured the junior middleweight crown against David Reid and viciously knocked out Fernando Vargas in 2000. His middleweight days were far less successful, winning a strap against William Joppy but being stopped by Bernard Hopkins. He would come back to beat Ricardo Mayorga, but would then lose decisively against Winky Wright.
2. Wilfredo Vazquez – 56 (41) – 9 – 2 – Wilfredo Vazquez won a championship in his second division, super bantamweight, in 1992 against Raul Perez. He would go on to defend his WBA strap nine times and eventually move up to featherweight. There he again held the WBA strap, this time making four successful defenses before losing to an undefeated Prince Naseem Hamed.
3. Miguel Cotto – 34 (27) – 1 *Still active – Miguel Cotto is a two division world champion with many successful title defenses. At junior welterweight he defended his version of the belt six times before winning a welterweight title against fellow Puerto Rican Carlos Quintana and besting Zab Judah and Shane Mosley. He suffered a devastating setback against Antonio Margarito, rebounded with a win over Joshua Clottey and is now slated to face pound for pound champion Manny Pacquiao.
4. Hector Camacho – 79 (38) – 5 – 3 – We jump into Camacho’s career already past his best work during his lightweight days, and in time for him to win his junior welterweight title against Ray Mancini. He defended the title several times before losing it to and winning it back from Greg Haugen. He then lost bouts against Julio Cesar Chavez and fellow Puerto Rican great Felix Trinidad. His career technically is still continuing but there hasn’t been much merit to it since a blowout loss to Oscar De La Hoya in 1997.
5. Ivan Calderon – 32 (6) – 0 – 1 *Still active – The Iron Boy is only undone by his stature. He has spent his career in the tiny minimum weight and junior flyweight divisions. If he was ten pounds heavier, his combined 15 title defenses in two weight classes without a defeat would have him hailed as one of the best fighters of his generation, regardless of weight class. Instead he’s a name most people, including casual boxing fans, are completely unfamiliar with.
There you have it for the top 5 Puerto Rican boxers of the last 20 years, spanning the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s. In just a few years time, a fighter such as Juan Manuel Lopez may just catapult himself to one of the top spots on this list of great Puerto Rican boxers.