The Five Greatest All-Mexican Showdowns of All Time

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A look back at some of the most memorable all-Mexico showdowns as Canelo Alvarez and Jaime Munguia seek to join that list when they throw down Saturday, May 4, in an epic Cinco De Mayo weekend event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in a PBC Pay-Per-View on Prime Video.

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Canelo vs. Munguia PREVIEW | May 4 | PBC PPV on Prime Video

When Undisputed Super Middleweight World Champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs) defends his crown against unbeaten former world champion Jaime Munguia (43-0, 34 KOs), there will be more than just belts on the line. 

Canelo-Munguia is set for Saturday, May 4, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, in a PBC Pay-Per-View live on Prime Video (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).  

Mexico vs. Mexico. Guadelajara vs. Tijuana. Cinco De Mayo weekend. 

Something much greater will be at stake when Canelo and Munguia square off: Backyard bragging rights. 

Alvarez, 33, will bring a deep reservoir of experience to offset the younger, taller, volume punching 27-year old Munguia. It’s the highest weight for a world championship contest between two Mexicans ever and, given the styles, the two can be expected to light up Las Vegas. 

But will their battle join some of the legendary showdowns between Mexican nationals that have added so much to the history of the sport? The bar for that will be high. While we wait to find out, here’s a look at the five greatest All-Mexican clashes of all time.  

5 Carlos Zarate TKO4 Alfonso Zamora

Date: April 23, 1977

Location: The Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California

At stake: Non-Title

Records: Zarate (45-0, 44 KOs); Zamora (29-0, 29 KOs)       

Summary: The lure of the knockout is one of boxing’s easiest selling points. Few matches ever made carried that lure more purely than this one. It was a showdown of the world’s two best bantamweights. Zarate held the WBC honors. Zamora reigned as the lineal and WBA king of the class. And yet, no titles were on the line. Opting to save money on sanctioning fees, they fought for the championship of each other just over the 118 pound limit. “The Battle of the Z Boys” featured four rounds of fevered action culminating when Zarate dropped Zamora three times in the fourth and Zamora’s corner threw in the towel. Zamora would never be the same, going 4-4 over the remainder of his career.   

4 Chucho Castillo TKO14 Ruben Olivares

Date: October 16, 1970

Location: The Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California

At stake: WBA & WBA Bantamweight World Titles

Records: Olivares (61-0-1, 57 KOs); Castillo (40-9-2, 20 KOs)

Summary: For Chucho Castillo, the third time was the charm. He’d come close to defeating Lionel Rose for the bantamweight crown in 1968, dropping the champion en route to losing a controversial split decision. In April 1970, Castillo dropped Olivares in the third but couldn’t keep “El Puas” at bay and lost a decision. Six months later, fortune smiled. Olivares was opened up in the first round and a bloody battle ensued. After thirteen rounds, two judges and referee Dick Young had it near deadlocked. Unable to stem the blood in the Olivares corner, Castillo forced the hand of the ringside doctor by targeting the wound, handing Olivares his first professional defeat. Olivares would win the rubber match in April 1971, but not before Castillo scored one more knockdown in their series.    

3 Marco Antonio Barrera MD12 Erik Morales

Date: November 27, 2004

Location: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada

At stake: WBC Super Featherweight World Title

Records: Barrera (58-4, 41 KOs); Morales (47-1, 34 KOs)

Summary: One of the great rivalries of the 21st century culminated in this epic rubber match, a consensus choice for 2004 Fight of the Year. They had met twice before. Their first fight (more on that shortly) was breathtaking. Their second was an interesting technical match that didn’t explode until late. Both decisions, the first for Morales and the second for Barrera, left fertile ground for debate. The year before, Barrera had suffered a beating at the hands of Manny Pacquiao and one could wonder whether he had the mettle for another go with “El Terrible.” In a fight that, in the ring, may have been the most dramatic of the series, both men took the measure of one another, escalating until a pulse-pounding eleventh round that was a popular choice for Round of the Year. Barrera did enough in the first eleven to win on points but punctuated his victory with a gutsy stand in the final round. Exhausted and arm weary, Barrera refused to submit to fatigue as Morales came on.  

2 Israel Vazquez SD12 Rafael Marquez

Date: March 3, 2008

Location: Home Depot Center, Carson, California

At stake: WBC Super Bantamweight World Title

Records: Vazquez (42-4, 31 KOs); Marquez (37-4, 33 KOs)

Summary: Another consensus choice for Fight of the Year, Vazquez and Marquez were squaring off for the third consecutive time. Their second fight had also seized honors in 2007 and their rivalry was unique in that every fight among their first three (a fourth is often forgotten) was better than the last. Each man entering having stopped the other and they’d exchanged the title twice. Marquez won the first, Vazquez the second, and fireworks ensued once again. After being dropped in each of the first two fights, Marquez leveled Vazquez in the fourth and they played a game of ‘can you top it’ from there, pushing each other through round after round of suffering. With seconds left in the final round, Vazquez dropped Marquez to secure the decision.

1 Erik Morales SD12 Marco Antonio Barrera

Date: February 19, 2000

Location: Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada

At stake: WBC & WBO Super Bantamweight World Titles

Records: Morales (35-0, 28 KOs); Barrera (49-2, 36 KOs)

Summary: In the year 2000, boxing gave fans De La Hoya-Mosley, Vargas-Quartey, and Trinidad-Vargas and yet this was the classic that stood above them all. The foursome of Morales, Barrera, Pacquiao, and Juan Manuel Marquez started here (even if we never did get that Morales-Marquez fight). Ring Magazine named it the greatest junior featherweight fight of all time in their 2002 80th anniversary issue. Barrera entered having won six since a pair of losses to Junior Jones. Morales was unbeaten. They combined for over 1400 punches thrown with several frames that could have been claimed as the best three minutes of boxing that year (round five ultimately got that nod from most). A late, controversial knockdown call against Morales added drama to the scoring and the debate was fuel for a rivalry for the ages. 

Given not only the action but also the impact it had on an entire fistic generation, it’s the greatest Mexican showdown of them all.

Alvarez and Munguia will have their work cut out for them to join this heady company. Given their styles and their nationalistic pride, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all. 

For a closer look at Canelo vs Munguia, check out their fight night page. 

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