The late Alexis Arguello was one of the greatest offensive machines in the history of boxing. 'El Flaco Explosivo' had a dynamite right hand, killer body shots, and could put together combinations that could take down almost any fighter that stood in front of him. He had success over 4 weight classes, beating a host of high level competition.
Arguello's first notable victory came in 1973, when he faced off against former featherweight champ Jose Legra. Earlier that year, Legra was considered the best featherweight in the world and had controversially lost to the ATG Eder Jofre in Jofre's backyard of Brazil. Arguello had no such controversy in beating Legra, by quickly KOing him in the 1st round, earning him a title shot.
Unfortunately, Arguello's first title shot would not go his way. The talented Ernesto Marcel of Panama was able to be a terrible style matchup for the 21 year old Arguello, and was able to potshot his way to a close decision victory.
Arguello immediately jumped back into title contention with a KO over top 3 rated Art Hafey, blasting him to the body in the 5th round only 3 months after his loss to Marcel.
Arguello again got his shot at the WBA featherweight title, this time against Mexican ATG Ruben Olivares. After taking punishment from the power punching Olivares over 12 rounds, Arguello hurt Olivares with a perfect left hook and finished the job, awarding him the 13th round knockout. Olivares would gain the WBC title strap a few months later over HOF fighter Bobby Chacon.
First up for Arguello was Lionel Hernandez, consider one of the 3 best featherweights in the world. Going to Hernandez's backyard of Caracas, Arguello TKOed Hernandez in the 8th round.
Arguello would then quickly dispose of unranked Rigoberto Riasco by taking him out in the 2nd round. Riasco would go on to win the vacant WBC super bantamweight strap.
Next up was the top ten rated and undefeated featherweight Royal Kobayashi. Arguello put together combinations and a blistering body attack, finally ending the fight with a painful left hook to the body in the 5th round. Kobayashi would go on to win the WBC super bantamweight strap from former challenger Rigoberto Riasco.
After KOing Salvador Torres of Mexico, Arguello would briefly jump up to 130lbs to beat top ten rated Ezequiel Cocoa Sanchez by doctor stoppage in the 4th, and then go back to 125lbs to take on Alfredo Escalara, the WBC super featherweight champ in Puerto Rico. Escalara was considered the best super featherweight in the world, but was stopped in the 13th round on cuts after being decked early.
A surprising upset loss came to Arguello after his knockout title defenses against OPBF champ Rey Tam and Diego Alcala, when he moved up in weight to take on former Lightweight challenger Vilomar Fernandez. Fernandez was able to fight defensively and potshot Arguello, like Marcel leading to a close decision loss.
Arguello was back in the ring within 4 months against top ten rated Arturo Leon, whom he defeated by decision, and then followed up with a rematch against Escalara, who he again finished off in the 13th round.
Next up was the tough top 3 rated Rafael 'Bazooka' Limon, who would go 11 rounds before being stopped on cuts. Limon would twice win the WBC super featherweight belt in the future and have a classic fight against Bobby Chacon.
Arguello would close up the year by facing off against top 5 rated Bobby Chacon, who was stopped on cuts after being barraged by punches. Chacon would go on to become WBC super featherweight champ. After having a tough time with the 46-0 Mexican Ruben Castillo, who was rated highly at featherweight, Arguello would TKO him in the 11th round. Castillo would multiple times challenge for a title, but fall short against fighters like Julio Cesar Chavez, Salvador Sanchez, and Juan LaPorte. In his final title defense at 130lbs, Arguello would TKO Rolando Navarette in the 5th, who would become WBC super featherweight champ a year later.
Arguello then moved up to lightweight and first faced off against Cornelius Boza Edwards, who was well ranked at 130lbs. Edwards would become WBC super featherweight in the future. Arguello would then very controversially beat Jose Luis Ramirez over 10 rounds, with Arguello getting of the canvas in the 6th.
Arguello then challenged the highly rated Jim Watt for his WBC lightweight title in the UK, and was successful in a 15 round decision, with Watt being decked in the midrounds and taking a beating in the last rounds of the fight. Arguello would follow this victory with a 14th round TKO win over the 20-0 Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini, who would quickly become lightweight champ shortly after his loss to Arguello.
After knocking out Roberto Elizondo and James Busceme, Arguello would make his last title defense against top 3 rated Andrew Ganigan, who was fresh off his early round knockout over Sean O'Grady. Arguello was dropped in the first round, but came back to knock out Ganigan in a firefight. This was evidence that Arguello might have started slowing down.
Then came Arguello's most famous war against 140lb champion, Aaron Pryor. Over 13 brutal rounds Arguello fought evenly with Pryor, but after a late round surge Pryor came back from a slight point deficet to knock out Arguello in the 14th, in a battle that is considered one of the best of all time. Arguello would unsuccessfully try to win again in a rematch, but had faded too much due to the punishment of their last fight.
Most people assume Arguello's career was over, since Arguello was out of the ring for over 2 years. But Arguello attempted a brief comeback in 1985, and after an average win over Pat Jefferson was faced off against top 3 rated and former junior welterweight champ Billy Costello. Arguello was a punching bag for 3 rounds, but after trapping Costello on the ropes in the 4th dropped him with a perfect right hand. After rising unsteadily, Arguello would finish Costello off with an offensive assault. However, Arguello recongnised that he he didn't have much left, and retired again afte the victory.
Arguello didn't have a perfect record, but he faced a huge amount of high level competition and his power and offensive capabilities finish off almost any fighter. He was always in an entertaining fight, and his host of excellent wins puts him up there amongst many ATGs.
Ezequiel Cocoa Sanchez
Cornelius Boza Edwards