When mentioning Mexican greats, most automatically think of Chavez, Sanchez, and Olivares. Yet before all of them came Vicente Saldivar, who was not only one of the greatest Mexican fighters of all time, but one of the best southpaws in the history of the sport.
The first notable win over Saldivar's career was no easy one...he was matched up against the highly regraded HOF fighter Ismael Laguna. After a close battle, Saldivar upset the 34-1 Laguna, winning a 10 round decision and earning him a title shot. Less than a year later, Laguna would become Lightweight champion by defeating the ATG Carlos Ortiz.
Saldivar's title shot would be against the HOF Cuban featherweight Sugar Ramos. After a grueling fight over 10 rounds and a furious attack in the 11th, Ramos could not come out of his corner for the 12th round, awarding Saldivar the TKO win and the undisputed featherweight championship.
In his first title defense Saldivar went up against the undefeated top ten rated featherweight, Raul Rojas. Though Rojas made it to the 15th round, he was beaten throughout, and was finished off by an accumulation of punches that forced the referee to stop the fight. Rojas would go on to win a vacant WBA title strapa few years later.
Saldivar's next fight would begin his rivalry with Britain's Howard Winstone, who was one of the top 5 fighters in the division. Going to his opponents backyard, Saldivar had trouble with the clever boxing Winstone, but was able to win a 15 round decision with a consistant attack.
Next up was Ghana's top ten rated Floyd Robertson, who had earlier given previous champ Sugar Ramos trouble, dropping him but losing a decision. Vicente had no problems with Robertson at all however, rocking him early in the 2nd with a left hand and dropping him with a right hook. After an attack to the body and head, Robertson was put away with a short right hook to the jaw, ending the bout.
Saldivar's next title defense came against the OPBF champion, top 3 rated featherweight Mitsunori Seki. Saldivar defeated him twice in a row, once by 15 round decision and then again more convincingly by 7th round TKO.
In his last title defenses, Saldivar faced off against old opponent Harold Winstone, who had risen back up in the rankings. Saldivar again went to Britain to defend his title, and again defeated Winstone by decision, almost finishing him in the 14th round when Vicente trapped Winstone on the ropes. Saldivar came back and finished the job in a rematch 4 months later, when Winstone was dropped in the 12th and was taking enough punishment for his corner to throw in the towel. A mere 3 months later after this beating, Winstone won the vacant WBC strap.
After his series with Winstone, Saldivar would retire at a very young 24 years old, after 7 years of fighting professionally. Within two years Vicente would come out of retirement to face off against the number one rated featherweight in the world, Jose Legra, who had been featherweight champ a year before. Suffering from ring rust, Saldivar was hit early and put down in the 3rd round, but came back in the 4th with a prolonged body attack. By the 9th round Saldivar was staggering Legra and almost had the knockout in the 10th, but ran out of time since the fight was only 10 rounds. With this win, Saldivar got the opportunity to regain the featherweight crown. Legra would win the WBC featherweight title a few years later.
Saldivar's title shot came against Australia's Johnny Famechon, who had won the title from Legra and was coming off of two wins over the HOF former bantamweight champion Fighting Harada. Vicente successfully regained the featherweight title with a 15 round decision over the clever boxing Famechon. However, Saldivar lost his title in his first title defense against Japan's Kuniaki Shibata, retiring again after the 11th round. He half heartedly tried a comeback 3 years later against Eder Jofre, but got nowhere, and he finally settled into retirement permanently.
Notable victories over: