Seven recent memorable fights between Mexican top fighters

Erik Morales, left, and Marco Antonio Barrera, both from Mexico, fought one of the best trilogies in boxing history. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Canelo Alvarez and Jaime Munguia will face each other at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, which could add another chapter to the book of battles between top Mexican fighters. This fight in particular has created a lot of interest since it is being contested for the undisputed super middleweight championship.

Recently, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said that the fight between Alvarez and Munguia could begin a memorable trilogy.

"Erik Morales with [Marco Antonio] Barrera, Rafael Marquez with Israel Vazquez, 'El Puas' [Ruben Olivares] with Chucho Castillo, [Carlos] Zarate-[Alfonso] Zamora, which was only one fight," noted Sulaiman during the presentation of the special Tamaulipas Belt that the WBC will award to the winner of the fight. "There are so many battles represented between Mexican boxers that it is difficult to choose one. But today we can start with the Canelo-Munguia trilogy because it has all the elements to make it so."

It is difficult to think about a trilogy when we still don't know what we will see in their first fight, and mentioning the word "battle" seems even more adventurous since Alvarez is a -550 favorite per ESPN BET.

Throughout history, we have witnessed great fights between Mexican fighters. Raul "Raton" Macías fought Fili Nava with two bouts that went the distance in 1954. Also unforgettable is the incredible rivalry that led former boxing gym teammates, Zarate, 25 at the time, and Zamora, 23, both undefeated bantamweight champions, to face each other in 1977.

The great Julio Cesar Chavez built his legendary career from a tough battle against Mario "Azabache" Martinez to win the WBC junior lightweight title in 1984.

But what have been the great recent battles between two top Mexican fighters?

Erik Morales vs. Marco Antonio Barrera trilogy

This is not only one of the most remembered trilogies in Mexican boxing, but in the boxing world. Morales and Barrera gave fans 36 rounds of punches, action and controversy. Barrera took two of those fights, but for many -- including me -- Morales deserved at least one more victory. Every time two Mexicans get into the ring, one expects the level of intensity that Morales and Barrera gave us throughout those three battles, of which two ended up being recognized as Ring Magazine's Fight of the Year (the first and the third).

Rafael Marquez vs. Israel Vazquez quadrilogy

This rivalry became one of the most remembered quadrilogies in boxing history. Between 2007 and 2010, we enjoyed four Marquez vs. Vazquez matches (2-2 tie), with three ending by KO. In the first fight, Marquez scored a seventh-round stoppage, Vazquez took the next bout with a sixth-round controversial stoppage and the third by a close split decision (114-111 for Marquez, 114-111 and 113-112 for Vazquez). But in the fourth battle, Marquez ended the rivalry by destroying the "Magnificent" in three rounds.

Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Marco Antonio Barrera

There didn't seem to be any bad blood between both fighters, but everything changed in the seventh round when, in the final seconds, Barrera knocked down "Dinamita" at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas in 2007. However, when Marquez had his gloves on the canvas, Barrera landed a blow to his head, which cost him a one-point deduction. Marquez took the victory by a wide unanimous decision (116-111, 116-111, 118-109) and with it the WBC junior lightweight title.

Francisco Vargas vs. Orlando Salido

Vargas had just knocked out Takashi Miura in ESPN's Fight of the Year in 2015. "Siri" was already a solid champion on his way to retirement, but he still had a great battle to fight in the ring. In a true back-and-forth from start to finish, both fighters threw 2,123 punches in total, according to CompuBox, but somehow managed to stay standing the entire bout, which was declared a draw at the end. Although it was chosen as ESPN Fight of the Year in 2016, the rematch never came to fruition.

Canelo Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

This fight between two of the most popular names of that time created a lot of expectations among Mexican fans: Alvarez, a rising champion, against the son of a legend. Unfortunately, in the ring, the show did not live up to expectations. Alvarez delivered a beatdown of Chavez during 12 rounds, with Chavez trying to do everything possible not to be knocked out. In the end, the three judges' cards were a resounding 120-108 in favor of Alvarez. This fight was more significant in the buildup than the bout itself.

Oscar Valdez vs. Emanuel "Vaquero" Navarrete

Emanuel Navarrete wins instant classic vs. Oscar Valdez

Emanuel Navarrete comes out victorious in a 12-round classic vs. Oscar Valdez in Arizona.

After losing his WBC junior lightweight belt to Shakur Stevenson in April 2022, Valdez challenged "Vaquero" for the WBO title in August 2023. The result was a 12-round master class from start to finish by the champion. Valdez could not figure out Navarrete and ended up suffering the second defeat of his career by a wide unanimous decision (119-109, 118-110 and 116-112). The victory solidified Navarrete as one of the best Mexican champions of today.

Oscar Valdez vs. Miguel "Alacran" Berchelt

The perfect ingredients. Valdez, an undefeated fighter in his third fight at junior lightweight after resigning three years as a featherweight champion with six successful defenses, against a solid champion in Berchelt with six successful defenses of his WBC junior lightweight belt. The result was a back-and-forth battle that ended in the 10th round with a spectacular KO by Valdez, who, after connecting with the chin of Berchelt, sent him face-first to the canvas.