Editorials

Ranking the Top 10 Asian Boxers of All Time

5. Francisco Guilledo
(Pancho Villa)

Years Active: 1919-1925

Professional record: 77-4-4, 22 KOs

Titles: World Flyweight champion 1923-1925

Known to the boxing world as Pancho Villa, Francisco Guilledo stood only 5’1″ tall and never weighed more than 114 pounds. He rose from obscurity to become the first Asian to win the World Flyweight championship in 1923.

He was never knocked out in his entire boxing career, which ended tragically with his sudden death at the young age of 23 after complications following a tooth extraction.

Villa won various titles in the Philippines. Within a few months of his arrival in the United States, he scored an 11th round knockout of the American flyweight champion, Johnny Buff (John Lesky), in a non-title fight on September 15, 1922.

Villa won the Flyweight championship by knocking out the legendary Jimmy “Mighty Atom” Wilde of Wales in the seventh round on June 18, 1923.

He made several title defenses before his last fight, a non-title bout on July 4, 1925, when he lost a 10-round decision to Irish-born Canadian Jimmy McLarnin. 10 days later, Villa died from blood poisoning caused by an infected gum from where one of his wisdom teeth had been removed just prior to the fight.Villa lapsed into a coma and died the following day, July 14, 1925, 17 days before he would turn 24 years old.

Villa was inducted belatedly into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994. 33 years earlier, in October 1961, Villa was added by Ring Magazine to its own boxing hall of fame. He was ranked the 59th best fighter by the Ring Magazine’s writers in 2002 on their list of the 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years. He was voted as the No. 1 flyweight (along with Miguel Canto) of the 20th century by the Associated Press in 1999.

Villa had a short, but spectacular career. It would have been interesting if Villa could have enjoyed the sustained success of his meteoric rise had it not been for his untimely death.

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