Editorials

Ranking the Top 10 Welterweights of All Time

4. Jose Napoles
(81-7, 55 KO)

Jose Napoles

“Mantequilla” had one of the smoothest styles for a boxer-puncher, thus nicknamed the Spanish equivalent of butter.

Turning pro in 1958, the young Cuban won his first fight with a one-punch knockout. When Fidel Castro banned pro boxing in Cuba, Napoles fled to Mexico to continue his pro career. Having already amassed an impressive record of 48-4, with 28 KOs, it was in 1967 that Napoles begin fighting at 147 pounds.

Two years later in 1969, the boxing world took notice of Napoles and he finally got his overdue title shot against rival and future Hall of Fame fighter, Curtis Cokes. Napoles defeated Cokes by knockout in the 13th round. He defended the title three times–one of which was against Hall of Famer Emile Griffith–before facing top 10 contender and rival Billy Backus, who dethroned him via fourth round knockout.

In the rematch, Napoles regained the title with an eighth-round TKO. Napoles defended the welterweight title six more times before making an attempt at Carlos Monzon’s middleweight crown. Monzon stopped Napoles in the seventh, but Napoles still remained welterweight king.

He went on to defend the title four more times against top contenders, bringing his count of successful title defenses at welterweight to 10. In his 11th defense in 1975, he was dethroned by John Stracey and decided to call it a career.

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