By Jeffrey “Italian Medallion” Cellini
Two Hall-of-Fame fighters. Two great featherweight champions. Both held a share of throne at the same time. Unfortunately, they never faced each other in the ring to determine who was better. Which of these two legends had the more accomplished career?
Salvador Sanchez, 44-1-1, 32 KO’s was a complete fighter who possessed speed, power and excellent counter-punching skills. Sanchez won the WBC Featherweight Championship by stopping Danny Lopez in thirteen rounds on February 2, 1980.
Besides defeating Lopez again in a rematch, Sanchez defended his title against Ruben Castillo (47-1), Patrick Ford (16-0), and Juan LaPorte. In his biggest challenge, against unbeaten Hall of Famer Wilfredo Gomez, Sanchez scored a stoppage win in the 8th round. Two more defenses would follow, before Sanchez stopped future great Azumah Nelson in the 15th round in his final fight. Tragically killed in an automobile accident in the prime of his career, the Mexican great was never able to add his legacy. Sanchez was 10-0 in world title fights.
Eusebio Pedroza, 44-6-1, 25 KO’s, who was a hard puncher and aggressive boxer, won the WBA World Featherweight title by defeating Cecilio Lastra by technical knockout in the 13th round on April 15, 1978. He would go on to score a record-setting 19 defenses–mostly against very solid competition. The Panamanian scored high-quality wins included Patrick Ford, Juan LaPorte, and Bernard Taylor. Despite a 2nd round knockout loss to bantamweight titleholder Alfonso Zamora in his first attempt for the crown, and then another knockout defeat in the following contest, Pedroza was able to claim the featherweight belt just three fights later. “El Alacran” finally lost his title in England, being defeated by Northern Ireland’s Barry McGuigan in London by a 15-round decision in his 20th defense.
In a head-to-head clash, Sanchez likely endures Pedroza’s dirty tactics and secures a split decision victory. “El Alacran” would surprise the Mexican early with his power and win most of the early rounds. However, Sanchez, who was a strong finisher in the championship rounds, would rock the Panamanian late in the contest.
Salvador Sanchez rates slightly ahead of Eusebio Pedroza as the better fighter, but Pedroza’s 19 title defenses make him the more accomplished of the two all-time great fighters.Contact the Feature Writers