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Jorge Vaca-The Upsetter


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Jorge Vaca, the name almost nobody remembers, yet this guy holds victories over Lloyd Honeyghan, Mark Breland, Pipino Cuevas and Quincy Taylor! His career was really one of a kind, as he retired with 26 losses and lost all his other important fights, but still managed to win the WBC belt and score wins over those guys-even pulling it off twice against Taylor. At 5’10 and half, he was a tall welterweight who also had good power in both hands, but was also chinny and wasn’t hard to knock out for anyone with enough power. 

Jorge Vaca Duenas was born 14 December 1959 in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city. He became a pro on 10 February 1978 and knocked out Jose Luis Piceno in 2 rounds. He scored three more knockout wins, before he lost his first fight by KO3 to Rodolfo Valero. He would again suffer a ko loss to Valero in the rematch, this time in 5 rounds. After losing to Juan Elizondo by KO7 in February of ‘81, he went on a winning streak and scored ten straight knockouts. He then again got knocked out in 8 by Tomas Perez, June of ‘83 and later by Herman Montes in 2, September of ‘84, before he again started winning. He avenged the loss to Montes and stopped him by TKO3 in May ‘85. On 19 December ‘86, he took on the famed former world champion and ko artist Pipino Cuevas, now past his best, and easily knocked him out in 2 rounds. On 21 August ‘87, he beat former WBC light welterweight champion Saoul Mamby by UD10, in Tijuana, Mexico.

This victory gave him a crack at the WBC welterweight belt that was held by Lloyd Honeyghan, then undefeated at 31-0 and considered the best welterweight in the world after dismantling Donald Curry to become undisputed champion, but since then he had vacated fhe WBA belt and the IBF belt was not at stake since British Boxing Board refused to deal with them because they still arranged 15-rounders. Honeyghan at 5’8 was somewhat shorter than Vaca, but was very fast and agile and had power too. The fight was staged on Wembley in London, on 28 October of ‘87 and Vaca surprised everyone by giving the champion a much harder fight than expected. After 7 rounds, Vaca was ahead on two scorecards when the fight was stopped after he got badly cut by an accidental butt and the fight went to the scorecards-the Mexican underdog was pronounced the winner and new WBC champion by a split technical decision! It was an upset of gigantic proportions. Honeyghan also lost a point for that headbutt, despite it being considered accidental. 

Because of this controversy, a rematch was mandated and happened on 29 March ‘88, again at Wembley. This time, things didn’t go so well and Vaca was cut in the first round by a punch on the eyebrow. It might have been the same place where he got badly cut in the first fight. Honeyghan started landing more in the second round but Vaca fought back and landed some of his own punches. In the third, they exchanged furiously with Vaca on the ropes when Honeyghan suddenly landed a big right to the body which sent Vaca down and he wasn’t able to get up in time. That was the end of his champion days. He then got to fight for the IBF belt in his next fight, which was stripped from Honeyghan for losing to Vaca and Simon Brown then won it. Brown was making his first defense at home in Kingston, Jamaica, on 16 July that same 1988. He just proved too strong for Vaca and put him down once in the first, four times in the second and finally once again in the third before Vaca was finished. 

It seems problems making 147 contributed to another early ko loss, for Vaca moved up to 154 after that and found himself fighting a future great, Terry Norris, in his first fight there. They fought in Tijuana on the 9 of October 1989 and Vaca lost by a split decision but gave a good account of himself against a younger and technically superior, as well as faster, Norris. He then won three easier fights by stoppage before fighting the young and promising Texan Quincy Taylor on 8 October 1990 in Inglewood and winning by a technical decision in 6. They had a rematch on 6 March next year, again in Inglewood, and Vaca won by a wide UD10. He then faced the former two-time welterweight champion Mark Breland, who had lost his WBA belt in 1989. It was on 13 September in Sacramento that Vaca made his last great upset; after first getting cut and bloodied early on, he rebounded in round 6 and hurt Breland with a big left hook and then hit him with over 20 punches on the ropes to get a TKO win. This effectively ended Breland’s comeback attempt at 154. 

In his next fight however, he faced the young Roy Jones Jr on 10 January ‘92 in New York and got blown out in one round. He would lose all his other important fights after that but kept fighting until late 2002, when he was knocked out in 2 rounds by Jose Luis Cruz. He had also been knocked out in 7 previously by non-puncher Cory Spinks, showing how much his punch resistance had gone down. He was 43 when he retired, with a record of 65 wins, 50 by ko, 26 losses and 2 draws.

Jorge Vaca was a capable fighter who was somewhat of an overachiever in the sense that he beat better fighters than himself, showing one should never underestimate a determined guy, no matter his skill level. In boxing, anything can happen. He was one of few Mexicans to win a world title at 147. As such, he meant a lot to his country back then in the late 80’s. He was there to slug it out and most his fights ended in a knockout, either for him or against him. 


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I was at the Honeyghan rematch! I recall that on the first fight Lloyd had a bunch of out of the ring problems that affected his preparation. There was also a theory that with the WBC convention being in town they were eager to see a Mexican crowned hence the weird point deduction and baffling judging. 

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