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Forgotten Champions: Sergio Victor Palma


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One of the few Argentinian world champions in the 80's, Sergio Victor Palma won the WBA super bantam title in 1980 in an upset knockout against Leo Randolph and defended it five times in a reign that lasted almost 2 years. Despite that, he is basically unknown today, outside of his country. This is why I chose to include him in my Forgotten Champions-series.


The 5'4 Palma was born 1 January 1956 in La Tigra, Chaco province, Argentina. He started fighting as a pro in January 1976, right after turning 20. He won 8 fights and drew 2 before losing to Felix Gonzalez on points in March 1977. On 12 September that year he first beat the 61-8-6 Jose Teodomiro Casas by TKO 8 in an eliminator for the national super bantam title before winning the title by decision against Arnoldo Aguero on 15 October. He also won the bantamweight version of the same title against the same guy, but chose to concentrate on super bantam division and vacated it. He defended his title five times before winning the South American version by KO 3 against Miguel Angel Lobera, 9 November 1979. He then challenged for the WBA title against the Colombian champion Ricardo Cardona and faced him in his hometown of Barranquilla on 15 December that year. He lost a close unanimous decision to the clever Cardona. He then won two easy fights before he got the chance against the man who had beaten Cardona: Leo Randolph of USA. The fight was 9 August 1980 at the Coliseum in Spokane, Washington state, where Randolph lived. Palma flew at the champion from the opening bell and hurt him after only ten seconds by a right to the jaw which staggered Randolph. Randolph was down twice in that round and was battered around the ring in the second, but came back in the next two rounds. In the fifth, Palma regained control and put him down and out with two hard punches. He thus entered history as he became the first Argentinian super bantam world champion.


Palma defended it first against Ulises Morales, unremarkable contender from Panama, winning by TKO 9. He then faced the Dominican Leonardo Cruz and won by a clear UD in his next defense in April '81. He got his revenge against Ricardo Cardona when they fought in August that year and Palma prevailed by TKO 12 after being clearly ahead on all scorecards. He rounded out the year by decisioning the 6-0-1 Thai challenger Vichit Muangroi-et by UD. He opened 1982 well, winning on 15 January against the former bantamweight WBA champion Jorge Lujan in a competitive fight, by a close but unanimous decision. After one non-title fight, he then again faced Leonardo Cruz in his sixth defense, 12 June at Convention Center in Miami Beach. His first fight in USA since winning the belt would prove unlucky, as he lost to Cruz after 15 rounds with the scores of 144-147, 143-146 and 140-149. After that Palma returned to fighting at home, against national-level competition and would never regain his former stature. He was stopped for the first and the only time in his career by Juan Domingo Malvarez, former Eusebio Pedroza and Danny Lopez challenger, by KO 6 on 4 June 1983. He then drew one fight and won two before retiring in 1990, aged 34.


Sadly, some time after retirement, Palma's health worsened and in 2014 he had to have a surgery due to problems connected to hypertension. He recuperated however and is still alive today, turning 63 this January. He was a hard hitter who could box and a never say die fighter, like many other famous Argentinian boxers. In 1990 he was awarded the Argentinian Konex award for his services to sport. Like Diego Maradona, he is of Gaucho (half-Indigenous half-Spanish) heritage.

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