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Mauro Mina-El Expreso de Chincha


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Mauro Mina was the finest boxer to come out of Peru. This light heavyweight contender of the late 50's and 60's is the only man to have bested Bob Foster at this weight. Foster would otherwise only lose to heavyweights for the rest of his career. Sadly, he never got a chance to win the world title and retired after 10 years as a pro, at the age of 32. He stood 5'11 1/2 and had a reach of 74 inches. Mina was not a knockout artist but he put Foster down once in their fight and stopped a few decent fighters, so he definitely had some power. He was a fine technical boxer and also bested the excellent Henry Hank in his prime. This is a short summary of his life and career.


He was born Mauro Mina Baylon, of Afro-Peruvian heritage, 22 November 1933 in Chincha, after which he was called "El Expreso de Chincha/The Chincha Express". Early on in his life, he experienced hardship and was a child worker, which later helped him develop a powerful physique. Mina was the middleweight champion at the 1952 Latin American Games which were hosted in Lima, capital of Peru. He turned professional in 1955 and won his first 6 fights before losing to Brazilian Luis Ignacio away in Brazil, by UD10. In their rematch in Lima, the fight ended as a draw. He was then matched against Dogomar Martinez of Uruguay for the South American light heavy title, once again fighting in his opponent's hometown of Montevideo, 11 October 1958. Mina dropped another decision, this time in 15 rounds. It took him 2 years to finally win the South American title, which he did by knocking out Humberto Loayza of Chile in 5 rounds, 31 January '61 in Lima. He soon began challenging North American fighters and beating them. First one was Sonny Ray of Chicago, whom he knocked out also in 5 rounds. Then he decisioned another American, Freddie Mack, twice, both times by UD10 and then Jesse Bowdry, a semi-contender, also by UD10. All fights happened in 1961. He never defended his title and instead set his aim higher, at capturing the world title. He also decisioned Sixto Rodriguez twice and then knocked out the world title challenger Von Clay in 6 rounds, 14 April '62.


After also decisioning the clever Eddie Cotton, Mina finally made his American debut on 24 November that same year, at Madison Square Garden. His opponent was then one of the best American light heavyweights, Henry Hank. After the third round, Mina took control of the fight and won the rest of the rounds. However, one judge curiously gave the fight to the home favorite, while the other two scored it for the Peruvian underdog and so Mina won by a split decision after 10 rounds. The United Press also had Mina winning by 6-3-1. Before the fight, Garden matchmaker Teddy Brennan stated: "I'll match Mina for a title shot against Harold Johnson if he wins." But that never came to be. Sadly, Mina discovered he had a retinal injury which he aquired in the previous fight and had to pull out of the fight with Johnson. He returned to fighting at home for most of the rest of his career. He did however get to fight a major name, only problem was-he was not a champion back then. Bob Foster, at 6'3 and with one of the hardest punches ever in the history of the sport, was one of the most fearsome light heavyweights ever. He was 11-1, that one loss having come to Doug Jones, who, despite being a natural light heavyweight, fought as a heavyweight back then. It was 7 November '63 in Lima when Mauro Mina produced his best victory, knocking the bigger man down in round 8 for an 8-count and taking a unanimous decision victory after 10 rounds. After drawing against Allen Thomas, he beat Floyd McCoy by retirement in 8 and then fought one of the hottest contenders in South America, Gregorio Peralta of Argentina. Once again, Mina dropped a decision fighting away and we can never know wether he really ever lost. But it was his third loss and slightly ruined his chances of landing a potential world title fight. He would decision a few more American fighters before fighting his last fight against Piero del Papa of Italy, who would later win the European title, 5 November '65 in Lima. The Italian was younger and fresher but could not outbox the clever Peruvian and for the last time, Mauro Mina's hand was raised in victory by the referee.


Next year on 11 April, Mina announced his retirement and rather abruptly left the boxing world, just as he was about to make his mark on it for real. He left behind a record of 52 wins with 25 ko's, 3 losses and 3 draws. All of his losses are disputed because of the fact he fought away. He has never lost at home and it seems he has never been knocked down as a pro. His popularity in Peru is attested in the fact that a song was written for him, called "Punos de Oro"-Fists of Gold. He certainly had them. After retirement he ran his own gym in Lima and was the "boxing professor" for young fighters. He died of a heart attack on 1 June 1993, aged 59. One of those boxers which make you wonder "what if?" and knowing how technically sound and physically strong he was, I'd say he had a decent chance against Harold Johnson, another clever and strong guy.



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