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Carlos Palomino

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One of the best welterweights in the 70s, Carlos Palomino was a superb fighter and boxer, equally adept at both. He possessed the skills, the punch and the chin, as well as a good height for his division at nearly 5'9. After capturing the WBC title in 1976 by stopping the excellent John H Stracey late, Palomino went on to make 7 successful defenses, before losing to Wilfred Benitez. While popular during his boxing days, Palomino has been somewhat neglected by modern boxing writers. Known under the nickname "King", he really was one for a while. He retired soon after losing his title, after being beaten by Roberto Duran and dropped once. He has never been stopped however and always gave a good account of himself. He came back much later, but would never fight for a title again. Let's saddle up this Palomino. :laugh:


A Mexican of Native American descent, mostly, Palomino was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico (according to one other source, his birthplace is San Luis de Colorado), August 10 1949. His family moved to US when he was 10, settling in Los Angeles. He started boxing while in the army and won the 1971 and 1972 all-army welterweight championship. In 1972, he also won the AUU championship, where he defeated the eventual Olympic gold medallist Sugar Ray Seales. His boxing skills and fighting ability was evident back then. He turned pro later that same year, under the guidance of manager Jackie McCoy. In his first two fights, he beat the same guy, Javier Martinez, both times by UD4. He then drew in his third fight against Ted Liggett, who had 20 fights under his belt already. After winning his 8 next fights, he for the first time lost to Andy Price by a SD10, August 2 1974. The fight was even and up for grabs until the last round, when Price staged a rally and put Palomino down. Price "The Hawk" went on to be knocked out in 1 round by Sugar Ray Leonard. Palomino on the other hand learned a lot from this loss and would remain undefeated for a rather long time. In 1975, he first drew against Zovek Barajas, a fellow Mexican, before stopping him in the rematch by TKO9. He also drew against the crafty Hedgemon Lewis, in November that year. He received a match offer from John H Stracey, the reigning WBC-champion and took it. Palomino was still relatively unknown and was not expected to present a serious challenge to the man who had already stopped Hedgemon Lewis and Jose Napoles. They faced off on June 22 1976 at Wembley and the fight was a true toe-to-toe slugfest. Stracey was at first doing well and had a slight lead after the first 6 round, but Palomino came on strong after that. He kept targeting Stracey to the body which weakened the champion. In the 12th round, Palomino went in for the kill and hit Stracey with a barrage of lefts and rights to the body, which put him down. Stracey beat the count but a few moments later was down again after another barrage of body blows. As he barely got up and went against the ropes to rest, the referee ended the fight. Afterwards, Stracey's manager Mickey Duff stated:"It was a voluntary defense by Stracey, not a command one, and, to be perfectly honest, we picked what we thought was a competitive, saleable, but least dangerous opponent for Stracey. We were never more wrong."


The WBC belt was now his and he made his first defense on January 21 '77 against the tough Armando Muniz, at the Olympic Auditorium in L.A. Muniz opened aggressively and scored a knockdown in the first round in front of an ecstatic pro-Muniz crowd and also took the next four rounds, but as always, Palomino came back and started beating Muniz to the punch with his superior handspeed. In the 15th round, he wobbled Muniz with a short right and then followed it up with no less than 13 punches, before the fight was over, at 2:24 of the last round. For his second defense, he went back to Wembley to take on the new British welter sensation-Dave "Boy" Green aka The Fenland Tiger. Green was ranked at no.2 by WBC and was a tough customer with a good punch, but Palomino was still a heavy favorite and he justified that by breaking Green down and finally knocking him out in round 11 with a tremendous left hook to the chin. Green was out cold and would remain down for 3 minutes at least. He had now scores 3 late stoppages in a row, so he was bound to go the distance sooner or later. He did that in his third defense, against the slick Everardo Costa Azevedo, a Brazilian technician, who did everything he could to survive. Palomino was also slow to break through with his offensive and not until the 10th round did he start throwing serious shots. "It's frustrating to be in there with a guy that doesn't want to fight. I think all he wanted was to go 15", Palomino said later. In his next defense, he beat the unheralded Jose Palacios, who came in with a record of 11-10-1, by a KO13 and then in the next one, the fifth, he knocked out Ryu Sorimachi of Japan with another left hook to the chin in 7 rounds. After stopping the Moroccan-Spanish Mimoun Mohatar by TKO9 in March 1978, he made his final successful defense in a rematch with Muniz, this time winning by UD15, 27 May. He then fought the 20-yearold top-ranked challenger Wilfred Benitez, who previously held the WBA light welter title. Benitez was simply too elusive and slick for Palomino and as usual, Palomino started slow. It was January 14 1979 at Hiram Bithom Stadium in San Juan, Benitez's hometown. After starting slow as mentioned, he found his target in round 5 and stung Benitez with two good right hands and followed it up with a left hook. The bell saved Benitez from further trouble. However, in 1976 he had broken his right hands and also against Muniz in his last defense he broke the left one as well. He said:"I don't know if it was the heat or the long layoff, but I couldn't move the way I wanted to. I was slow. I could only throw one punch at a time." Benitez then took completely over and kept peppering him with combinations. Palomino lasted the distance but clearly lost, however one judge curiously gave him the fight by 145-142. He earned 465 K for this fight, but it was a major crossroads for him, it turned out, like the next fight.


He faced the legendary Roberto "Hands of Stone" Duran on the same day he won the WBC title, June 22, that same year 'of 79. He was now approaching his 30th birthday and had some serious doubts about his future in the sport. He had also promised his mother that he would quit at 30. Duran fight took place at Madison SG, on the undercard of Larry Holmes vs Mike Weaver. A crowd of 14 K watched the two duke it out and Duran, simply a greater fighter, dominated the fight for most of the scheduled 10 rounds, also knocking Palomino down in round 6 with a left-right. Palomino bounced back and had a good round 7, but Duran once again took control and dominated the last 3 rounds, in the end winning by the scores of 99-90 twice and 99-91. Having also been unsuccessful in getting a rematch with Benitez, Palomino decided to retire there and then, right before turning 30. He finished his Bachelor in recreational administration and took up acting, appearing in some movies and among others, series "Hill Street Blues" and "Knight Rider". In 1993, he appeared in his most famous role as sgt. Turkey in "Geronimo". He came back to the ring, surprisingly, in January 1997 and won his first fight by RTD8 against Ismael Diaz, an easy opponent. The most amazing thing was-he was still a welterweight! His most famous victory here was knocking out the former two-time light welter champion Rene Arredondo in 1 round, after which Arredondo was retired. It was his trademark left hooks that did the trick. After scoring his fourth straight stoppage victory after another easy opponent, he fought the contender Wilfredo Rivera on 30 May '98 and lost to him by a clear UD10 in Los Angeles. He then retired for good. His record is 31 wins, 19 by ko, 4 losses and 3 draws.


He was inducted into the IBHOF in 2004 and continued sporadically appearing in movies after his final retirement, last one coming out in 2019. Palomino was in his best days a formidable opponent for anyone, but his hand injuries obviously plagued him towards the end of his championship reign. Perhaps it was wise to retire at 30, perhaps not. Had he not done that, he would have to compete against the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns-which would be hard of course. Thank you.



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