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Oscar Leon-Hard Luck Man


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In the sport of boxing, there has hardly been a man whose luck was worse than Oscar Leon. This talented Colombian featherweight contender has lost two disputed decisions in world title fights, to Derrick Gainer and Chris John, both in 2003. He was also very unlucky against Daniel Seda before that, when he was stopped thanks to a cut late in the fight, after being ahead on the scorecards. His greatest win was over John Michael Johnson, where he won the IBA title, in 2002. He deteriorated as a fighter seriously later on and won only one fight of his last eleven, even though most losses came against quality opponents-and two of them were also controversial.

Oscar Leon Navas was born 4 April 1974 in Cartagena, a major city on the northern coast of Colombia. His fighting alias was "El Artista (The Artist)". He stands 5'6 (168 cm) and has a reach of 71 inches (180 cm) and he fought from the southpaw stance. I guess it's true what they say, nobody likes southpaws in boxing. Leon turned pro in August 1996, mostly fighting at home in Cartagena early on. He went 19-0 before getting upset for the first time by Julio Pablo Chacon of Argentina, 32-0 and a future WBO-champion. The fight was in Mendoza, Argentina, on 23 July 1999 and Leon lost by TKO10 fighting for the WBA Fedelatin title. In his next fight, his luck got even worse, as he took on Daniel Seda of Puerto Rico, 12 August 2000 in Las Vegas, for the same (now vacant) title. Leon showed his worth by outboxing Seda for a good portion of the fight, however Seda managed to open a cut near his left eye which brought forth stoppage at the end of round 8. 

Leon was away from the ring until June 2001, when he came back by stopping lesser fighter Quincy Pratt by TKO4.  On 5 April 2002, he faced the former super bantam WBA champion John Michael Johnson for the International Boxing Association title, in Buffalo, NY. This time things went better for Leon and he dropped Johnson in the 8th en route to a UD12 win. After two more minor wins, he was now ready to challenge for the WBA title against the champion Derrick "Smoke" Gainer, a tall and slick fighter. Gainer also could hit, as Leon would experience as they fought on 12 April 2003 at MGM Grand; Leon went down in rounds 8 and 10, but otherwise he outlanded Gainer and in the end got the verdict from one judge, but the other two scored it for the champion. It was a very disputed decision and the same thing would repeat in his next fight, which happened in Kuta, Indonesia. He took on the Indonesian hero Chris John for the WBA interim title, 26 September same year. Even though Leon went down in round 11, he seemed to win more rounds than John, but was again denied the win in a split decision that went to John.

He won 3 fights before fighting Humberto Soto for the interim WBC title, 17 February 2006 in Los Mochis, Mexico. It was a clash of two clever boxers, yet both also liked mixing it up. It was a close fight up until round 9, when Leon was caught by a big left hook while exchanging punches. He went down and got up rather quickly and went back at it, but only seconds later he was dropped again, this time by a counter right. Although he made it back on his feet in time and seemed ok to continue, the referee waved him off. Leon was visibly very angry at this decision. This was also his last chance to win a world title belt. In his next fight, something even more controversial happened: he was fighting South African Thomas Mashaba for his IBO title, in Cape Town. In the third round, Leon briefly went down despite apparently not being hit. The referee then completed the count despite the bell having rung and despite Leon's protests, declared the fight as over. 

Almost 12 months after that, he came back to the ring on 17 November 2007, to fight the new hope Anthony Peterson at Turks and Caicos. Even the fight was supposed to be at 135, Leon came in over the limit at 138. Everything went well until round 5, when Leon was first knocked down by a left to the body and a glancing right to the head. He got up but later in the round he was down again after walking into a counter left. After getting up again, he was hit by a right uppercut and went down to one knee, after which he failed to beat the count. He was also knocked out in his next fight against David Torres, in 5 rounds, 11 April 2008 at Villa Park, USA. After losing a MD8 to Donald Camarena later same year, he scored his last victory on 6 March 2009, by beating 21-1 Ira Terry by SD8. He also scored a knockdown in round 4. He was then stopped by Danny Garcia by TKO3 on 22 August, 5 months later. He had his last notable fight on 25 June 2010, fighting Pablo Cesar Cano for the vacant NABF super lightweight title in Mexico City. Cano needed a split decision to win against the still-slick southpaw from Cartagena. 

After getting ko'd by Francisco Fuentes on 19 August next year in Monteria, Colombia, Leon finally retired aged 37. His record is a tainted one, since he has had so many disputed or unlucky losses, it reads 28(18)-14-0. Oscar Leon was obviously a very capable and tricky fighter who had technical ability and a rather smooth boxing style, but may have lacked the big punch and therefore too often relied on the mercy of the judges-which sealed his career. He also experienced two unfair losses by stoppage. This is what makes Leon a hard luck contender. Whatever he is up to now, I hope it goes better for him than his ring career did.


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