NO. 4 RAFAEL HERRERA
Record: 48-9-4 (19 KOs)
Background: The Mexico City resident is often overlooked by American fight fans who appreciate history but he secured his place in Mexico’s boxing folklore with two victories over Ruben Olivares, the only fighter who can challenge Julio Cesar Chavez in terms of popularity.
Olivares is also an all-time great and he was in his prime when Herrera stopped him in the eighth round in 1972 to claim both WBC and WBA bantamweight titles. Olivares’ record at the time was 68-1-1 with 61 knockouts.
Herrera lost the titles to Panama’s Enrique Pinder via 15-round decision in his first defense, but he scored a 10-round majority decision over Olivares in their rematch at the Forum in ‘72. Herrera regained the WBC belt with a 12th-round stoppage of rival Roldolfo Martinez in ‘73. He owned a decision victory over Martinez, which was the future titleholder’s first loss.
Herrera split two bouts — a third-round TKO loss and 10-round split decision victory — with bantamweight champ Chucho Castillo and defended his WBC title against former beltholder Romeo Anaya (TKO 6). He retired in 1976 but made a one-bout comeback (a four-round decision over a journeyman) in ‘86.
“He was a complete fighter with decent power but much better speed. He was a pretty fighter, a smart boxer,” Rivera said. “He’s the president of the Mexican boxing commission now, which comes as no surprise because he was always so intelligent and knowledgeable about boxing.”