NO. 2 CARLOS ZARATE
Record: 66-4 (63 KOs)
Background: Zarate was one of the pound-for-pound best fighters of the 1970s, which is saying something. The tall and rangy boxer-puncher is also one of the hardest-hitting fighters of any era. The native of Tepito, Mexico, stopped 46 of his first 47 opponents. Zarate did not lose a fight until he suffered a fifth-round TKO to fellow hall-of-famer Wilfredo Gomez in a bid for the Puerto Rican star’s 122-pound title. His record at the time of that fight in October of 1978: 52-0 with 51 knockouts.
Beyond Zarate’s awesome power and eye-popping stats is his underrated poise and technique, which helped him win the WBC title from Roldolfo Martinez and defend it nine times, including stoppages of top-10 contenders Paul Ferreri (TKO 12) and Davila (TKO 8). His fourth-round TKO of fellow KO king Zamora (29-0 all by knockout at the time) was a non-title bout.
Many observers believe he deserved to win his decision loss to Pintor, who he dropped in the fourth round. Zarate retired for almost seven years after the Pintor fight but returned in early 1986 and won 12 bouts before losing back-to-back title bouts to future hall of famers Jeff Fenech and Daniel Zaragoza. He retired in 1988, following the Zaragoza bout and was inducted into the hall of fame in 1994.
“He was so sturdy, always straight up and in position to score with accurate punches,” Rivera said. “He was a true KO artist but he could box. He was cool, calm, and collected. He picked his spots to punch but when he found it, the fight was over.”