Bantamweight – Jeff Chandler vs. Lupe Pintor
Best time to make this fight: September of 1982.
Reasons: Pintor, who had been champion since controversially dethroning Carlos Zarate in June of 1979, was aching to move up in weight. On June 3, 1982 Pintor stopped Seung Hoon Lee in 11 to notch his final defense and on September 23 he won an over-the-weight 10-rounder over Jorge Lujan (whose WBA bantamweight reign briefly overlapped Pintor’s). Given the stakes and potential pay check, Pintor surely would have donned the rubber suit one more time for a showdown with “Joltin’ Jeff.”
Chandler’s last defense against Johnny Carter (KO 6) was in March 1982 – which meant a six-month rest for the mythical Pintor fight. Chandler next defended against mandatory challenger Miguel Iriarte in October, but with the prospect of a big money haul for a unification tilt with Pintor, the WBA likely would have authorized step-aside money for Iriarte as well as a mandatory date with the new undisputed champ or, if the winner decided to vacate, a chance to vie for a crown.
Why this fight made the list: Another clash of contrasting styles between high-achieving titlists. By September 1982 Chandler had defended five times while Pintor had turned back eight challengers. They had effectively cleaned out the division; Pintor with his trademark Mexican toughness and body-punching prowess and Chandler with his all-around game. It also would have resolved the question of who was the best bantamweight of the era.
What might have happened: In addition to his weight issues, Pintor had problems with certain styles. Johnny Owen’s wood-chipper volume attack provided many winning moments while Albert Davila and Jovito Rengifo used sharp boxing to greatly trouble Pintor before the Mexican ultimately prevailed. Chandler, too, was rattled by Eijiro Murata (who also drew with Pintor) in their first fight (D 15) but in their second meeting he dominated en route to a 13th round TKO. Chandler would have used his height and reach advantages to pile up points, slice Pintor’s tender brows and win by decision.
Honorable mentions: Veerapol Sahaprom vs. Tim Austin, Rafael Marquez vs. Hozumi Hasegawa, Raul Perez vs. Orlando Canizales