Easily one of the greatest talents Mexico has ever produced and from a country that breeds fighting machines, Sanchez might best be described as an aggressive counter-puncher who was capable from all ranges with excellent timing and accuracy. Physically - at 5'7 with a 67" reach - he possessed above average speed, reflexes, power and an excellent chin that was tested and proven, but likely even greater was his immense stamina, conditioning and uncanny poise in the ring. By far one of the most relaxed fighters ever seen on film for my money. There's often a lot of back-and-forth in regards to how 'overrated' he's become as a result of his extremely premature death, but his talent and ability certainly isn't up for much debate. Depending on how high you care to rate him all-time, I don't believe his record is either.
Danny Lopez (x2)
By only age 23 with miniscule amateur experience to speak of, Sanchez compiled a 44-1-1 (32) pro record, won the Lineal/WBC Featherweight Championship of the world and hastily strung together (9) title defenses against predominantly top caliber opposition. He had four fights against three legit ATG/HOF guys and won all of them. In terms of numbers, he beat as many rated featherweight champions/contenders in under three years as Roberto Duran did at lightweight in seven.
He won arguably the biggest and most significant fight in the history of the Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry with each country's very best fighter both in their prime. Dubbed "The Battle of the Little Giants", it took place August 21, 1981 at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas . Wilfredo Gomez (32-0-1, 32 KO)
came into the fight as a 2-1 favorite, was considered one of the best fighters P4P in the sport, undoubtedly it's best and most savage accumulative puncher and has since earned universal acclaim as an ATG. To get a small idea of the magnitude of Sal's TKO8 triumph here (as well as his run in general), Ray Leonard beating undefeated versions Thomas Hearns (32-0, 30 KOs) and RING/Lineal/WBA LMW champ Ayub Kalule (36-0) in the same calendar year in addition to being one of the most popular figures in the history of the sport (even at that point in time) wasn't enough to get Fighter of the Year honors for himself - he shared it with Salvador Sanchez in 1981.
When Sanchez won his title from RING/Lineal/WBC Champion Danny "Little Red" Lopez (42-3, 39 KO)
it was another instance of him going in as an underdog, this time against a fighter who had been on top of the division for over three years and was riding an 18-fight winning streak (16 by KO) with wins over Ruben Olivares, David Kotey (x2), Art Hafey, Mike Ayala (RING's 1979 Fight of the Year), Roberto Castanon and Juan Domingo Malvarez. Never particularly hard to find - to say the least - Lopez was most certainly formidable and carried one of the biggest punches in the sport, capable of swinging the direction of a fight's outcome as a result. In a KO Magazine poll in January 1980 a month prior to his bout with Sanchez, he was considered to be the #4 pound-for-pound fighter in boxing. In a rematch four months later, Sal defeated him in similar fashion in another late TKO win.
It could be said Azumah Nelson (13-0)
was too green (coming in as a substitute on short notice) to be considered a great win, but for me the proof is in the pudding (or fight) and being 'green' and closer to athletic prime usually trumps 'past it' or worse, 'shot' as far as I'm concerned. Nelson fought beyond his ring experience and with the unrelenting, possessive fervor that would come to shape part of his identity as an all-time fighter. He gained almost immediate acclaim following the fight, would take titles at both 126 and 130, and was not soundly defeated for the better part of the following eight years until moving to up to 135 in a bid to challenge a peak Pernell Whitaker for his lightweight titles.
Juan LaPorte (15-1)
is probably known as much for his unbelievable chin as any achievements made in the ring, but was nevertheless a durable boxer-puncher, one of the top contenders of the era and a future champion from the point Sanchez beat him. Ruben Castillo (47-1)
was another top-level contender, class technician and out-fighter who's only loss up to that point was at the hands of Alexis Arguello in a bout at 130 lbs. Rounding out the list of rated contenders squeezed into the tight window are Pat Cowdell (19-2)
and the immensely awkward Patrick Ford (16-0)
who's style and dimensions gave Sal fits in the early going before ultimately prevailing. Roberto Castanon's (43-1)
only prior defeat came at the hands of Lopez, whom Sanchez stopped twice.
He has the accomplishments of a man who knew his time was going to expire shortly and made the most of it when in reality he obviously had no idea
he'd be cut so bitterly short. It has been said he was looking to be out of sport by the time he was 25, over which time he'd of likely settled the unification matter with another all-time great FW in Eusebio Pedroza and completed his legacy, amongst other potential superfights that could've potentially been brought to the table.
As it is, Sanchez is deserving of his ATG status not for what he could've been and accomplished, but for what he was and did.
Sanchez's IBHOF Profile: http://www.ibhof.com/pages/about/ind...n/sanchez.html
http://www.ibhof.com/pages/about/ind...ern/gomez.html ----> Wilfredo Gomez
http://www.ibhof.com/pages/about/ind...sonazumah.html ----> Azumah Nelson
[url]http://www.ibhof.com/pages/about/inductees/modern/lopez_danny.html ----> Danny Lopez