Brought to you by IB Creative™ in partnership with @George Crowcroft Inudstries©. This is going to be a joint project; a repository for critical and editorial analysis of his career and life in general, but with an emphasis on spotlighting various of his fights with the caveat of the narrative being told from the perspective of his side. Zaragoza is, as I told young George recently, for me and I think many other fans & historians, often relegated to somebody viewed strictly through a lens of what he meant in the grand scheme of his opponents' legacies. Never the guest of honor or man of the hour in any broader conversation, just a cameo ensemble player upon whom it touches now and then. All of which may sound unfair given his chops & cred, but there are loads of such guys in the sport whose service in that unglamourous yeoman's role is - forget necessary - I'd say vital to molding the legend of damn near every ATG we have. Guys who brush greatness, buttress it; whose glasses may clink in toast against it but who do not themselves imbibe from that holy chalice. Mind you, in Zaragoza we are talking about somebody in the IBHOF and not some totally unsung obscurity - but many are in the Hall of Fame who do not occupy that innermost concentric ring wherein dwell the All Time Greats. No shame in that, but it does seem a damn shame for anybody good enough to be HOF to not get the benefit of as much close inspection or attention that some of the, well, more famous inductees who fall short of transcending into the capital G realm (ie Gatti) are draped in like so much brocaded finery. This hard-scrabble lefty and poster boy for the lunchpail-carrying Mexican warrior is as deserving of a good swaddling and tilt down the catwalk of retrospective tribute as the next Good (or Very Good) And Famous but Not Quite Great fighter. So let's give this ugly mug a makeover and turn him out as fabuloso belle of the ball! Daniel shares his (little-known and virtually never mentioned in English media, completely absent from his BoxRec and Wikipedia pages) matrilineal surname with brother Agustín Zaragoza Reyna, who represented Mexico at the Olympics (a dozen years before Daniel himself did) and fought under the moniker Agustín Zaragoza Jr. (after their father, Agustín Sr., who fought professionally but without any major backing in the 1930s & 40's to feed his family). In those infamous Summer Games in '68 (an event whose smaller details have long been overshadowed by the black power salute), Agustín Jr. beat Oliver Dinsdale Wright of Jamaica (who later went on a notable but dubiously boastable run in the pros, suffering KO losses consecutively to a lion's den of Bonavena, Holmes, Shavers and Bobick over an eight month span) and Jan Hejduk of Czechoslovakia before succumbing to Soviet powerhouse Aleksey Kiselyov via RSC1, ultimately claiming a bronze medal in the Mexico City hosted olympiad, inspiring a whole generation of his countrymen including his younger brother. For decades now, Agustín Jr. has trained youth at the Vicente Saldívar Gym in the Benito Juárez borough of CDMX, where a slew of prominent Mexicans have cut teeth, including Daniel and the Márquez bros (Rafael & Juan Manuel). The first southpaw in the family (perhaps inspired by watching the dominance of Kiselyov in his impressionable youth, purely conjectural on my part - or maybe it just felt more natural to him), Daniel would nearly bring home another medal but fell short in the quarterfinals, just shy of the medal stage. He would then waste no time, making his pro debut within three months and keeping a breakneck pace for the first half of the 1980s, and functionally of his career. 29 appearances in 4½ years, with 25 of those in his native land. Contrast with the next 37 bouts, starting with the somewhat haphazard capture of the vacant WBC bantam title in Aruba over Fred Jackson via DQ while behind on two judges' cards - all but six were fought abroad. He went from being an 86%-of-the-time homer in his initial climb on the shoulders of legion cab drivers, to a mere 16% in his latter and more storied run as the ultimate road warrior. He is arguably more of a legend in Asia than in his own backyard. In the Orient he successfully made six title defenses, beating local favorites and winning the hearts and minds of Japanese and Korean fans (campaigning in those nations thrice apiece). On the heels of twice outslugging heroic figure Jōichirō Tatsuyoshi, he was "big in Japan" before that became such a widely known trope for washed up Western rock bands. Globally and domestically, he is most notably remembered for knocking out his compatriot and undeniable great (on the bantamweight GOAT shortlist) Carlos Zárate Serna to claim the WBC super bantam title, and then nearly a decade later in turn in passing the baton along with that selfsame belt to a newly ascendant star in Érik Isaac Morales Elvira...whose star would ultimately outshine both predecessors'. In between, Zaragoza would boot up on 26 occasions - with a few tomato can tuneups, sure, but nineteen of those were for the championship. 20 jousts for the green strap at 122lbs, in all - going 13-4-3 (5) altogether for it. This after having already had a cup of coffee as champ at 118lbs, dethroned in his first defense by Happy Lora in what Jeune Maître Crowcroft termed, IMO correctly, "an incredible performance" ..."a masterpiece", and "seriously good work". That all provides a rife ore from which to mine our evaluative material. Here is what, in my preliminary rutting around, seems to have footage publicly available online: Miguel Lora ('85) Jeff Fenech ('86) Carlos Zárate ('88) Seung Hoon Lee ('88) Valerio Nati ('88) Paul Banke I, II and III. ('89-91) Frankie Duarte ('89) Chan Young Park ('89) Kiyoshi Hatanaka ('91) Joon Huh ('91) Thierry Jacob ('92) Hector Acero Sánchez I & II ('95) Jōichirō Tatsuyoshi I (96) and II ('97) Tsuyoshi Harada ('96) Wayne McCullough ('97) Érik Morales ('97) That is twenty fights. Here are the ones for which I couldn't find anything, but it seems reasonable to expect that some videos could be floating around (or were previously uploaded somewhere, but since taken down, leaving open the possibility of them being re-upped at some point) somewhere: Harold Petty I or II; Fred Jackson; Aaron López; José Sanabria; Mike Ayala; Jorge Ramírez I, II or III; Patterson I, or II full (there is a twelve minute highlight video at some dodgy Russian website) - ?? That's another eleven. So we have anywhere between 21% and 46% of his body of work - between 16 and ~25 hours of boxing - filmed and waiting for a gander (and RBR scoring). I think by the last of that, however long it takes us to chip away, we should know what to make of El Ratón and his place in the sport, and in the Panteón Azteca.