In the storied history of the Middleweight division, no man dominated the division like Carlos Monzón. Like Marvin Hagler, Monzón could adapt his style according to his opponent’s. He held the Middleweight Championship for almost seven years. After losing three of his first 19 fights, he would go undefeated in his last 81 fights. As calm and cool as he was inside the ring, he was a very surly and violent man outside the ring.
Like many South American fighters back then, Monzón turned to boxing to escape extreme poverty in Argentina. After a very good amateur career, Monzón turned pro in 1963 at the age of 20. Monzón would fight his first 79 fights of his career in his homeland of Argentina. In the late 1960’s, he fought legendary Philly slugger Bennie Briscoe to a draw and outpointed perennial American contender Tom Bethea. Finally, on November 7, 1970, Monzón traveled to Italy to fight for the Middleweight Championship of the World against legendary Italian fighter Nino Benvenuti.
In the fight against Benvenuti, which was the 1970 Ring Magazine Fight of the Year, Monzón never wavered. He outslugged the incredibly gifted champion, finally pounding him into submission in the 12th round to win the title. In the rematch six months later, Monzón gave Benvenuti an even more severe beating, causing Benvenuti’s corner in round three to throw in the towel. Benvenuti suffered so much punishment in his two fights with Monzón that he never fought again.
In Monzón’s personal life, he was a very angry and violent man. However, he did have incredible respect and fondness for the aforementioned Briscoe. Bennie Briscoe was the only fighter that Monzón truly had admiration for. In their first fight in Argentina, which there is absolutely no footage of, Briscoe gave him hell and Monzón admitted that he was lucky to escape with a hometown draw. On November 11, 1972, Monzón gave Briscoe a well-earned rematch, once again in Argentina. This time, Monzón put on the greatest performance of his career. He danced, jabbed and landed combinations all night long against the dangerous Philly slugger. In the ninth round, Briscoe staggered Monzón with a clubbing right cross. It was the most danger Monzón would face as champion. Monzón survived and would continue to outbox and out finesse Briscoe the rest of the fight, winning a lopsided unanimous decision.
In 1973, Monzón would successfully defend his title three times despite being shot in the leg by his first wife, who was defending herself against Monzón’s constant physical abuse. Monzón then began a very famous romance with Argentinian actress Susana Giménez. She too suffered repeated physical abuse from Monzón. It was such a bizarre anomaly from the way he fought inside the ring. In the ring, he was cerebral and always in control. Outside the ring, he was volatile and many times out of control.
On February 9, 1974, Monzón would travel to Paris to defend his title against legendary Cuban Welterweight Champion Jose Nápoles. Nápoles was just as smooth as Monzón was in the ring, but he was much too small to stand a chance against Monzón. After seven one sided rounds, Nápoles quit on his stool. Despite his personal demons outside the ring, inside the ring, Monzón was still unbeatable.
After the Nápoles fight, Monzón was inexplicably stripped of his WBC title. Briscoe would lose to Colombian fighter Rodrigo Valdez in the fight for the vacant belt. While Valdez was now recognized as the WBC Champion, everyone knew Monzón was the rightful champion. They would meet to unify the titles on June 26, 1976 in Monaco. Monzón easily outboxed Valdez to once again become the undisputed Middleweight Champion. By this time, Monzón was 34 and had lost a step. He decided to give Valdez a rematch a year later on July 30, 1977. In the second round, Valdez dropped Monzón with a tremendous right cross. Monzón had shown signs of slipping throughout the first seven rounds and was losing the fight. However, as great champions often do, Monzón came roaring back, outboxing and out landing Valdez the entire second half of the fight, earning him an unanimous decision. It would be the 14th and final successful defense of his title, as Monzón immediately retired after the fight.
Monzón’s post fight career was marred by his constant beating of the woman he married after he retired, Alicia Muniz. In 1988, he strangled Muñiz and threw her off a balcony. Realizing what he did, Monzón jumped to try and save her. Muñiz died of a broken neck and Monzón suffered an injured shoulder. Monzón was convicted of manslaughter. In 1995, he was given a weekend furlough to visit his family. On the return trip home, Monzón would die in a car accident, ending the life of not only an incredibly violent man, but also the greatest Middleweight of all time.
(You can listen to my podcast on Carlos Monzón’s greatest performance.)