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GorDoom
06-29-2012, 10:50 AM
Jose Becerra
By Dan Cuoco

Jose Becerra was born on April 15, 1936 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. He was the second oldest of five children (two brothers and two sisters). Jose became interested in boxing through a friend. He started in the Mexican Golden Gloves and had thirty amateur fights winning all but two. Coming from a poor background Jose decided to turn professional to earn a few pesos to help feed the family. At the time he turned professional he had no thoughts of big purses or titles. Boxing was just a means to earn a meager living.

Young Jose came under the tutelage of Pancho Rosales who for over thirty years had been Mexico’s leading developer of ring talent. On August 30, 1953, 17-year-old Jose Becerra made his professional debut with a fourth round knockout victory over Ray Gomez in Guadaljara, Mexico.

Jose quickly established himself as a comer by winning his first eighteen fights (all six rounders) over credible opposition. Most of his fights took place in Guadalajara and he was quickly becoming a favorite because of his damaging punch. Nine of his eighteen opponents were knockout victims.

Jose tasted defeat for the first time when the more experienced Luis Ibarra outpointed him in six rounds on October 3, 1954. 15 days later Jose started another winning streak that saw him go undefeated in thirteen fights, with only a ten round draw with featherweight Danny Bedolla marring the streak. Eight of his victories were by knockout. Claudio Martinez put a temporary halt to Jose’s rise when he outpointed the 19 year-older on February 18, 1956 in Guadalajara.

Less than a month later Jose locked horns with another 19-year-old up and coming bantamweight named German Ohm. Trailing on points, Jose was able to cut Ohm’s eyebrows and escape with a sixth round technical knockout. The fight was the toughest of Jose’s career. Jose won five more fights before being matched with Ohm again. This time he wasn’t so lucky. Since their last fight Ohm had knocked out Baby Ruiz in one round and was rated ninth in the world ratings. The rematch took place on October 18, 1956 before a packed arena. Ohm was better than Jose that night and gave him a boxing lesson enroute to a unanimous ten round decision.

In 1957 Jose hit his stride as a big timer. Early in 1957 Jose ended the winning streak of the veteran Cuban bantamweight Manuel Armenteros, who for many years had been among the top men in the division. At the time Jose defeated him, Armenteros was a big favorite in Mexico, successfully touring from city to city. He followed this victory with two easy ten round decision victories over another up and coming Mexican bantam named Jose Medel. Jose, who was one month shy of his 19th birthday, had turned pro at 17 and had already met and held his own with most of Mexico’s toughest flyweights and bantamweights. He entered the ring with Becerra sporting a record of 20-4-3, with 14 kayos.

His victories over Armenteros and Medel moved him into the world ratings on April 17, 1957. He entered as the number ten bantam in the world. Ahead of him in the ratings from Mexico were his idol Raul Macias at number one and German Ohm at number five.

After going undefeated in twelve fights since his loss to Ohm, Jose came to Los Angeles to fight Dwight Hawkins. The date was November 16, 1957. It was going to be a big night because Mexican ring idol Raul (Raton) Macias holder of the NBA bantamweight title was meeting Alphonse Halimi for the undisputed world title. All of Mexico was worked up over the fight. Thousands of Mexican fight fans made the trek from Mexico. Mexican fight fans living in LA made a Mexican holiday of the event.

Even Jose got caught up by the occasion. Jose found it hard to keep his mind on his own fight that night even though he knew Hawkins was a dangerous, murderous puncher. Macias lost a decisive fifteen round decision to Halimi - and all Mexico mourned. Jose’s fight came on after the championship fight and Becerra too was in mourning. He later said, “I was so upset by Macias’ loss I didn’t care.” An unmotivated Becerra was stopped in the fourth round

Jose stayed out of the ring for three months and came back a much more dedicated fighter. During the next year and a half Jose ran off fifteen consecutive victories, thirteen by knockout to find himself the mandatory challenger for Alphonse Halimi’s bantamweight crown. Among his kayo victims were Dwight Hawkins (ko 9), Willie Parker (ko 2), Little Cezar (ko 4), Jose Luis Mora (ko 3), Ross Padilla (ko 1), Mario D’Agata (tko 10), and Billy Peacock (ko 1). His most impressive victory was when he fought Mario D’Agata, former world bantamweight champion in Los Angeles on February 5, 1959. D’Agata proudly boasted that he had never been floored in his life. D’Agata, like Jake LaMotta before him when he fought Ray Robinson, could continue that boast after the fight. But, Becerra pounded him so relentlessly D’Agata was forced to call it quits in ten rounds. The stoppage was the only time the ex-champion failed to finish a fight in a career that spanned twelve years and 67 fights.

During this eighteen-month stretch, Jose had demonstrated an overwhelming persistency to cause all his opponents to fight his kind of fight. With a damaging right hand and a powerful sneak left hook, opponents were becoming wary because they knew that Becerra could capitalize on any mistake and take them out with one punch. It had been a long time since the bantamweight division had seen such a force as this devastating 23-year-old knockout artist.

On July 8, 1959 Jose prepared to enter the ring for the biggest fight of his life. In the opposite corner was bantamweight champion Alphonse Halimi who had beaten his idol Raul (Raton) Macias 21 months earlier. Becerra had a lot of pressure on him. He wasn’t just fighting for himself; he was fighting for all of Mexico. To add to his pressure, in a meeting with Mexico’s President Adolfo Lopez Mateos Jose had promised that he would bring the title to Mexico.

The title fight was held in the new Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. 15,110 spectators were on hand to witness an unforgettable brawl. The fight was action packed every second of the way.

Halimi got off to a good start by taking the first two rounds with his superior boxing skills. In round three Becerra picked up the pace and tore into Halimi relentlessly. He backed the champion into the ropes where he whaled away with both hands. But Halimi wasn’t champion for nothing. He stood his ground and met Becerra punch for punch. The fight turned into a see-saw battle without a moments let-up. The pace was terrific. Every now and then one or the other would land a hard punch that would bring the already hysterical crowd to their feet. Hopes rose and fell, but champion and challenger remained upright. It was obvious, however, that the fight was not going to go the full 15 rounds.


Becerra KOs Halimi
The end came in the eighth round. After a minute and a half of give-and-take, Halimi hurt Becerra with a hard right to the head. But instead of backing off, Becerra came forward an exploded a left hook, followed by a right hand to the head of Halimi sending him to the canvas. Halimi was on his feet at the count of four. He instinctively tried to protect himself. But Becerra was not to be denied. He attacked recklessly and scored with hard body punches which sapped the last remaining strength in Halimi’s body. Becerra then switched to the head and landed a beautiful left hook followed by a right hand that dropped him on his face for the full count. He didn’t move a muscle as the referee counted him out.

Bill Miller of “The Ring” summed up the emotions of the moment after the knockout beautifully when he reported, “That was when the grandfather of all demonstrations took place. Pandemonium broke loose. Frenzied fans screamed hysterically. It was contagious. Even this hardened veteran of ring activity found himself cheering. Later a friend of mine, sports-writer of a Spanish daily published in Los Angeles told me that he had a wire from Guadalajara, Becerra’s home town - a city of 400,000 - that the city had gone stark mad. Thousands of people crowded around radios and when they heard about the first knockdown, people started to embrace each other and weep for joy. When the end came - well, try to picture it: You’ve seen Mexican fans!”

Similar excitement took place in Mexico City, where a few days later Jose received a hero’s welcome.


Becerra KOs Ingram
Tragedy struck Jose on October 24, 1959 in his hometown of Guadalajara. Jose was making his first start as champion in a non-title fight against Walt Ingram. Jose was battering the gallant and brave Ingram so badly that the referee stopped the carnage in the ninth round. While the fans were acclaiming Jose’s victory, the unfortunate Ingram suddenly collapsed. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to the injuries.

On December 12, 1959 Jose had his first fight since the tragic fight with Ingram and won a ten round decision over Frankie Duran in Nogales, Mexico. Jose wasn’t nearly as aggressive as his previous fights and appeared to hold back when he got Duran in position to land one of his thunderous shots. Still he won rather handily. With a title rematch set for February against former champion Halimi, his handlers knew he would have to show a lot more intensity than he displayed in the Duran fight if he hoped to retain his title.

The Becerra-Halimi rematch took place on February 4, 1960 at the Los Angeles Coliseum before a crowd of 31,830. The fight was shifted from its original local when it became apparent that the arena would not hold the thousands who applied for tickets. Becerra was now the most popular fighter to ever come out of Mexico.

Halimi came out for the first round intent on boxing from long range where he had the advantage. He clearly took the first round with his clever boxing. The second round was following the pattern of the first round when Alphonse caught Jose with a body punch and floored him for a one count. After the second round, Jose, as was the case in their first match, started to successfully trap the challenger along the ropes. But Halimi had learned from his first encounter with Becerra. Whenever Jose tried to get inside, Alphonse either used his speed to get out of harms way or tied the champion up until the referee ordered them to break. The fight turned into another tense and exciting affair but through the first six rounds Halimi clearly had the edge. He was not only outboxing Jose in every round but was successfully trading punches with him when pinned on the ropes.

In the seventh round Halimi was starting to show signs of fatigue for the first time from the torrid pace. Although he was still clearly outboxing the champion he did take a number of punishing left hooks to the head. In the eighth round Halimi missed a long left and before he could get set again, Becerra caught him with two beautiful left hooks that nearly dropped him. At the end of the eighth round Halimi’s corner pleaded with him not to mix it up with the champion. They implored him to box and keep the fight at long range. But Halimi didn’t listen to his corner. He was winning the fight with his combination boxing and slugging and apparently had no intention to change tactics. Becerra’s handlers were telling him that he was behind in the scoring and that he needed to step it up or he was in danger of losing his tile.




Becerra KOs Halimi
Becerra rushed from his corner to start the ninth. Halimi tried to catch the onrushing Becerra with a right hand but missed. Becerra countered with a terrific right to the heart that caused Halimi to wince and followed with a left hook with full leverage that caught Halimi on the chin and dropped him flat on his back for the full count. Nat Fleischer, editor of “The Ring” reported from ringside. ” Mexico has furnished many top ringmen to the fistic world but none more popular than Jose Becerra, world bantamweight champion. Striking with the deadliness of a cobra, the Guadalajara fighter, in a dramatic finish, retained his world crown by stopping Alphonse Halimi, challenger in 48 seconds of the ninth round. One well placed left hook that crashed against the jaw of the challenger, stiffened Halimi’s neck, dropped him like a log on the canvas where he was counted out. Ahead on points on the score cards of all officials and most of the writers, Halimi was well on the road to regain his throne. Then suddenly like a flash, one thunderous smash that came as a shock to the Frenchman’s many rooters, crashed Halimi’s margin and ended a contest that was replete with thrilling fighting and a dramatic ending. Becerra’s single punch momentarily held the crowd, consisting of more than half Mexican rooters, spellbound. Then with a sudden explosion, came a roar of “Viva Becerra”, a rush for ringside, the overturning of chairs and sombreros tossed in the air as the Mexican fans gave vent to their enthusiasm. Pandemonium enveloped the stadium as the Becerra supporters rushed pell-mell all over the arena. It was a sight to behold!”

Jose engaged in two non-title fights before defending his title for the second time on May 23, 1960 in Tokyo, Japan against Kenji Yonekura. Jose retained his title by a close split decision. The fight resembled a track meet as Yonekura kept retreating, slipping punches and occasionally lashing out snappy lefts to the champion’s face. Becerra was the aggressor throughout and kept the pressure on for the full 15 rounds. Many of his punches were short of the mark, but he landed enough to sway two of the three officials.

On August 12, 1960 Jose knocked out veteran Chuy Rodriquez in four rounds of a non-title fight in Tampico, Mexico. 18 days later on August 30, 1960 Eloy Sanchez shocked the world as well as Jose when he kayoed the champion in the eighth round of their non-title fight in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Jose retired immediately after the fight.

There was much speculation about Jose’s abrupt retirement from the ring. Some believed he quit because of his loss to Sanchez. Others believed that Jose lost much of his fire after he killed Walt Ingram. They pointed to the fact that his vaunted hook had been coming across with less assurance since the Ingram fight. And then there were rumors that he retired because of eye problems. The rumor about eye problems was never substantiated and Jose was too much a man to retire over a knockout loss. The feeling here is that Becerra retired because he just lost the fire in his belly for fighting after the Ingram loss. Jose was a humble man who came from a deeply religious family and never sought the adulation of the crowds that most fighters missed when their fighting days were over.

So like his idol Raul (Raton) Macias before him he walked away from the ring at age 24. Although he remained retired he did return for one fight on a special benefit show in Guadalajara, Mexico on October 13, 1962. Fighting a six rounder he outpointed Alberto Martinez in six rounds. The win brought his final ring record to 72-5-2, with 43 kayos.

GorDoom
06-29-2012, 10:51 AM
Jose Becerra
(Jose Becerra Covarrubias)

BORN April 15 1936; Guadalajara, Mexico
HEIGHT 5-5
WEIGHT 117 1/2-124 lbs
MANAGER Pancho Rosales
Becerra was a talented boxer who moved well, had "savvy" and hit effectively; He lost only five bouts in 79 contests and scored 43 knockouts; During his career, he won the Bantamweight Championship of the World

He defeated such men as Alphonse Halimi, Mario D'Agata, Billy Peacock, Dwight Hawkins, Jose Medel, Miguel Lazu, Raul Perez, German Ohm Gomez and Jorge Valverde Gomez

Herb Goldman ranked Becerra as the #19 All-Time Bantamweight; Jose was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005

1953
Aug 30 Ray Gomez Guadalajara, Mexico KO 4
Sep 6 Miguel Estrada Atemajac, Mexico KO 5
Oct 3 Roberto Gonzalez Guadalajara, Mexico W 4
Oct 24 Raul Salazar Atemajac, Mexico W 6

1954
Mar 13 Juan Plascencia Guadalajara, Mexico W 4
Apr 24 Marcelino Garcia Guadalajara, Mexico W 4
May 2 Ruben Espinosa Guadalajara, Mexico W 6
May 15 Kid Pompeyo Guadalajara, Mexico KO 4
May 23 Al Escalante Guadalajara, Mexico W 6
Jun 5 Joe Mariscal Guadalajara, Mexico KO 4
Jun 12 Raul Perez Guadalajara, Mexico KO 2
Jul 3 Kid Pompeyo Guadalajara, Mexico KO 4
Jul 19 Al Escalante Guadalajara, Mexico W 6
Aug 2 Kid Pichilingo Guadalajara, Mexico KO 6
Aug 23 Jose Luis Navarro Guadalajara, Mexico W 6
Sep 6 Mario Leon Guadalajara, Mexico TK 2
Sep 12 Jesus Plascencia Guadalajara, Mexico W 6
Sep 20 Tomas Cervantes Guadalajara, Mexico TK 3
Oct 3 Luis Ibarra Guadalajara, Mexico L 6
Oct 18 Jose Luis Navarro Guadalajara, Mexico W 6
Dec 4 Kid Senorito Guadalajara, Mexico KO 4

1955
Feb 12 Miguel Gonzalez Guadalajara, Mexico W 8
Mar 5 Chucho Guerrero Guadalajara, Mexico KO 4
May 28 Joe Chamaco Guadalajara, Mexico KO 5
Jun 11 Danny Bedolla Morelia, Mexico D 10
Jun 25 Chava Santiago Guadalajara, Mexico KO 6
Jul 2 Fili Presa Leon, Mexico KO 4
Jul 16 Felix Gaytan Guadalajara, Mexico W 10
Oct 4 Pepe Villa Pala, Mexico TK 7
Oct 8 Antonio Guevara Leon, Mexico KO 10
Oct 15 Ruben Garcia Guadalajara, Mexico W 10

1956
Feb 11 Antonio Guevara Leon, Mexico KO 10
Feb 18 Claudio Martinez Guadalajara, Mexico L 10
Mar 22 German Ohm Gomez Gomez Palacio, Mexico TK 6
May 11 Jorge Valverde Gomez Gomez Palacio, Mexico KO 7
May 31 Rogelio Saucedo Gomez Palacio, Mexico W 10
Jun 21 Mario Ruiz Gomez Palacio, Mexico W 10
Aug 9 Jorge Gabino Gomez Gomez Palacio, Mexico KO 5
Sep 6 Memo Sanchez Gomez Palacio, Mexico W 10
Oct 18 German Ohm Gomez Gomez Palacio, Mexico L 10
Nov 7 Chuy Guerrero Torreon, Mexico W 10

1957
Jan 1 Jorge Herrera Torreon, Mexico TK 7
Jan 12 Manuel Armenteros Monterrey, Mexico W 10
Feb 9 Jose Medel Monterrey, Mexico W 10
Mar 2 Jose Medel Mexico City, Mexico W 10
Apr 2 Juan "Lefty" Perez Juarez, Mexico TK 4
Apr 27 Jesse "Chuy" Rodriguez Mexico City, Mexico W 10
May 25 Jose Luis Mora Mexico City, Mexico W 10
Jun 15 Johnny Ortega San Francisco, Ca KO 4
Jul 1 Kid Irapuato Tijuana, Mexico TK 8
Aug 17 Raul Leanos Monterrey, Mexico D 10
Oct 12 Ramon Calatayud Mexico City, Mexico W 10
Nov 6 Dwight Hawkins Los Angeles, Ca LK 4

1958
Jan 25 Jorge Herrera in Mexico KO 4
Feb 8 Jose Medel Mexico City, Mexico W 10
Mar 8 Dwight Hawkins Guadalajara, Mexico KO 9
Mar 31 Hector Agundez Tapachula, Mexico W 10
Apr 12 Miguel Lazu Mexico City, Mexico TK 7
May 24 Charlie DeBow Mexico City, Mexico KO 2
-Some sources report 5/25/58
Jun 28 Gaetano Annaloro Guadalajara, Mexico KO 10
Jul 21 Joey Augustin Tijuana, Mexico KO 5
Aug 14 Willie Parker Los Angeles, Ca KO 2
Sep 5 Little Cezar Los Angeles, Ca TK 4
Oct 25 Jose Luis Mora Guadalajara, Mexico KO 3
Nov 30 Ross Padilla Mexicali, Mexico KO 1

1959
Feb 5 Mario D'Agata Los Angeles, Ca TK 10
Mar 19 Jesse "Chuy" Rodriguez Guadalajara, Mexico KO 5
Apr 20 Billy Peacock Tijuana, Mexico KO 1
Jul 8 Alphonse Halimi Los Angeles, Ca KO 8
-Bantamweight Championship of the World
Oct 24 Walt Ingram Guadalajara, Mexico TK 9
Dec 12 Frankie Duran Nogales, Mexico W 10
Dec 18 Hector Ceballos Obregon, Mexico KO 3

1960
Feb 4 Alphonse Halimi Los Angeles, Ca KO 9
-Bantamweight Championship of the World
Mar 15 Ward Yee San Antonio, Tx W 10
Apr 10 Pimi Barajas Torreon, Mexico TK 7
May 23 Kenji Yonekura Tokyo, Japan W 15
-Bantamweight Championship of the World
Aug 12 Jesse "Chuy" Rodriguez Tampico, Mexico TK 4
Aug 30 Eloy Sanchez Juarez, Mexico LT 8
-Becerra announced his retirement from the ring (only to return later)

1962
Oct 13 Alberto Martinez Guadalajara, Mexico W 6

Record courtesy of Tracy Callis, Historian, International Boxing Research Organization

Every Mother's Fear
07-08-2012, 08:40 PM
I think Becerra is perhaps the most underrated bantam great of all time. In fact one of the vastly underrated fighters of any division. He was a force. Boxing was deprived of one of it's great match ups when Becerra retired. The Walt Ingram fight took the will to fight out of him.

If not for that tragedy we would have had one of the great match ups of all time. Becerra v. Eder Jofre! While I would pick Jofre I would not have been surprised if Beccera pulled out a narrow decision. Jofre would have still been a young fighter and would not have hit his full stride by then.

Anyway, hell of an article by Dan Cuoco. It's great to read about my youthful heroes from the ever dimming past.

EMF

Dan1213
07-09-2012, 05:47 PM
I think Becerra is perhaps the most underrated bantam great of all time. In fact one of the vastly underrated fighters of any division. He was a force. Boxing was deprived of one of it's great match ups when Becerra retired. The Walt Ingram fight took the will to fight out of him.

If not for that tragedy we would have had one of the great match ups of all time. Becerra v. Eder Jofre! While I would pick Jofre I would not have been surprised if Beccera pulled out a narrow decision. Jofre would have still been a young fighter and would not have hit his full stride by then.

EMF

I agree. Becerra is vastly underrated. And he possessed true one-punch knockout power. I believe Jofre would have beaten him, but it would have been a war.

When Eder was coming up he kept reading about world bantamweight champion Jose Becerra of Mexico, He read about what a murderous puncher he was and how he had dethroned the brilliant Alphonse Halimi in a thrilling fight in Los Angeles. And how in their return match before a crowd of 32,000 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, Becerra well behind on points going into the ninth round, suddenly exploded a short hook on Halimi’s chin which stretched him out on the canvas where he was counted out.

“It was my ambition to fight Becerra. I didn’t care where. But that very year Becerra was unlucky enough to be responsible for the death of Walt Ingram, whom he had boxed in Mexico. I don’t think he wanted to fight too much after that. He continued for another year, or until he himself was knocked out over the weight in Mexico by Eloy Sanchez. Then he did retire.” Eder Jofre quote from article in Boxing & Wrestling in 1963.