Small Island, Big Stars
Small Island, BIG TALENT . . .
MIGUEL COTTO'S PUERTO RICAN ROOTS YIELD HIGH RESULTS FOR PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES AND CELEBRITIES
LAS VEGAS (November 5, 2009) - Jennifer Lopez ...Carlos Beltran ... Roberto Clemente. . .it takes longer to escape a New York City traffic jam than to drive the length of Puerto Rico, which measures only 100 miles by 35 miles. . . Benicio Del Toro... Reggie Jackson...Chi Chi Rodriguez. . .the population of Puerto Rico is about 3.9-million. That means the entire Commonwealth has fewer residents than at least a dozen metropolitan areas in the USA. . .Marc Antony... Carmelo Anthony ... Freddie Prinze Sr. . .yet the number of sports and entertainment stars and superstars produced by this island is overwhelming.
Miguel Cotto, who takes on Manny Pacquiao on Saturday, November 14 live on HBO Pay-Per-View®, is today's brightest boxing star from Puerto Rico, which has produced more champions and legends per square mile than any place in the world.
The island people's lives have been seeped in the love of the game and the thrill of a fight, as Puerto Rico has produced successful baseball and boxing superstars for decades. As for boxing champions, the first of more than 50 world titlists was Sixto Escobar, who twice reigned as bantamweight champion in the mid-'30s. In the '60s, lightweight and junior welterweight champion Carlos Ortiz was the first Puerto Rican to be recognized as a pound-for-pound great.
One decade later, three-division champion Wilfred Benitez established a reputation as the best defensive fighter of his era. Benitez won his first world title at age 17, still a record. In the '70s and '80s, Wilfredo Gomez, who was another three-division titlist, flaunted a rare combination of power and boxing skills. Gomez made 17 successful defenses of the junior featherweight title and knocked out hall of famers Lupe Pintor and Carlos Zarate.
Immediately preceding Cotto was wildly popular Felix "Tito" Trinidad, who won titles at welterweight, junior middleweight, and middleweight. Trinidad reigned as a champion from 1993 to 2001, and defeated Fernando Vargas, Pernell Whitaker, and Oscar De La Hoya.
Other notable Puerto Rican champions: John Ruiz, who was the first Hispanic to win a portion of the world heavyweight title; Carlos DeLeon, who won the WBC cruiserweight crown four times; charismatic junior lightweight and lightweight champion Hector Camacho; power punching two-division champion Edwin Rosario; Esteban DeJesus, who defeated Roberto Duran; light heavyweight champion Jose Torres; and reigning light flyweight champion Ivan Calderon, who is unbeaten in 34 career bouts.
Now it's Cotto's time to perform on the biggest stage of his career and should he be victorious, he will find his place atop the 2009 leader board of great athletes and stars emanating from this small but prideful island.
Categorized List of Fighters, Athletes and Celebrities
Benítez, Wilfred, three division champion, member International Boxing Hall of Fame
Calderón, Iván, reigning light flyweight champion who remains unbeaten
Camacho, Héctor "Macho", sensational junior lightweight and lightweight titlist
Cotto, Miguel, former junior welterweight titlist and reigning welterweight champion
De Jesus, Esteban, lightweight champion who defeated Roberto Duran
De León, Carlos "Sugar", four-time cruiserweight champion
Escalera, Alfredo, junior lightweight champion
Escobar, Sixto, first Puerto Rican World Champion (bantamweight), Hall of Famer
Gomez, Wilfredo, three-division champion, Hall of Famer
Lopez, Juan Manuel, unbeaten reigning junior featherweight champion
Montañez, Pedro, fought for lightweight and welterweight titles, Hall of Famer
Ortiz, Carlos, lightweight and junior welterweight champion, Hall of Famer
Rosario, Edwin "El Chapo", lightweight and junior welterweight champion, Hall of Famer
Ruíz, John, first Hispanic to win a portion of the heavyweight title
Serrano, Samuel, longtime and two-time junior lightweight champion
Trinidad, Felix "Tito", three division champion, Pound-for-Pound legend
Vazquez, Wilfredo, three-division champion
Venegas, Juan Evangelista, first Puerto Rican to win an Olympic Gold Medal (1948)