Mexican style is the new buzz word in boxing today.
So where did it originate?
Many point toward Mexico’s Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. as the main influence of the fighting style that combines aggressiveness and pressure fighting with an emphasis on the left hook. The prizefighter from Culiacan mauled down more than 100 opponents during his reign of terror for two decades.
However, Chavez was not the inventor of that style; there were other Mexicans who manifested the pressure style that has become so popular not only in Mexico, but throughout the entire Southwest. Some today even call it the “West Coast style.”
For more than 100 years Mexican or Mexican-American boxers have refrained from the “hit and not get hit” philosophy and preferred the more popular “seek and destroy” motto that has its benefits and pratfalls. In the 1890s, Solly Garcia Smith claimed the featherweight title in the beginning when prizefighting first required boxing gloves. The Los Angeles prizefighter wasn’t the only pressure style fighter in those early days. John L. Sullivan brought that in as a heavyweight.
Others followed in the early days, with prizefighters like Harry Greb, Battling Ortega, Mickey Walker, Henry Armstrong, Baby Arizmendi, Jake LaMotta and the mighty Kid Azteca of Mexico City, who fought 252 pro bouts spanning 1929 to 1961. Of his 192 wins, 114 came by knockout. He most definitely influenced a whole lot of Mexican fighters that followed, such as Vicente Saldivar, Ruben Olivares and many others.
So when JCC came along there was already a style that Mexican fans preferred and fighters adhered to. Chavez was perhaps the best of the Mexican assassins, guys whose sole intent was to render his opponent unconscious or incapacitated.
“Chavez was a deadly fighter in his day,” said the late Johnny Ortiz in an interview in 2004. “His body punches were devastating.”
Body blows are the staple of Mexican fighters, who need to open up their opponent’s defense with some crunching hooks to the liver or stomach. It’s a necessity when fighting runners or safety first boxers. Since Chavez, there have been Mexican fighters streaming out of Mexico with that style, like a long conveyor belt. The style has permeated the entire Southwest region of the U.S. and has given us fighters like Diego Corrales, Fernando Vargas, Israel Vazquez and newcomers like Mikey Garcia.
If you ask any of the kids just turning pro, they’ll tell you they grew up watching Julio Cesar Chavez fights.
Trainers in the Southwest region are preparing their fighters in that seek and destroy style even as amateurs. They use the amateurs as a training device, not to prepare them for Olympic medals.
One boxer, Saul “Neno” Rodriguez, admits that he only wanted knockouts as an amateur. After 15 pro fights, his style has not changed.
“The only difference now is I have better defense,” said Rodriguez, who lives in Riverside, Calif. and trains with Eduardo Garcia. “But I still go for knockouts.”
Abel Sanchez, who trains Gennady Golovkin, has vast experience accrued training former world champions Terry Norris, Lupe Aquino and Miguel Angel Gonzalez.
“I train all of my fighters to fight in the Mexican style, to be assassins,” said Sanchez. “It’s the only way you can protect yourself from bad decisions from the judges.”
Kazakhstan’s Golovkin came to Sanchez with all of the tools. He just needed the mentality and that quickly came once in California.
Tonight, he fights Marco Antonio Rubio, who knows all about the style Golovkin uses. It’s a style that Rubio has implemented for his entire career and has led to 51 of his wins coming by knockout.
It’s a battle between style and substance.