Salvador Sanchez vs Azumah Nelson – Highlights (Epic FIGHT & KNOCKOUT)


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July 21st, 1982. 37 years ago, “The Invincible Eagle” Salvador Sanchez made the 10th defense of his WBC Featherweight Championship against future ATG Azumah Nelson aka “The Professor” in a highly underrated classic overshadowed by a number of superfights that took place in the same year such as Aaron Pryor vs Alexis Arguello, Wilfredo Gomez vs Lupe Pintor and Bobby Chacon vs Rafael Limon IV.

Prefight records; Sanchez 43(31)-1-1, Nelson 13(10)-0.

Although they were both around the same age (Sanchez at 23, Nelson at 24), their level of experiences were far different at this point; Sanchez’s career began in May 1975 where he was fast tracked due to his immense talent and became the WBC Featherweight Champion at 21. He had since successfully defended the title 9 times.

On the other hand, Nelson was largely unknown outside of Ghana with only 13 pro bouts and he was a last minute replacement for top contender Mario Miranda who pulled out of the fight. Thus, only 5575 fans showed up at Madison Square Garden that night as there were no expectations of an entertaining bout.

However, those who did was treated to a surprisingly thrilling night of boxing.

Despite his inexperience at top level, Nelson put up a tremendous performance as he fought with a nothing-to-lose attitude against one of the Best P4P Fighters at that time.

The fight was an all out war from the opening bell where both warriors battled it back and forth to produce one of the greatest World Featherweight Title Fights of All Time; Nelson as the huge underdog fought with nothing held back from the opening bell, starting with and maintaining a fast pace for the most part of the first half where he connected with a number of clean shots particularly right hands on the champion.

Up till the 6th frame, Sanchez had not established a pace yet as he was taking his time to figure the his little known opponent out whilst showing immense patience despite seemingly overwhelmed by the hungry Ghanaian challenger.

In the next round, the momentum shifted in his favor when he wobbled Nelson with a thunderous left hook followed by a barrage of punches that floored him. From then on, it was apparent that the more experienced Sanchez had found his pace as he move and countered effectively as well as displaying a solid defense against Azumah who continued to pressure him and managed to rock the champion towards the end of the 11th with a left hook.

Entering the final round, Sanchez who was renown for his unstoppable stamina came out rejuvenated for the umpteenth time and proceeded to score the 2nd knockdown of the fight with a hard right hand followed by a pulverizing left hook that staggered the challenger badly before falling into a corner.

The determined Nelson rose to his feet despite being badly hurt and exhausted but the champion wasted no time and went for the kill; connecting with more clean blows which prompted referee Tony Perez to halt the bout at the 1:47 mark in the 15th and final round to end the epic, grueling battle.

By the time of the stoppage, 2 of the judges had Sanchez ahead with scores of 135-131 and 134-131 while 1 judge favored Nelson 133-132.

“He was a very strong fighter with a lot of heart. He came to take my title. I wanted to finish him off earlier but he was too strong.”
– Salvador Sanchez

Nelson’s manager John Kermah stated that if Nelson was more experienced, he could have pulled off the upset;

“If Azumah had had a few more fights he would have won. Next time you’ll see a different Azumah Nelson.”

Unfortunately, this was Salvador Sanchez’s last fight as he tragically passed way on August 12th 1982 at only 23 years of age in an automobile accident.

His final record stood at 44(32)-1-1. During his illustrious albeit short 7 year career, he garnered wins over top oppositions such as Roberto Castanon, Pat Cowdell, Nicky Perez, Juan Laporte, Pat Ford, Ruben Castillo, Wilfredo Gomez, Azumah Nelson & Danny Lopez (2x).

Sanchez is considered to be one of the Greatest Mexican Fighters of All Time and was posthumously inducted in the IBHOF in 1991.

As for Nelson, his performance elevated him to top contender status and he went on to win the WBC Featherweight Title and WBC Super Featherweight Title (2x) in a career that spanned through 4 different decades where he garnered wins over notable oppositions in Juan Laporte, Danilo Cabrera, Pat Cowdell, Calvin Grove, Juvenal Ordenes, Jim McDonnell, Irving Mitchell, Lupe Suarez, Jeff Fenech, Jesse James Leija, Wilfredo Gomez, Gabriel Ruelas (2x), Marcos Villasana (2x) & Mario Martinez (2x).

The Professor is widely considered as the Greatest African Fighter of All Time.

Enjoy this highlight of an underrated Featherweight classic, and remember to SUBSCRIBE! Muchas gracias.