Today marks the fifteenth anniversary of the death of the ring legend that was Carlos Monzon. A young Carlos was born into poverty in the slums of Argentina. His background and complicated childhood installed a deep anger and hatred in him, something that made him the ferocious fighter he was. However Carlos could never control his anger and ended up on the wrong side of the law several times outside the ring.
As a professional “Escopeta” (translation Shotgun) lost 3 and drew 3 of his first 20 bouts. However he continued to press forward and built up an impressive record beating mostly local fighters exclusively in South America. By 1970 his record stood at 67-3-9, viewed by most in the game as nothing more than a durable fighter, Monzon secured a title fight against Middleweight Champion Nino Benvenuti who was making the fifth defence of both hi s WBA and WBC titles.
Monzon was a supreme physical specimen, tall and rangy he had a tendency to push his punches, or that how it seemed but it was effective. Carlos Monzon controlled the pace from the beginning and in the 12th, a right hand landed perfectly on Benvenuti's chin, on unsteady legs Benevenuti’s corner came into the ring signalling the end (View the fight here) and the beginning of a new era in the middleweight division.
Monzón returned to his native Argentina and won three fights in a row all second round knockouts , next was a rematch with Benevenuti, this time he needed only three rounds in Monte Carlo when his the Benevenuti corner threw in the towel.
In 1972 Monzon was jointly awarded the ring magazine fighter of the year award, alongside Muhammad Ali. Over the next several years Monzon compiled an impressive streak of stoppages including his 14 round stoppage of Emille Griffith, becoming only the second man to stop the former three-time world champion. However outside the ring Monzon’s darker side was beginning to emerge. In 1973 he was shot by his wife “said to have been an accident”. The dark haired handsome Monzon had a string of romances while married including a turbulent romance with Susana Gimenez, whom he had met while staring in a movie.
After his seventh round stoppage of Jose Napoles in 1974 the WBC stripped Monzon of the title for failing to defend against their mandatory challenger Rodrigo Valdez. Monzon continued to defend his WBA title then in 1976 challenged to win back his WBC strap now held by Rodrigo Valdez. A week before the fight Valdez’s brother was shot to death in a barroom fight in Colombia. Valdez was already in Monte Carlo for the fight and wanted to return home to join his family in mourning. But he was contractually bound to fight Monzon. He lost a unanimous decision in a bout many at ringside say he looked disinterested.
The following year Valdez was given another title crack, this time came out with intent and in the second round floored Monzon for the first time in his thirteen year career. The champion recovered en-route to another unanimous decision win. The following month (August 1977), Carlos Monzon announced his retirement with a record of, 87-3-9, and (59). He never did loss again after those three early setbacks and his only losses where via points.
Monzon disappeared from the public eye, but his turbulent life continued. In 1988 Monzon was convicted for the murder of his second wife Alcia Muniz, who was according to the investigation thrown off her second floor balcony to her death, Monzon himself also fell from the balcony injuring a shoulder.
In 1995, Monzon was given a weekend furlough (temporary leave) from prison to visit his family and kids, upon returning to jail after the weekend, he crashed near the jail building, dying instantly. He was 52.
Monzon is laid to rest at Cementerio Municipal de Sante, in Santa Fe, Argentina. A life-size figure of Monzon, wearing his championship belt, with his hands rose in victory, stands atop his grave.