Born May 3, 1943, in Mexico City, Mexico, Vicente Saldivar was a fan favorite every time he stepped into the ring. He was known for his action-packed style and incredible skill set. Vicente “Zurdo De Oro” Saldivar, won many fights, but more importantly the love of his people.
Vicente and his family grew up in an impoverished borough in Mexico City, however, that didn’t stop the young boy from taking a liking to the sport of boxing. His will and determination would motivate his drive to become a world-class fighter.
Vicente was regarded by many as one of the most disciplined fighters to have ever laced them up. His training, sacrifice, and dedication made him a valuable commodity in the sport. Not only would he knock guys out in the later rounds, but he was also able to box when he wanted to and his ability to lure his opponents in so that he can counter them from an awkward southpaw position made his fights quite the spectacle for the fans in the seats.
Vicente started boxing at a very young age and compiled a great amateur record even winning the Mexican golden gloves, his dedication would eventually get him a spot on the Mexican National team to represent his country at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Italy.
Soon after the Olympics, he made his pro debut on February 2, 1961, in Oaxaca, Mexico. On the fast track to success, Vicente built his resume one win at a time and began to climb the ranks of the featherweight division winning over the crowds in the process. His impeccable defensive and aggressive style was highly favored in the boxing world.
It wouldn’t be until his 16th fight that Vicente would taste defeat for the first time against a popular Cuban fighter named Baby Luis. The disappointment didn’t come by his opponent being the better man, nor for lack of skill by Vicent, but by disqualification. The loss would halt Vicente’s uprising as an undefeated fighter momentarily. Not long after that Vicente would avenge his loss by fighting the Cuban again in Mexico City this time winning by KO and proving again why he was destined to be the man at the top of his division.
In 1964 Vicente would take on another Mexican fighter Juan Ramirez and fight for the Mexican featherweight title. After beating Ramirez and winning the Mexican title, Vicente faced his biggest challenge yet against another heavily favored Cuban fighter Ultiminio Ramos/Sugar Ramos who was hungry for a unification bout for the World Featherweight championship belt. Vicente who was taking on all comers went on to win that fight in a huge upset unifying the WBC and WBA featherweight championships crowing him the first Mexican to ever hold the featherweight title.
Now crowned king of the Featherweight division, Vicente had many challengers ready to take his belt, however, as they rose up the ranks to fight Vicente, he would send them back down, in turn holding the record for the most successful title defense in the featherweight division.
No Superman Without A Kryptonite
And because no boxer gains global notoriety without at least one major opposition, for Vicente that opposition would come from across the pond, by a young Welch man named Howard Winstone. Winstone’s desire to dethrone the 5 ft. 3 inch Mexican was almost within reach at the first of an epic trilogy in a unanimous decision in favor of Vicente.
This famous three-part fight matchup with Winstone would cement Vincent’s legacy for the critics and the fans. When they met again for the rematch much to Winstones Dismay Vicente would take the decision in what many thought could have gone either way. The second fight was such a great contest that decade’s later critics hailed it as one of the greatest fights of all time.
Winstone came up short in both fights but the matches were so close that a decisive victory from either fighter was needed in order to put to rest who the real undisputed champ at the featherweight division was.
It would be in the 12th round of another action-packed match where Vicente would put to rest any doubts of his featherweight weight dominance and keep his belt winning by TKO again proving why he was the best Featherweight in the world, some would argue ever, few would disagree.
After The Fight
Vicente would retire after the third Winstone fight vacating the belt and leaving it to Howard Winstone. But the urge of the fight game was too much for Vicente to bear and Vicente would make his comeback after nearly two years out of the ring. Vicente would beat his next two opponents and regain the featherweight championship but would then lose it against Kuniaki Shabata, an elite Japanese fighter in the featherweight division.
In 1971 Vicente would retire for good and spend the rest of his days in Mexico. The love and admiration Vicente gained from the Mexican people showed how much he meant not only to the sport of boxing but also to his country. Spectators even shed tears of joy when Vicente beat Winstone.
Vicente “El Zurdo De Oro” Saldivar left his mark in the sport and paved the way for future champions in his weight division. Among the likes of, Marco Antonio Barrera, Eric Morales, and Juan Manuel Marquez just to name a few. It is because of dedicated souls to the sport of boxing like Vicente’s that still make it one of the most talked about events today.
Vicente would see his last days in Mexico at the age of 42 passing due to heart complications. But Vicente lives on. He was inducted into the international boxing hall of fame, in the late nineties and will forever be one of the best Mexican boxers ever.