Manny Pacquiao’s attempt to dethrone Lucas Matthysse on July 15 in Malaysia will mark only the 11th time that the Philippines and Argentina will figure in a world title fight.
While the Philippines’s rivalry with Mexico has reached mythical proportions, it’s head-to-head with Argentina is not as storied although the men who figured in the mano a mano are nothing to scoff at.
Filipino fighters hold a razor-thin 5-4 edge over their Argentine rivals against one draw.
Leading the Filipino victors was Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde, who beat Vicente Derado for the world junior-lightweight title in 1966 in Manila.
Luisito Espinosa followed it up 31 years later when he stopped Carlos Rios for the world feather crown in 1997 in South Cotabato.
Nonito Donaire is also on the elite cast with a win over Omar Narvaez while John Riel Casimero also added himself with a win over Luis Lazarte in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, in 2012.
Donnie Nietes became the fifth Filipino master after his stoppage of Juan Carlos Reveco only last February.
As for the Argentine winners, flyweight Pascual Perez defeated two Filipinos—Leo Espinosa in 1956 and Dommy Ursua in 1958.
Junior-welter Juan Martin Coggi made it three for Argentine following his knockout of Morris East in Mar del Plata in 1993 and the square-jawed junior-middle Julio Cesar Vazquez was the fourth owing to his second-round disposal of Armand Picar in 1994.
The lone draw was the 1972 junior-lightweight match starring Filipino Ben Villaflor against Victor Echegaray in Villaflor’s adopted home of Honolulu. (Nick Giongco)