Napoles ranks with the greatest welterweights in history
Surrounded by his children and grandchildren, former two-time welterweight champion and International Boxing Hall of Fame member Jose Napoles died Friday. He was 79.
“Jose Napoles was one of the most talented welterweight champions in history and his stylish moves in the ring provided countless thrills for boxing fans the world over,” said Hall of Fame Executive Director Edward Brophy. “The Hall of Fame joins the boxing community in mourning the passing of a legend and offers our condolences to his family.”
Nicknamed, “Mantequilla” for his smooth boxing style, Napoles (81-7, 54 KOs) turned professional in 1958. He won 60 of 64 fights, campaigning in the lightweight and junior welterweight before moving up to challenge Curtis Cokes for the welterweight title in 1968.
Napoles tattooed Cokes with various punches, winning by stoppage. They fought again in Mexico City two months later, with Napoles stopping Cokes in 10. Napoles successfully defended against Emile Griffin, and Ernie Lopez, before being stopped on cuts by Billy Backus. Napoles regained his crown seven months later by stopping Backus in eight bloody rounds.
An attempt at middleweight championship honors failed when he was stopped by the much bigger Carlos Monzon in 1974.
Napoles defended his welterweight belt nine time before losing to John H. Stracey a year later. He announced his retirement after the fight. All told, Napoles registered 13 successful defenses of his title.
In 1990, Napoles was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.