One of the great smaller weight fighters of the late 70s and early 80s put on a dominant show nearly 40 years ago in Las Vegas. That’s when, Salvador Sanchez successfully defended his WBC and Lineal Featherweight Titles with an overwhelming 8th Round TKO over former Super Bantamweight champion, Wilfredo Gomez.
August 21st, 1981, the Mexican born Sanchez stepped through the ropes at the Caesars Palace Indoor Pavilion in Vegas to take on the Puerto Rican superstar Gomez.
Gomez had previously set a record that still stands today with 17 consecutive title defense victories by knockout, as a 122 lbs. champion from 1977-80.
Sanchez burst on the worldwide scene, when he upset American Danny “Little Red” Lopez by 13th round TKO in February of 1980 to capture the WBC belt, and then after one successful title defense won the rematch with Lopez by 14th round KO in June 1980.
Sanchez won four more fights to improve at that time to a 40-1-1 record and having won 20 consecutive fights, when the August ’81 fight with Gomez was set.
From the very beginning of the opening round Sanchez swarmed Gomez and actually floored him with a left hook midway through the first round. And, it was apparent as the fight wore on that Sanchez was the stronger puncher with a more relentless strategy that backed the smaller Gomez around the ring.
With both of Gomez’s eyes swelling shut, Sanchez stomped on the gas in the eighth round scoring with huge combinations and buckling Gomez’s knees along the ropes. Sanchez eventually floored him again with another big right hand. Gomez rose wearily at the count of 6, but clearly was a beaten man, and referee Carlos Padilla stopped the fight. It was the first time Gomez had been beaten as a professional.
Sanchez’s popularity continued, as he defended the title three more times in the next 11 months, including a 15th round July 1982 stoppage of Azumah Nelson (who went on to become a world champion himself).
Gomez dropped back down to 122 lbs., winning several more title fights. He later also won Featherweight and Super Featherweight World Titles, too. He fought until the late 1980s retiring with a record of 44-3-1 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1995.
Unfortunately, the career and life of Sanchez ended suddenly at just 23 years old in a car accident in Mexico in August of 1982. It was nearly one year to the day after the impressive win over Gomez.
Sanchez is still revered, as a Mexican sports hero, four decades after his title run and his life was cut short. He ended with an 44-1-1 record and went into the Hall of Fame in 1991.
And 38 years ago, he emphatically won over another great fighter to grow his legend.