Two time welterweight world champion Jose “Mantequilla” Napoles died on Friday in Mexico City aged 79, the World Boxing Council announced on its website.
Cuba-born Napoles forged a Hall of Fame career, with a record of 81-7, including 54 knockouts.
He was granted Mexican citizenship in 1969 after beating Texan Curtis Cokes in a world title fight.
Napoles’ final bout was a losing one in front of 40,000 fans against Briton John H Stracey, who paid tribute to his former rival on Friday.
“I’m so very proud to have shared a ring with the great Jose Napoles,” Stracey said.
“What a magnificent fighter he was and what a great champion. Look how long he reigned as a champion. This is such a sad day.”
“Mantequilla" was born on April 13, 1940 in Santiago de Cuba, but as a young man he traveled to Mexico, and was soon thrilling fans with his lion hearted power and steadfast courage, so much so that they promptly adopted him as one of their very own.
The then president of Mexico, Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, granted him Mexican nationality, exactly one day after he was crowned world welterweight champion, by defeating Texan Curtis Cokes on points, on April 18, 1969, at the Inglewood Forum, in a promotion by George Parnassus.
During his career, "Mantequilla" defeated the best fighters of his era, including Curtis Cokes, Emile Griffith, Ernie Lopez and Alfredo Urbina.
On December 6, 1975, in a titanic fight, he lost the world crown against Briton John H Stracey. During his career he hammered and shaped a tremendously impressive record of 81 wins with 54 knockouts and just 7 losses. Jose Napolis is forever revered as one of the Fifty Plus KO Elite.
John H Stracey said: "I`m so very proud to have shared a ring with the Great Jose Napolis. What a magnificent fighter he was and what a great champion. Look how long he reigned as a champion. This is such a sad day."
In his chosen professionalism, he was directed and guided by Cubans Cuco Conde and Kid Rapidez, manager and coach respectively.
José Angel was a close friend of Don José Sulaiman and Mauricio Sulaiman, Presidents of the WBC, who were always took care of him and his health.
The Telmex-Telcel Ring Program, under the leadership of Don Carlos Slim, granted him a lifetime pension and the services of the Mexican Social Security Institute.
The World Boxing Council is in deep mourning with the departure of one of the very greatest welterweight champions of all time and one of the most beloved people in this sport. A fierce competitor in the ring, he was a kind gentleman outside of it.
Rest in Peace Dear champion! Thank you for the wonderful everlasting memories.