by Ronnie Nathanielsz
Even as he mourned the death of one of the all-time boxing greats Alexis Arguello of Nicaragua, WBC president Don Jose Sulaiman raised questions about the alleged suicide of Arguello had shot himself in the chest at his home in Managua in an apparent suicide.
Sulaiman speaking to BoxingScene.com, insidesports.ph, Standard Today and Viva Sports noted that Arguello was “a victorious man” having won as Mayor of the Nicaraguan capital of Managua last November and posed the question “how could he kill himself?”
Raising serious doubts over reports that he committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest, Sulaiman said “ he didn’t shoot himself in his head, his mouth. No, he shot himself in his heart. You cannot because if you point to your heart you are pointing sideways.”
Sulaiman said “we are all very sad and we all expect that the right investigation is carried out so that the world will feel satisfied with the investigation.”
We recalled that on its 20th anniversary celebration in New York, the WBC saluted Arguello and world junior lightweight champion Gabriel “Flash” Elorde as the two greatest junior lightweight champions of the world.
Sulaiman said Arguello was “a hero everywhere he went. He was a gentleman, always smiling with a really good sense of humor. He was a warrior in the ring who fell into drugs but recovered himself, rehabilitated himself and became Mayor.”
In his illustrious career, Arguello didn’t fight Elorde but he battled three other Filipinos in successful title defenses.
On April 29, 1978 Arguello scored a 5th round TKO over Rey Tam of Baguio City at The Forum in Inglewood, California in a super featherweight title defense and then scored another 5th round TKO over Rolando Navarrete on April 27, 1980 after which Navarrete went on to win the title from Uganda’s Cornelius Boza Edwards in a 7th round knockout in Viareggio, Italy.
Defending his lightweight title, Arguello took on Hawaii-based Filipino southpaw Andy Ganigan and was knocked down in the first round but came back to score a 5th round knockout when Filipino referee Carlos “Sonny” Padilla counted out the hard-hitting Ganigan in a 15 round WBC lightweight title bout at 3:09 of the fifth round after Ganigan was dropped with one second remaining in the round..
Arguello who was 57 retired in1995 with a record of 82-8 with 65 knockouts and was a champion in three weight divisions and was most remembered for his two epic battles with American Aaron Pryor.
The Nicaraguan stylist moved up to light welterweight to face Pryor in a title fight dubbed “Battle of the Champions” but before a crowd of 23,000 fans at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida was knocked out in the 14th round on November 12,1982.
Chosen as the “Fight of the Year” and the “Fight of the Decade” by Ring Magazine, controversy surrounded the fight amidst claims that Pryor’s trainer Panama Lewis gave his fighter a water bottle that contained a banned substance after the 13th round which is something Pryor vehemently denied.
A rematch was ordered and Pryor proved himself when he knocked out the gallant Arguello at Caesars Palace on September 9,1983.
Bob Arum of Top Rank who promoted the first Arguello-Pryor fight said “that was something I will never, ever forget as long as I live. It was one of the most memorable fights I ever did.”