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Best Boxers of All Time From Arizona

Updated on April 28, 2015


Who is the best featherweight boxer ever?

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Chalky Wright (Willcox, Arizona)

Chalky Wright is the former featherweight world champion and he retired sporting a record of: 162-45-19 with 83 knockouts to his credit. Wright is known for his two fisted punching power and he had a stiff, accurate jab as well. In 1997 Wright was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Wright was a power puncher but he also had solid boxing skills although he had the misfortune of boxing in the same era as Willie Pep. Either way you spin it Weight is a legend in the featherweight ranks of professional boxing.

Chalky Wright's best wins came from defeating the likes of Joey Archibald, Sal Bartolo, Willie Joyce and Lulu Costantino.

Chalky Wright Strikes a Pose

Chalky Wright is the former featherweight champion of the world. He took on all comers including Henry Armstrong and Willie Pep.
Chalky Wright is the former featherweight champion of the world. He took on all comers including Henry Armstrong and Willie Pep. | Source

Michael Carbajal's Top Wins

Humberto Gonzalez
Melchor Cob Castro
Robinson Cuesta
Domingo Sosa
Jorge Arce
Five of Michael Carbajal's biggest victories came against these prizefighters.

Michael Carbajal (Phoenix, Arizona)

"Little Hands of Stone" had an excellent amateur career culminating in him winning a Silver Medal in the 1988 Olympics. As a professional he excelled even more by becoming a four time junior flyweight king. Carbajal retired with a mark of: 49-4 with 33 knockouts on his resume. Carbajal, at his best, was an offensive boxer- puncher. His body punching and right hands were deadly but at the same time he could circle the ring and stick the jab when needed. Carbajal fought in the fight of the year in 1993 against Humberto Gonzalez and he won Fighter of the Year honors that year also.

Michael Carbajal's biggest victories came from beating Humberto Gonzalez, Melchor Cob- Castro, Jorge Arce and Domingo Sosa.

Michael Carbajal vs. Chiquita Gonzalez

Michael Carbajal and Humberto Gonzales engaged in three thrilling battles.
Michael Carbajal and Humberto Gonzales engaged in three thrilling battles. | Source

John Henry Lewis (Phoenix, Arizona)

John Henry Lewis is the former light heavyweight champion of the world. His final ring tally stands at: 97-10-4 with 57 knockouts on his docket. Lewis held his crown for four years and his jab and right hand were his bread and butter. Fast, accurate and powerful punches came from this Hall of Famer boxer.

Mr. Lewis had some big wins but none bigger than topping Bob Olin (For the 175 pound Crown), Johnny Risko, Len Harvey and James Braddock.

John Henry Lewis

John Henry Lewis is the former 175 pound (light heavyweight champion) king of professional boxing.
John Henry Lewis is the former 175 pound (light heavyweight champion) king of professional boxing. | Source

Louie Espinoza

Louie Espinoza is the former king of the junior featherweights and the featherweights.
Louie Espinoza is the former king of the junior featherweights and the featherweights. | Source

Louie Espinoza (Winkleman, Arizona)

"Sharpshooter" is a former junior featherweight and featherweight world champion and he retired posting a solid record reading: 52-12-2 with 44 big knockouts. Somewhat slow of foot and hand but he had solid power, steel chin and he knew how to cut off the ring and punch without getting tired. He took on all comers and even his losses were either very close or he was past his prime when they happened.

Louie Espinoza's best wins came from topping boxers such as: Maurizio Stecca, Jerome Coffee, Mike Ayala and Tommy Valoy.

Michael Carbajal Highlights (Video)

Jose Benavidez (Phoenix, Arizona)

Jose Benavidez is a top rated junior welterweight boxer who as of 2015 holds a record of: 22 wins, no losses and 15 knockouts. As an amateur boxer Benavidez is an 11 time National Champion who accumulated an awesome record of: 120-5. As a professional Benavidez has shown that he is not yet a master of anything but he is on the other hand very good at everything. He can box, brawl on the inside, go to the body or stick and move.

Jose Benavidez has some good victories including wins against Mauricio Herrera, Abraham Alvarez, Josh Sosa and Henry Auraad.

Jose Benavidez in Training

Jose Benavidez is a former amateur stand out and current 140 pound contender in the paid ranks.
Jose Benavidez is a former amateur stand out and current 140 pound contender in the paid ranks. | Source

Abel Ramos (Casa Grande, Arizona)

Abel Ramos had a distinguished career in the amateur ranks. He was on the U.S. National boxing team and he also won a bronze medal in the U.S. National Championships in 2010. As a professional Ramos has a record of 11-0-2 with 6 knockouts. This boxer's greatest qualities are his footwork and accurate counter punching ability along with his combination punching technique.

Abel Ramos has several quality wins including victories against: Carlos Villa, Rodolfo Armenta, Cassius Clay and Jeremiah Torres.

Boxing Glove Quality

Cast your vote for Cleto Reyes Boxing Gloves

Bobby Pacho (Yuma, Arizona)

"Kid Mexico" fought and was world ranked as a lightweight and as a welterweight boxer. He finished his ring career with a resume reading: 79-71-18 with 42 knockouts on is docket. He had solid power in his left hook and he was fast with his hands. Pacho's weakness was his porous defense.

Bobby Pacho's best wins came from toppling Al Smith, Glen Lee, Johnny Stevens and Spider Hewitt.

Boxing Comebacks (Video)

Birthplace of Donald Frye (Phoenix, Arizona)

Don Frye (Phoenix, Arizona)

The Predator kickboxed and boxed and his boxing record started and ended with a record of 1 win, zero losses and a knockout. As a UFC fighter he tanged with the likes of Ken Shamrock. Aside from boxing and the UFC Frye also fought in Pride and he took up wrestling in Japan.

# Please leave your thoughts on these pugilists or boxing in general by putting comments in the capsule at the bottom of this page.

Jesus Gonzalez

In the amateur ranks Jesus Gonzalez won the National Boxing Championships.
In the amateur ranks Jesus Gonzalez won the National Boxing Championships. | Source

Jesus Gonzalez (Phoenix, Arizona)

"El Martillo" won the National boxing championship a a middleweight amateur and as a professional he competed as a middleweight and a super middleweight. He retired with a record of 27-2 with14 knockouts. A skilled boxer with a good jab, nice footwork and solid defensive skills.

Jesus Gozalez's biggest wins inside the squared circle came from defeating: Francisco Sierra, Nathan Martin, Durrell Richardson and Marcos Primera.

Scott Walker vs. Julio Cesar Chavez

Scott Waler was stopped in two rounds by J.C. Chavez in 1996. Chavez had a record of 95-1-1 at the time of the bout.
Scott Waler was stopped in two rounds by J.C. Chavez in 1996. Chavez had a record of 95-1-1 at the time of the bout. | Source

Scott Walker (Mesa, Arizona)

"The Pink Cat" fought in the junior welterweight (140 pound) division and retired from the prize ring sporting a record of: 25-7-1 with 13 knockouts. Walker had limited power and average speed but his heart and fighting spirit can never been questioned.

Scott Walker's biggest accomplishments came from beating the likes of Alexis Arguello, Francisco Cuesta, Louis Ramirez and Wayne Bourdreaux.

© 2015 Buster Johnson


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      Henry Parra 6 months ago

      You should change the title to Native Arizonians.

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      Henry Parra 6 months ago

      He moved here from Texas as a boy in 1942.

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      Buster Johnson 7 months ago from Alabama

      Zora Folley would have been in my top 3 but he was born in Texas and then he later moved to Arizona. Thanks for the comments.

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      Schoolboy Jerry Cheatham 7 months ago

      Zora Folley great fighter should be 5 schoolboy jerry cheatham 6 chuck walker 76 Olympics 7

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      Henry Parra 7 months ago

      Zora Folley, My Dad, and a Mysterious Death

      His name was Zora Folley. Unless you're a boxing history buff, or an ESPN Classic junkie, you probably haven't heard of him, but he's considered one of the best heavyweight boxers to never win the title.

      He was born in Dallas, Texas in 1932, and moved to Chandler, Arizona in 1942. Baseball became his sport of choice. He entered the U.S. Army at the age of sixteen, claiming he was eighteen. His real beginning as a boxer was probably due to a quirk of fate: He had scant boxing experience when he was asked to replace an injured contestant--his platoon sergeant, as it turned out--in a match scheduled at his base at Fort Ord, California.

      The match was originally set up for the post heavyweight title, but that title was held by Folley's injured platoon sergeant. Folley lost the match, but decided to stay with boxing, becoming an absorbed student of the sport. A year later, Folley beat the man who'd beat him during his first match. Soon after, he won the 6th Army championship, then went on to win the All-Army and All-Service titles. He fought in the Korean War, earned five battle stars, and left the Army in 1953.

      Folley turned pro soon after leaving the Army. He became a top contender during Floyd Patterson's reign as heavyweight champion, but never got the chance to fight Patterson for the title. That was partly because of a loss to Henry Cooper in 1958 (Folley won the rematch in 1961), but some claim that Patterson manager Cus D’Amato (who decades later would become Mike Tyson's manager) ducked Folley, considering him too great a risk to Patterson's championship.

      With his hoped-for bout with Patterson never coming about, his chance at the heavyweight title came in 1967, at the age of thirty-five. His opponent was Muhammad Ali. It would be Ali's last fight before his three year ban from boxing. Despite the fact that many boxing cognoscenti considered Folley to be in the twilight of his career, Folley gave Ali one of his toughest pre-ban battles, the fact Ali knocked him out in the seventh round notwithstanding.

      Ali saw Folley's son crying in the crowd after the fight. Ali sought the boy out, hugged him, and told him that no one could have beaten his dad had the fight happened years earlier, in Folley's prime.

      Folley went on to fight for three more years after his defeat at the hands of Ali, although at irregular intervals. He retired after Mac Foster stopped him in the first round in 1970. His career closed out at 79 wins, 11 loses, 6 draws, and 43 knockouts.

      Denied a chance at the title during his prime, Folley could have chosen to wallow in self-pity in a downward spiral toward a parody of his former self. Instead, Folley defied the stereotype of the washed-up fighter by becoming a pillar of the community in his home town of Chandler. A well-spoken, thoughtful gentleman, liked by most everyone, he was elected to the city council. In an article on the Sweet Science website, Pete Ehrmann wrote this: If he’d been the stereotypical down-and-out ex-pug, the circumstances surrounding Folley’s death probably wouldn’t have raised many eyebrows. But in fact, Folley actually gilded his stature as one of Chandler’s top citizens after his retirement from boxing. Always dapper and well-spoken, he became a salesman for Rudolph Chevrolet, and when the city fathers were looking for someone to fill a vacancy on the City Council, Folley was an easy choice. The happily married father of eight was the picture of the kind of post-boxing success that eluded so many former fighters.

      Sadly, Folley's squeaky-clean image was tarnished in the eyes of some by the intrigue surrounding his death, in 1972. Folley had been visiting a friend and two women in a motel in Tucson. As the story went, Folley and his friend engaged in horseplay near the pool, seeing who could throw the other in, and Folley ended up in the pool. One of the women ran to the motel office to report that Folley was badly hurt. Folley was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died about an hour after midnight. He was forty years old.

      A motel clerk told a local reporter that Folley's injuries included a large bump on the forehead, a hole on top of Folley’s head, and another wound in the back on his head. People would soon question how Folley could suffer such extensive injuries by simply falling into a pool. Over the years, many theories have made the rounds as to how Folley really died, but with the autopsy and police report long lost or destroyed, it appears that the questions surrounding his death will never be put to rest.


      The questions surrounding Folley's death are harbored mostly by friends of Folley's, Chandler residents, and some boxing history enthusiasts. I harbor that intrigue too, since I feel a connection to Folley, however thin.

      It's a "two degrees of separation" thing: my dad, for a short time, became acquainted with Mr. Folley.

      My dad was in the Army during Korea, completing his basic training at Fort Ord, California. (I was also stationed there after graduating from Army flight school, and you can read about an experience I had at one of Dad's old haunts here.) After watching him during hand-to-hand combat training, the D.I.'s decided that Dad had a talent for boxing. After he finished basic, he was selected to serve as cadre at a basic training company, with the eventual plan that he would go to Airborne training before deployment to Korea. The real reason Dad got held behind in a cadre slot was his boxing talent. Dad's company commander felt that he had the potential to excel as a light-heavyweight.

      Dad, within a few months, took on several other boxers at Fort Ord, and was undefeated after a fairly concentrated string of fights. His trainers decided that he was ready to fight the post light-heavyweight champ, but they were unhappy with Dad because he didn't enthusiastically apply himself to defensive fundamentals. That is, he would rely on reflexes and quickness to evade punches, and was sloppy with his guard. They felt that a certain heavyweight on post, known for his amazing quickness and attention to fundamentals, could teach Dad a lesson or three.

      That man was Zora Folley.

      Although Dad's trainers called it a sparring session, there was a fairly sizable crowd at hand to see an undefeated light-heavyweight take on Folley, who was at the time either the All-Army or All-Service champ. (I can't remember, recalling Dad's accounts, which title Folley held during the "sparring session.") However, Folley knocked Dad down three times in the first round. The fight was over.

      Dad was jarred by his encounter with Mr. Folley. He'd had little trouble with fellow light-heavyweights he'd faced, and was beginning to feel invincible in his weight class. He saw a 6th Army title in his future, maybe more. He didn't necessary expect to get the best of an accomplished heavyweight, but he did expect to at least give him a good fight. "I didn't see half of his punches coming," Dad told me. It was a sobering experience for a guy who'd previously relied on a defensive style perhaps best described as "Muhammad Ali Lite." Dad talked of quitting. His trainers urged otherwise. Folley himself paid a visit to the barracks to encourage Dad to continue. Although he wasn't swayed from his discouragement by Folley's visit, nor by the urging of his trainers, he was impressed by Folley the man. "He was a first-class guy," Dad said, "a real gentleman."

      I've often told people that Zora Folley ended my dad's boxing career. However, I'm guilty of simplifying a bit too much. The fact is, I'll never know whether Dad would have chosen to continue with boxing (although he told me he was leaning strongly toward quitting), because soon after his fight with Folley, Dad came down with rheumatic fever. His decision was made for him, at that point.


      High-profile assassinations will fascinate folks for decades. Like many people, I often wonder if there is more to the JFK, RFK, and MLK killings than meets the eye. I find myself hoping that we'll know the real truth in my lifetime.

      By contrast, the death of Zora Folley isn't much mentioned in magazine articles or TV

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      Steve 14 months ago

      Hellllllooooooo!!! Anyone here heard of Zora Folley? Definitely should be on the list.