LIGHTWEIGHT DREAM FIGHT: Alexis Arguello-vs-Ismael Laguna

23.01.04 - By Jim Amato: The “Explosive Thin Man” Arguello, a champion in three weight classes versus the highly underrated “other” lightweight champion from Panama, Ismael Laguna. For all intents and purposes Alexis was at his best boxing at 130 pounds. When he was champion of that division he defeated Bobby Chacon, Boza Edwards, Rolando Navarette, and Bazooka Limon. All of who won the title AFTER Alexis moved to 135 pounds. Arguello won the lightweight title from Jim Watt. His highest profile defense at this weight was his highly competitive knockout of future champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. Alexis never lost any of his titles in the ring.

Ismael Laguna was one of the best pure boxers the lightweight division has seen in the last forty years. Only Pernell Whitaker, Howard Davis, and Hall of Famer Ken Buchanan can compare. To win his first title Ismael out boxed another Hall of Famer, Carlos Ortiz. Ortiz would then outmuscle Laguna in winning two subsequent rematches. Five years later Ismael would regain the title by beating the talented Mando Ramos. He would then lose twice to Buchanan ending his long career. In 75 bouts against many of the worlds best including Vincente Saldivar and Guts Suzuki, Ismael was never stopped. His final record was 65-9-1 with 37 knockouts.

It is no secret the Alexis always had trouble with mobile boxers. Clever but light hitting Vilomar Fernandez gave him fits. Laguna would give Alexis a lot of angles. Arguello was usually a slow starter and Ismael was a very good counter puncher. Laguna was not a hard hitter but he was a sharp and accurate puncher. It is highly conceivable that Laguna would jump out to an early lead. Laguna’s jab would get in more often but Arguello’s would carry much more sting. Whenever possible Alexis would try to work the body. This would probably be the key for an Arguello victory. As the bout progressed Arguello’s body attack would slow Laguna down. Remember this would be a fifteen round fight. By the later rounds Alexis would begin to land some telling head shots. Laguna would be hurt but he would smartly evade Arguello’s attempts to finish him. Occasionally Ismael would score with light but flashy combinations but mostly he would be forced to box defensively. The decision would be close but Arguello’s power and his late surge would carry him to a unanimous decision. Now I wonder how Alexis would have done against the “other” champ from Panama, Robert Duran.

Article posted on 23.01.2004

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