Legendary welterweight champion Jose Napoles, who ruled the 147-pound division throughout the 1970s, has passed away at the age of 79.
The former world champion passed away after battling a number of illnesses, including Alzheimer's and hypertension, late in his life. He dies with his children and grandchildren standing by his side in Mexico City.
Born in Cuba, Napoles fought there for the first few years as a pro. Napoles left Cuba in the early 1960s and moved to Mexico, where he eventually became a citizen of. It was then he became one of the top boxing stars in the country. After more than 30 fights in Mexico, Napoles got his crack at a world title at the end of the 1960s.
Napoles first won the unified WBA, WBC and lineal welterweight titles in 1969 when he stopped Curtis Cokes in the 13th round. After three title defenses from 1969-1970, Napoles suffered his first title loss to Billy Backus after a cut Napoles in the fourth round caused the fight to be stopped. Napoles would regain the titles by beating Backus with an eighth-round stoppage.
Napoles went on to defend his unified belts a total of 10 times throughout the decade, beating the likes of Ernie Lopez, Roger Menetray and Hedgemon Lopez. During his reign as welterweight champion, Napoles briefly moved up to middleweight to challenge for Carlos Monzon's WBA and WBC titles in 1974. Monzon defeated Napoles in six rounds in their 160-pound title bout in France. Napoles would go on to lose his unified welterweight titles in 1976 with a loss to John H. Stracey and retired from boxing soon after.