Stracey vs. Napoles, Don Jose Sulaiman’s first bout as President of the WBC
On December 5, 1975, Don José Sulaimán Chagnón was elected President of the World Boxing Council, and a day later under his mandate, the first world title fight was held with the green belt being contested between welterweight champion Jose Angel “Mantequilla” Napoles and British John Henry Stracey.
In this way it was a transcendental historical event as well as being a great fight came to fruition.
John H Stracey arrived in Mexico City unheralded, but resolutely ready to face the daunting prospect of a supremely confident champion in front of more than 40,000 adoring fans in one of the largest bullrings in the world.
José “Mantequilla” Napoles, born in Cuba and based in Mexico, was one of the greatest welterweight fighters in history. Napoles came to this defense as a seasoned thirty-five-year-old, armed with the ample experience of 87 fights.
John H Stracey traveled to Mexico City three weeks before his fight with Jose Napoles, to adapt to the altitude, running in the early morning cool of Chapultepec Park. John already knew “Mantequila,”as he had done a sparring session with him in 1972 when Napoles traveled to London to defeat Ralph Charles, in a fight for the world crown.
The fight started badly for Stracey. Napoles sent him to the canvas with a hard left hook in the first round. The Mexicans fans urged and roared on their adopted champion to finish it there and then. John got up and used all his defensive plus survival skills and courage to weather this early storm.
John who was in the prime of his career and the prime of life, gathered momentum, jabbing effectively and following up with pinpoint combinations to swell the face of “Mantequilla” who was visibly tiring. The peak of his glory times was passing and with it the torch.
In round six the fight was over. The Referee stopped it, as Napolis was receiving a welter onslaught, backed on the ropes and unable to launch any answering counterattack.
This fight is doubly historic: It will always be remembered as a magnificent and historic achievement for British boxing and of John H Stracey`s tremendous self-belief. In addition, this fight was the first for the WBC world title under the command of our beloved Lifetime President José Sulaiman. The start of his era as the Father of Modern Boxing.