NOBODY who ever saw the Bolivar, Colombian-native fight will ever forget "Kid Pambele." The 5'10" Cervantes, who turned pro in 1964, was a strong, heavy-handed puncher. He was a virtual unknown outside South America, as he compiled a 30-9-1 record before securing a title shot against world junior welterweight champ Nicolino Loche. He caught the boxing world's attention by extending the champion the full 15-round limit in a losing effort on Dec. 11, 1971.
Three wins, and 10 months later, he defeated new champion Alfonso (Peppermint) Frazer, scoring a 10th-round kayo over the Panamanian in Panama City. And, thus would begin one of the most prestigious careers in the history of the 140-pound division.
Over the next eight years, Cervantes went 27-2, engaged in 19 title fights with his only losses coming at the hands of Hall of Famers Wilfred Benitez and Aaron Pryor. In his second defense, he exacted revenge against Loche, stopping the former champ in nine rounds March 17, 1973. He successfully defended the world title 10 times, before losing a 15-round decision to 17-year-old phenom Benitez March 6, 1976.
He regrouped and won his next four bouts, then captured the WBA version of the 140-pound crown with a sixth-round stoppage of Carlos Giminez, June 25, 1977. Cervantes' WBA reign lasted until Aug. 2, 1980 -- 10 title defenses -- when he was knocked out by Pryor in four rounds in the challenger's hometown of Cincinnati.
Cervantes, who fought five more times before retiring in 1983, also scored noteworthy wins over future world champions Esteban DeJesus and Saoul Mamby, and top contender Hector Thompson.
Born: Dec. 23, 1945