Filipino fighter Erbito Salavarria (40-11-3, 11) is one of the most forgotten world champions and is certainly a fighter who deserves a lot more attention than he gets. His career ran from 1963 to 1978 and during that he fought 54 times with 7 world title bouts and a string of high profile wins. He was also a man was famously stripped of a world title in some very, very peculiar and suspicious circumstances.
Salavarria was a genuine world class Flyweight in one of the division's most exciting periods. In the early 1970's he faced a genuine who's who and the only really big name fighter from the division he missed out from that sort of time was Masao Oba, who sadly passed away in 1973. His legacy took a hit with the way he lost the WBC Flyweight title in 1971, though he would later claim the WBA title in 1975. By then however he wasn't the fighter he had once and he would lose 3 of his final 4 career bouts.
Of course we're not here to talk about anyone's legacy here however and instead we're here to look at the 5 most significant wins for... Erbito Salavarria
Tsuyoshi Nakamura II (October 18th 1969)
In the 1960's Tsuyoshi Nakamura pretty much dominated the OPBF title scene. He won the title in 1963, beating Chartchai Chionoi, and made 10 defenses of the belt including wins against the likes of Ric Magramo, Al Diaz, Erbito Salavarria and Bernabe Villacampo. In 1969, in their second meeting, Salavarria got revenge, stopping the Nakamura in 12 rounds to claim the OPBF title, end Nakamura's long reign and essentially help push Nakamura into retirement. The bout was the only time Nakamura would be stopped during his 74 fight career and would net Salavarria his first international title, instantly putting him in the mix for a world title fight. It also saw him avenge one of his 5 losses at the time.
Whilst not a big win internationally this was a huge win for Salavarria at the time and got him well in the running for a world title fight.
Berkrerk Chartvanchai (July 25th 1970)
Just 9 months after claiming the OPBF title Salavarria faced off with the then WBA Flyweight world champion Berkrerk Chartvanchai, in a non-title bout. The talented Chartvanchai was unbeaten and had won the WBA title 3 months earlier, when he beat Bernabe Villacampo for the WBA title. Salavarria managed to bring the champion over to the Philippines for a bout above the Flyweight limit and took a clear decision over the Thai, in a 10 rounder. The bout really did push Salavarria to a bigger fight and proved he belong not just at Oriental level but world level.
Chartchai Chionoi (December 7th 1970)
Salavarria would get his first world title shot less than 5 months after beating Berkrerk Chartvanchai, as he travelled to Thailand and took on WBC Flyweight champion Chartchai Chionoi. On paper this was another step up for the talented Filipino, but he made it look easy as he destroyed Chionoi in 2 rounds, dropping him multiple times to rip the WBC title from the Thai. Chionoi had held the belt since March, when he had won a rubber match with Efren Torres and his reign ended in his first defense.
Susumu Hanagata I (April 30th 1971)
Unfortunately for Salavarria his reign was a short one, though it ended in highly dubious fashion. Prior to losing the belt however he had defeated Susumu Hanagata in a title defnense, less than 5 months after winning the title. The talented Salavarria left no doubt on the night, taking a very clear win over the Japanese fighter, who would play a major role in Salavarria's career. After 15 rounds here there was no debating the winner with Hanagata suffering his 10th career defeat, in his 49th professional bout.
In November 1971 Salavarria was stripped of the WBC title following a bout with Betulio Gonzalez. The bout seemed like a set up to deprive Salavarria and after the bout referee Mills Lane stated he was never going back to Venezuela. He was stripped for testing positive for amphetamines, a full month after the bout took place. From our research this appears to be the first time a world title had been stripped from a champion on the basis of a drug test
Susumu Hanagata II (April 1st 1975)
Almost 4 yeas after their first clash Salavarria and Hanagata would clash for the second time. This time Hanagata was the reigning WBA Flyweight champion and Salavarria was looking to become a 2-time champion. Unlike their first bout, which took place in the Philippines, this one was in Japan and Hanagata had the crowd behind him. Since their first bout the Japanese had gone 10-3, with a notable win in October 1974 over Chartchai Chionoi to claim the title. It seemed like the Japanese fighter had the advantages, but he couldn't over-come the Filipino who took a split decision over the local favourite.
These two would rematch again later in the year, with Salavarria winning again, but his reign ended in 1976 when he was stopped by Alfonso Lopez. He would then remain out of the ring for over 2 years before losing in an ill fated comeback against Netrnoi Sor Vorasingh in December 1978.
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