Meet the Argentine boxer who's compiled a 46-0 record with two KOs

Kevin Iole
Boxing
Meet the Argentine boxer who's compiled a 46-0 record with two KOs
Meet the Argentine boxer who's compiled a 46-0 record with two KOs

After 13 years as a professional boxer, Cesar Cuenca says he has only one concern as he prepares to fight I.K. Yang on Saturday in Macau for the IBF junior welterweight title in what is the first title fight of his career: He's worried about home cooking from the judges.

It's a very apt concern, and not just because Yang is from Hong Kong, only a brief ferry ride from Macau.

Cuenca, who has never fought outside of his native Argentina, is a dramatically different style of fighter than his more well-known countrymen, Lucas Matthysse, Marcos Maidana and the recently retired Sergio Martinez.

Matthysse and Maidana are among the hardest punchers in boxing. Martinez wasn't known as a puncher, but he's best remembered for his vicious, one-punch knockout of Paul Williams in a middleweight title fight.

Cuenca, though, is different.

Vastly different.

He's 46-0, but only has two knockouts. 

In his 19th pro fight, on June 4, 2005, Cuenca stopped Andres Villafane in the fourth round of a scheduled four-rounder. It was nearly eight full years later, on March 9, 2013, that he scored knockout No. 2, when Diego Ponce couldn't beat the 10 count on March 9, 2013.

It seems almost impossible to believe a fighter could step into the ring 47 times (Cuenca had a no-decision in 2003) and come up with just two knockouts. 

"I fight the best way I know how," Cuenca, 34, said. "I do what I have to do to win."

Though he hasn't had the feeling of a KO very often, he's gotten the lingo down pat. Asked what he remembers about his knockout of Ponce, Cuenca resorted to a cliche that many hard hitters have used frequently over the years.

"Knockouts don't come when you're looking for them," he said. "You just have to let them happen."

 Cuenca is only one weight class below Floyd Mayweather, who hasn't named an opponent for his Sept. 12 bout in Las Vegas. If Cuenca defeats Yang on Saturday, he'll be 47-0. Mayweather is 48-0.

Would he, he was asked, be willing to turn around and fight Mayweather at welterweight, pitting a 47-0 challenger against a 48-0 champion?

"I would love that fight," he said. "He's a great fighter. I'm not sure if he does [know who I am], but I'm up for a challenge against anyone. I have to focus on this fight, but if he says my name, I'll do it."

It would be the ultimate challenge, not only because he'd be moving up in weight but because his lack of punching power would all but requirehim to outbox Mayweather.

He's long ago grown accustomed to fighting without the kind of power he'd love to have. But like a PGA Tour player with a funky golf swing, he's made it work for him.

"You have to take advantage of what you have and what you can do, and that's what I ask of myself," Cuenca said. "I don't think about [a lack of power] at all. I just think about doing what I can to find a way to win."

 

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