By Jim Amato

Sometimes it isn’t just talent that makes someone successful inside the ropes. A generous dash of luck usually helps. Also being in the right place at the right time doesn’t hurt. Unfortunately for Gregorio Peralta of Argentina on this occasion two out of three isn’t good. He had talent and lots of it but he lacked luck and the ability to be in the right place. Peralta was a throw back to the cagey old veteran boxers of decades before. He campaigned successfully in two weight divisions throughout the sixties and early seventies. As a light heavyweight he carried a pretty solid wallop to go along with his uncanny ring generalship. He defeated champion Willie Pastrano in a non title bout to qualify for a 1964 title shot. Pastrano fought maybe the best fight of his career but Peralta stayed right with him until a cut forced a stoppage in Willie’s favor. Gregorio would never receive another attempt at a championship.

Gregorio at this time held the Argentine heavyweight title. He decided to campaign strictly as a heavyweight. He outpointed Roberto Davila retaining the South American heavyweight championship only three months after losing to Pastrano. Then Peralta lost a twelve round decision to fellow countryman Oscar Bonevena in September of 1965 prompting a twenty month layoff. Returning in 1967 Gregorio won 26 of 29 fights with only draws against Chuck Leslie, Vittorio Saraudi and Bonevena marring the streak. In 1969 plans were being made for Peralta to challenge World Boxing Association heavyweight champion Jimmy Ellis in Buenos Aries. Ellis was on a collision course with Joe Frazier and he wanted to make a defense of his title before his showdown with “Smokin’ Joe”. For whatever reasons the proposed Ellis-Peralta bout fell through. Ellis went on to fight Frazier and lose. On the undercard of Frazier-Ellis Peralta met 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist George Foreman. This was probably Gregorio’s shining moment. Taking everything a still green but powerful Foreman could offer, Peralta stayed in the bout with an exhibition of guile and guts. Peralta lost a tough decision to George but he won over the Madison Square Garden crowd with his performance.

In 1971, Foreman finally caught up to Gregorio in the tenth round of their rematch to score a knockout. Peralta then went on a successful tour of Europe in which he scored an important kayo victory over Jose Urtain. On August 1, 1972, in Barcelona, Spain Gregorio met Muhammad Ali in an eight round exhibition bout giving a good account of himself. In 1973 Peralta twice fought the dangerous Ron Lyle losing a decision in Denver and then holding Lyle to a draw in Frankfurt, Germany. Eventually Gregorio faded into retirement.

I wonder how Peralta would have made out if he would have met Ellis in front of thousands of cheering countrymen? Whenever anyone mentions great heavyweights from Argentina you’re sure to hear Luis Firpo and Bonevena. Please don’t forget a fine fighting machine named Gregorio Peralta.

Jim Amato

Filed under: Boxing


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