Produced on December 27, 1957, in Santo Toms de los Pltanos, Mexico, Jos “Pipino” Cuevas started his professional boxing career a month before turning 14. He became the WBA welterweight champ at age 18, and successfully defended his title 11 times before losing to Thomas Hearns in 1980. After retiring in the sport in 1989, Cuevas was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2002.
Among 11 children, he learned to fend for himself in a tough area, polishing shoes and working along with his dad, a butcher, for additional change. Cuevas finally found his way into a health club to acquire the skills he’d picked up as a raw but promising street fighter. However, the kid called “Pipino” continued to press forward, developing an aggressive fashion as well as a lethal left hook.
Fighting in America for the very first time, Cuevas lost a decision to Andy Price at the Sports Arena in La, California, on June 2, 1976. But, the loss arrived with a silver lining, as it directed World Boxing Association champ ngel Espada to think that Cuevas would be a straightforward competition. Their fight in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 17, 1976, finished having a second-round knockout for Cuevas, making him the youngest welterweight champ ever.
Cuevas successfully defended his title 11 times, but his reign as champ came to a conclusion against Hall of Famer Thomas “Hitman” Hearns on August 2, 1980. Backed by his hometown crowd at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Hearns kept the competitive Cuevas at bay with his longer reach before smashing his approach into a knockout in the 2nd round. The match apparently marked a turning point Cuevas’s livelihood, as he instantly fell in the rankings of the boxing elite.
After briefly retiring in the late 1980s, Cuevas returned for three battles in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1989. He retired for good after the third finished having a second-round knockout by Luis Aquino, ending using a career record of 35-15, including 31 knockouts. Pipino Cuevas turned his focus to business after leaving the ring, becoming who owns a restaurant along with a security firm in Mexico City.
The previous champ was acknowledged for his effect on the sport along with his induction to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2002. Meanwhile, son Jose Jr., also known as Pipino Jr., carried on the family name and heritage by following his dad’s footsteps into a professional boxing career.