Eusebio Pedroza, one of the greatest featherweight champions in boxing history, died from pancreatic cancer at home in Panama City, Panama, it was announced on Friday. He was 62.
Pedroza, who boxed professionally from 1973 to 1992 and was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1999, had a remarkable run as world champion.
Pedroza (41-6-1, 25 KOs) held the WBA featherweight world title from 1978 to 1985 and made a 126-pound division record 19 title defenses.
Pedroza, who was 5-foot-9, which is quite tall for a featherweight, turned pro in Panama and boxed there exclusively until 1976. That is when he got a shot at then-bantamweight world champion Alfonso Zamora in Mexico and, in his 16th fight, lost by second-round knockout.
Pedroza also lost his next fight by knockout in Venezuela later in 1976, but he would not lose again until he traveled to London and lost his world title by unanimous 15-round decision to fellow future Hall of Famer Barry McGuigan.
McGuigan paid tribute to his former rival on social media.
A sad day for me as my rival and outstanding World Featherweight Champion Eusebio Pedroza passes away aged 62 RIP. Pedroza is one of the longest reigning Featherweight Champion in history, it was a pleasure to share the ring with him 🙏 https://t.co/qVYXpy4p7e— Barry McGuigan (@ClonesCyclone) March 1, 2019
Pedroza first won a world title by knocking out Cecilio Lastra in the 13th round on April 15, 1978, in Panama City.
From there, Pedroza, who was known for superb stamina and for taking over fights in the late rounds, embarked on a historic title reign with many of his fights shown on American television during the heyday of weekend afternoon fights. Among his 19 successful defenses he defeated Hall of Famer Ruben Olivares by 12th-round knockout, Royal Kobayashi by 13th-round knockout and won 15-round decisions over Jorge Lujan, Rocky Lockridge (twice) and Juan Laporte.
After Pedroza, known as "The Scorpion," lost the title to McGuigan in a fight for which Pedroza earned $1 million -- then a record purse for a featherweight -- he fought five more times, going 3-2 and losing a 10-round split decision to Mauro Gutierrez in Detroit in his final bout on Nov. 21, 1992.
"Eusebio Pedroza authored one of the most impressive title reigns in boxing history and brought tremendous pride to his home country of Panama," International Boxing Hall of Fame executive director Edward Brophy said. "The Hall of Fame offers our condolences to his family and joins the boxing world in mourning his passing."