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July 05, 2018

Courtesy of the WBF

Former middleweight Joaquin Velasquez was born on August 21, 1962 in Santiago de los Caballeros, the second largest city in the
Dominican Republic. He grew up to be a talented boxer, who fought a long line of some of the biggest names in the sport, but some
would say that had he had a stronger, more influential team behind him he would have achieved much more than he did. Between his debut in September of 1984 and his final fight almost fourteen years later, he traded punches with the likes of Gianfranco Rossi, Milton McCrory, John David Jackson, Charles Brewer, Howard Davis Jr., William Joppy, Steve Little, Terry Norris and Julio Cesar Green. Velasquez proved that he could compete at the word-class level, even in defeat.

In his first six outings, inside six months, Velasquez beat nondescript opposition, five inside the distance, before stepping up in competition with a ten-round unanimous decision over rugged compatriot Jose Vallejo (6-10) in April of 1985 in Santo Domingo.

In 1986 he migrated to Italy, where eleven of his next thirteen fights took place, in addition to one appearance in Monaco and one in Switzerland. Taking on all comers, he quickly made a name for himself as a reliable and capable fighter.

Velasquez lost decisions to future European champion Mauro Martelli (17-0) and Gianfranco Rossi (37-2), who would go on to claim WBC and IBF world titles, but also scored decent victories over Marco Cipollino (10-0-2), Randy Smith (15-8) and Patrick Boon (10-3-1).

In 1988, with a record of 16-4-1, he decided to try his luck in “the land of opportunity”, and made his USA debut on September 10 at The Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan, stopping Marris Virgil (3-2-1) in one round on the undercard of George Foreman vs. Bobby Hitz.

Two months later, at the same venue, Velasquez made something of a break-through when he was matched against former world champion Milton “Ice Man” McCrory (33-3-1), from nearby Detroit and a member of the world-famous Kronk Gym. McCrory, who had won and defended the WBC welterweight title four times before losing it to Donald Curry, was a clear favorite, so it was a genuine upset when the local man was stopped in seven rounds by the
little-known Dominican.

The victory put Velasquez in a good position for even bigger fights and pay-days, but unfortunately it was not to be. His biggest triumph so far in his career was followed by two years of inactivity, so when he did finally return there was little fanfare or attention.
Between November of 1990 and March of 1996 Velasquez only fought eight times. He won a few low-key bouts, but also lost bigger fights against John David Jackson (22-0), Charles Brewer (13-0), Howard Davis Jr. (33-5-1) and William Joppy (18-0).

So, while Velasquez was expected to be competitive, Panama-born Queens-resident Rafael Williams (34-16) was expected to win when they squared off for the vacant WBF middleweight title on May 17, 1996 in New York City. Williams had stopped Charles Brewer, one of the few who had managed to beat Velasquez inside the distance,
and also held victories over Ernesto Espana, Darrin Morris and Joe Gatti, so few anticipated that he would fail in winning the WBF crown.

But nevertheless, it was the underdog who came out on top, as Velasquez scored a unanimous decision at a time in his career where he appeared to be on the verge of becoming an outright journeyman. 

Unfortunately his day in the sun would be short. Velasquez lost a rematch with Williams two months later, and would never win another professional boxing match. But he did continue to fight at world class level for a while longer.

In his final four bouts he lost on points to Steve Little (23-14-2) for the IBC World title, dropped a decision to Godfrey Nyakana (28-2-1), and was stopped by the exceptional Terry Norris (45-6) and
fellow countryman Julio Cesar Green (22-3). His finished his career with a record of 22-15-1 (11).

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