Forgotten Fades – Zack Padilla vs “Sucra” Ray Oliveira

When I started this article, I was going to review a different fight:  “Sucra” Ray Oliveira vs Vince Phillips.  I remember watching this fight live years ago and I thought it would be a perfect “Forgotten Fade” topic.  However, when it came time for me to watch again, the fight was no longer available.  That was very annoying.  However, another name popped up from trying to search for a copy of that fight.  That name would be Zack Padilla.  Zack Padilla is not a fighter most people know or have forgotten for various reasons.  His boxing career is fascinating.  He turned pro in 1985.  Stopped boxing in 1986 after suffering his lone professional loss by TKO.  Was out of the ring until 1991, where he made a comeback.  He would go on to defeat the late former 2 division champion, Roger “Black Mamba” Mayweather.  He also took the zeroes of future welterweight champion James Page and world champion Carlos “Bolillo” Gonzalez.  The latter would earn him the WBO World Super Lightweight Title. Off the strength of seeing that name in my searches, I decided that this is fight I would review for this “Forgotten Fade”:  Zack Padilla vs “Sucra” Ray Oliveira.

From round 1 to round 12, the fight was an unbelievable exercise in work rate.   It is simply incredible to watch. Oliveira came out early establishing the jab and throwing quick combinations.  Padilla responded in return.  Fast accurate combinations on the outside from both men.  Padilla not giving Oliveira any ground.  In the second round, Oliveira came out and was throwing fast, shoeshine combinations at Padilla.  Padilla cutting the ring off and pushing Oliveira near the ropes to let off combinations of his own.  Oliveira would find his way off the ropes and started to showboat a little with his defense plus fighting off his toes. Towards the end of the round, Padilla would land some hard combinations on Oliveira.  In round 3, I did find it funny that Padilla took what looked to be a breather before going back to fight it out with Oliveira.  Punches in bunches and Padilla was starting to land and often.  The 4th round is where the fight really began to look like as most people would say “Rock’em Sock’em Robots”.  You can tell Oliveira really wanted to give himself some distance to operate, but Padilla was in his chest constantly.  The only thing he could do was oblige and throw.  After all, he was the challenger in this fight.  He knew what he had to do what he could to beat the champion Padilla.

The middle rounds it was more of the same thing.  I found it funny that Oliveira’s cornermen was telling him not to slug it out.  Again, it did not look like he had any choice in that matter.  Padilla would be breathing at the end of each round but then would go back out and resume the heavy volume.  Oliveira it looks like he was punching just to keep Padilla off him.  However, a lot of his punches were not landing or landing clearly.  From there, Padilla would land the harder counters in between those shots.  The 6th and 7th rounds were just incredible to watch.  The judges I am sure were having a harder time trying separate these 2 fighters on the scorecards.  But as we got into the later rounds, Padilla was getting the better of the exchanges.  Oliveira was only effective if he was able to get Padilla in the corner or on the ropes.  But again, he was throwing anything that would make Padilla take a step back or dissuade from his nonstop attack. 

In round 10, it looked like to me a left hook from Padilla briefly hurt Oliveira.  Oliveira then stepped away and try to clear his head a little before going back to trade.  11th round was more of a “boxing” round.  Oliveira started sticking and moving more, working behind his jab.  Surprisingly, Padilla followed suit and dropped his work rate as well.  Even still, Padilla clearly won that round with the more effective shots.  Going into the 12th and final round, both fighters cornermen clearly let them know they needed to finish strong.  Both fighters listened and put it all on the line.  This time, it looked like Oliveira won that very strongly.  The crowd I feel should have been more appreciative at the action.  This fight broke a CompuBox record:  Most punches thrown in a 12-round fight with 3,020.  Judges would award the fight to Zack Padilla by unanimous decision by scores of 118-110, 117-112, and 116-113.  A great great fight. 

The aftermath of both fighters would go in different directions after.  Zack Padilla, the champion, would only last 3 more fights.  He won every one of the fights by TKO.  His final fight, one of his finest achievements, being the first and only man to stop noted iron chin and former world champion Juan Laporte.  His career would end abruptly in a sparring session with a young Shane Mosley. The details about what happened was always lacking until I came across an interview that he did early this year on where he explained what happened:

In early 1994, he defeated Harold Miller, and former champion Juan Laporte. A big money fight with Pernell Whitaker was in the works, but Padilla felt something wasn’t right.

“I didn’t feel that good when I fought Miller,” said Padilla.” My left eye felt weird. It felt worse when I fought Laporte.”

 Padilla says now he should have seen a doctor, but he didn’t. Instead, he kept training and waiting on word of the Whitaker fight. He was sparing Shane Mosley when everything changed.

 “When I sparred Mosley, they were hard,” said Padilla. “Ten hard rounds, every day. They were ring wars. We were going at it. My left eye felt like broken glass. I started getting dizzy. I told Jack (Mosley) I didn’t feel well. He put towels on me. I threw up”

Padilla made an appointment with a doctor. The news was devastating.

 “The doctor told me I had a brain aneurysm and I couldn’t box anymore,” Padilla said. “I went and got a second opinion from a doctor in Beverly Hills. He told me the same thing. I can’t fight. He sent a letter, and I was banned from boxing.

 “I felt like I got fired from my job.”

 Padilla was 31 years old. His boxing career was over.

                For “Sucra” Ray Oliveira, he would only receive one more world title shot, in which he came up short against then IBF 140 champion Jake “The Snake” Rodriguez.  He would go on to fight for 12 more years.  A solid contender and later would be a gatekeeper for other world champions and up and coming prospects.  He would have some incredible wars against the likes of Vince Phillips (scored a majority decision win) and Ben Tackie (a majority decision loss).  After back to back knockout losses to Ricky Hatton and Emmanuel Augustus, “Sucra” Ray would step up away from the ring.  Both men have been quiet in their retirement and hopefully content.  This fight is full recommendation to watch for those who love work rate and non-stop punching.  You will not regret it.

Written by Patscorpio