Best I faced: Juan Martin Coggi
[springboard type=”video” id=”983699″ player=”ring003″ width=”648″ height=”511″ ]
Juan Martin Coggi was a career junior welterweight, a three-time WBA champion who reigned on and off for almost a decade, fighting all over the world.
Coggi made his debut in 1982, winning the WBA strap five years in his first fight outside Argentina. With no signature wins he surprised Patrizio Oliva, unbeaten in 48 fights, stopping the Italian in three rounds.
Like the gold standard of Argentine boxing, Carlos Monzon, Coggi became a popular figure in Italy and made his first three title defenses there: He knocked out Korean puncher Sang-Ho Lee in two rounds, then outpointed seasoned veteran Harold Brazier as well as the unbeaten Akinobu Hiranaka.
Coggi, nicknamed “Latigo” (The Whip), credits his fourth title defense, in April 1990, as the best performance of his career.
“Jose Luis Ramirez in Corsica (France),” Coggi told RingTV.com. “because I had to move quickly around the ring, I had to throw a lot of punches, move my feet very fast and I had to work all 12 rounds.”
Five months later Coggi would lose his title by close majority decision to Loreto Garza. Unable to secure an immediate rematch the Argentine southpaw instead stayed active. Two and a half years later and several owners removed, Coggi was able to tempt Morris East into traveling to Argentina, where he once again won the WBA crown, stopping the Filipino in eight relatively one-sided rounds.
Over the next 18 months Coggi was extremely busy making six title defenses, which included Hiroyuki Yoshino (TKO 5) in Japan. In front of his own fans in Argentina he beat Jose Rivera (TKO 7) and Guillermo Cruz (TKO 10) while Jose Rafael Barboza lasted the distance.
In late 1993 Coggi beat Eder Gonzalez under spurious circumstances. In the third round with the fight seemingly going Coggi’s way, he dropped the Colombian challenger. As he pressed for the knockout win he was caught by a huge counter right hand that dropped him heavily to the canvas.
Inexplicably, referee Isidro Rodriguez‘s count appeared to be long. In the follow-up confusion reigned; Coggi’s cornermen were allowed to enter the ring to hold their man up.
Coggi was able to regroup before scoring a seventh-round stoppage.
The Argentine pulled no punches when asked his opinion on what happened:
“It wasn’t me but it wasn’t fair, ” he said. “I fought him three months later in Las Vegas.”
Gonzalez wasn’t the same fighter, however. His moment came and went in the second half of the third round of their first go-around. This time he was stopped in the third frame.
In September 1994, Coggi packed his bags and traveled back to Las Vegas where he would lose a wide unanimous decision to Frankie Randall, who in his past two fights had won the WBC title with a decision over Julio Cesar Chavez (handing the Mexican star his first knockdown) and then lost it by technical decision in a rematch.
Two wins followed, including a points win in Japan over unbeaten Hiroyuki Sakamoto which vaulted him into a rematch with Randall. They met in Miami in early 1996. Coggi was cut from a headbutt and unable to continue in the fifth round, but when the decision went to the cards a knockdown in the third inning was the deciding factor that allowed Coggi to win back his old title for a third term.
The rubbermatch took place later in the year in Argentina where Randall won the trilogy with a comprehensive points decision.
Coggi remained active until he retired in 1999, following a loss to future IBF welterweight champion Michele Piccirillo in Italy. He retired with a record of 75-5-2 with 44 stoppage victories, which included 16 world title bouts.
Like everyone who fought in this era, Coggi wished he’d been able to face Chavez.
“I was close to fighting him but two months before the fight they didn’t finalize the money so we didn’t fight, but I wanted to fight Julio Cesar Chavez,” said Coggi.
Today Coggi, 52, is the lead trainer of junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse and also works with other boxers from Matthysse’s promotional outfit, Arano Promotions. He is married with two children, a boy and girl. His son Martin Antonio is an active junior welterweight in Argentina and is currently 32-6-3, with 16 stoppages.
Coggi took time out from training Matthysse to speak with RingTV.com about the best fighters he faced in his own career:
Most Skillful – Himself – The people can pick but I had a lot of speed and power in the ring.
Best Jab – Frankie Randall – Because of the speed, it was very fast. He was very surprising, I didn’t know when he would throw the jab. Also Patrizio Oliva from Italy had a very good jab.
Best Defense – Randall – It was very tough to land a shot against him.
Best Chin – Jose Luis Ramirez, Harold Brazier and Akinobu Hiranaka – All three guys had very good chins.
Best Puncher – Randall – Was the best puncher I fought but when you are at the top level of boxing all the boxers are very hard. Sang-Ho Lee and Harold Brazier were also good punchers but Frankie Randall was the best. (Coggi smiled and pointed to the floor and held two fingers up, signalling the two times he was dropped by Randall.)
Fastest Hands – Brazier – I think it was Harold Brazier but also Frankie Randall was very fast.
Fastest Feet – Brazier – He was very fast and moved the feet very well.
Smartest – Brazier – He finished the fight, he fought all twelve rounds, he hit very hard and had a very good defense.
Strongest – All of them – When you are a world champion all the boxers are very hard.
Best Overall – Lots of them like Jose Luis Ramirez, Harold Brazier, Sang-Ho Lee, (Akinobu) Hiranaka and Frankie Randall. All the boxers I fought were very tough because they were champions.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright