Best I Faced: Alfonso “Peppermint” Frazer
Alfonso “Peppermint” Frazer gained acclaim for beating a future hall of famer to capture the Ring and WBA junior welterweight championships, only to lose his titles to another future hall of famer in his first defense.
Frazer was born in Panama City, Panama, on January 4, 1948.
“My childhood was humble, but it was happy,” Frazer told The Ring through Rogelio Espino. “It was my grandmother who mainly took care of my upbringing. She always worried about me and made me attend school until the sixth grade.
“I grew up with my dad’s family. I had two brothers from my father’s side. In addition, five brothers on my mother’s side, with whom I had no relationship. My father was part of the Panamanian basketball team.”
It was as a child that Frazer earned the nickname that would stick with him throughout his life.
“When I was little, I was always playing at one of my friends’ houses,” he recalled. “I really liked peppermint, and when my grandmother went to look for me, she used to tell my friends, ‘Tell Alfonso that I bought him peppermint.’ So, I returned home as if I didn’t know, and my grandmother laughed, telling me, ‘Wow, you like peppermint.’ Because my grandma always told my friends that she was going to give me peppermint, they started calling me that.”
“The goal of every boxer is to face the best, and it was an honor to face boxers of the highest level.”
It wasn’t until he was older that he discovered boxing, and even then it was by chance.
“My favorite sports were basketball and baseball,” he said. “One night, I went with some friends to an amateur boxing event. In a fight, a substitute was required. I got in, as a joke. They accepted me, I fought and I won.”
Frazer progressed as an amateur before later representing his country on the biggest stage of amateur boxing at just 16 years old.
“My greatest pride was having represented Panama in the 1964 Olympic Games in Japan,” he said, despite having been stopped by the more experienced Waruinge Nakayama.
via Last Round Full Screen Boxing on YouTube:
In his pro debut in April 1965, Frazer stopped Baby Luis Carlos in one round in Panama City. He went on to win his first nine fight, eight inside the distance, before tasting defeat for the first time. Over the next couple of years, Frazer lost a few more times, notably to future WBC lightweight titlist Chango Carmona (KO 3). However, despite the setbacks, he was always able to recover and move forward with his career.
With his record standing at 26-4-1 (20 knockouts), Frazer was offered the opportunity to step up to junior welterweight and face the wonderfully talented Argentine fighter Nicolino Locche (106-2-14, 14 KOs) for the Ring and WBA titles in March 1972.
“It was without a doubt my most important fight,” said Frazer, who upset the pre-fight favorite with the help of legendary trainer Ray Arcel by 15-round unanimous decision. “I got that opportunity after a lot of work, and for this fight I had great preparation. Nicolino Locche was a great champion with a lot of experience, which he brought out in that fight, which took place in Panama City. He was a very difficult opponent.
“After this triumph, I was the object of several parties and recognition, but fame never went to my head. I never fell into excess.”
via ClassicfightsfromR on YouTube:
Frazer became the third Panamanian to win a world title, following in the footsteps of the celebrated Panama Al Brown and Ismael Laguna. He was joined by three more countrymen in quick succession in what was a time of great joy for his country.
“Alfonso Frazer was one of four [Panamanian] world champions in 1972,” said well-regarded Panamanian journalist Hector Villareal. “He was joined by Roberto Duran, Enrique Pinder and the late Ernesto Marcel.
“It was considered, at the time, the best moment for Panama in sports, because we had a population of one million.”
Frazer stayed busy with three non-title bouts before he met the excellent Colombian Antonio Cervantes in Panama City in October 1972.
“‘Pambelé’ is one of the best Latino boxers of all time, and that night he was superior,” said Frazer, who netted a career-high $50,000 but lost his titles when he was knocked out in 10 rounds.
The two met again several months later and Cervantes was even more dominant.
“Later, he gave me a rematch and he won again,” said Frazer, who was dropped in the third, fourth and three times in the fifth. “I have no complaints. He proved to be the best.”
Frazer fought on for several years but never returned to world championship level. He went 12-11-2, notably losing to future lightweight titlist Esteban De Jesus (KO 10), two-time world title challenger Hector Thompson (TKO 7) and future two-time junior welterweight titleholder Aaron Pryor (TKO 5).
“The goal of every boxer is to face the best, and it was an honor to face boxers of the highest level,” he said of his career. “I had the opportunity to fight great boxers who were among the best of our time.”
After retiring from boxing, Frazer (43-17-3, 30 KOs) worked as a customs inspector for many years.
Frazer, now 75, lives in Panama City and has been married twice but is a widower. He has six children and 12 grandchildren. He is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s but is still able to remember his career.
He graciously took time to speak to The Ring about the best he fought in 10 key categories.
Aaron Pryor: “He had a very effective jab, hard to avoid.”
Antonio Cervantes: ‘”Kid Pambelé’ had a tight defense. It was very difficult for me to try to overcome it.”
Pryor: “Aaron Pryor was very fast and skilled.”
Pryor: “Aaron Pryor was always on the move. Very skillful.”
Cervantes: “There were other boxers who had more speed, but no one knew how to use his talent like Pambelé.”
Cervantes: ‘”Kid Pambelé’ was the strongest boxer I’ve ever faced.”
Cervantes: “I fought ‘Kid Pambelé’ twice and he beat me by KO both times.”
Cervantes: “I fought ‘Kid Pambelé’ when I was in my prime, but he could take everything I threw at him.”
BEST BOXING SKILLS
Pryor: “Aaron Pryor had very fast hands and feet. Great boxer.”
Cervantes: “I fought many great boxers, but the best I faced were Antonio ‘Kid Pambelé’ Cervantes and Aaron Pryor. ‘Kid Pambelé’ was a heavy-hitter and very intelligent in the ring. One of the best boxers in his [weight] category, I believe.”
READ ”Best I Faced: Antonio Cervantes” on RingTV
Rogelio Espino helped translate and make this feature possible. The Ring appreciates his assistance.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].