He was adored all over Argentina during his run of 14 title defenses of the world middleweight championship. He was accused many times of domestic violence by his two wives and many mistresses, and of beating paparazzi. He toured all of Latin America and Europe with the prettiest Argentinan and Italian models and actresses. He was accused of killing his wife in 1989, and then sentenced to 11 years in jail. He died in a car crash during a weekend furlough. He would have been let free in 2001.
Monzon's life began in the small but progressive city of Santa Fe, Argentina. As a youngster, he showed interest in boxing.
The start to his professional career didn't indicate anything special, as he lost 3 and drew 3 of his first 20 bouts. However, he kept progressing against local foes, and built quite an impressive record. Since most of the opposition in his record was local, he wasn't given much credit by anyone, other than for being a good middleweight who could fight 10 round bouts.
World Middleweight champion Nino Benvenuti had long had a distinguished career that included championships in 2 divisions and 2 wins in 3 bouts vs all-time great Emile Griffith. He had lost the year before to American Tom Bethea in Australia, but in a title rematch in Yugoslavia, he avenged that loss.
Nobody expected Monzon to beat Benvenuti in their title match. Yet Monzon applied pressure from the start, and in the 12th, a right hand landed perfectly on Benvenuti's chin, and the title changed hands.
The Argentinan people loved their champion. Monzon beat Benevenuti in a rematch, this time in only three rounds in Monte Carlo. A string of defenses followed, including two wins over three-time former world champion Griffith, a win over tough Philadelphian Bennie Briscoe, a knockout in five rounds over European champion Tom Bogs, a knockout in seven rounds over world Welterweight champion Jose Mantequilla Napoles and a 10 round knockout of tough New Yorker Tony Licata at the Madison Square Garden, in what would turn out to be Monzon's only fight in the United States.
However, a darker side of Monzon would soon begin to emerge. In 1973, Monzon was shot in the leg by his wife, requiring 7 hours of surgery to remove the bullet from the champion's body. By 1975, he began a very publicized romance with the great singer and dancer, Susana Gimenez. Monzon hated papparazzi who detailed his affairs. He went to Italy with Gimenez to participate in a movie, and started increasingly travelling with her to exotic locations like Brazil and the rest of Latin America, letting himself be seen with her.
He was still married, however, and soon the beatings he gave his wife became public knowledge, and many times he landed at the police station for beating her. Ms. Gimenez also began wearing sunglasses more often, and many times, papparazzi had to be hospitalized from the beatings suffered at the hands of Monzon. Monzon was known during this period for his unpredictable violent outbreaks. During this period, Monzon divorced his wife, and later re-married another Argentinian girl.
Monzon's Middleweight championship title was lifted in 1975 by the WBC for not defending it against mandatory challenger Rodrigo Valdez. Valdez, a Colombian, then won the WBC's title, while Monzon kept the WBA's championship. So in 1976, they finally met, this time, world champion vs. world champion.
Valdez's brother had been shot to death one week prior to the fight and he didn't feel like fighting. Still, they were under contract and so the fight took place in Monte Carlo and Monzon handled an uninterested Valdez a beating, winning a 15 round unanimous decision and unifying the world title once again. Because of the special circumstances under which Valdez performed, an immediate rematch was ordered, once again in Monte Carlo.
This time,Valdez came out roaring. A right uppercut to the chin put Monzon down in the first round, and Valdez built a lead through the first half of the fight. Monzon, however, mounted a brilliant comeback and outboxed Valdez for the last 8 rounds, winning a split decision to retain the title and score his 14th title defense.
Gimenez, perhaps tired of his promises and humiliations, left him in 1980. She is now starring in a very popular TV show in Argentina.
After the break up with Gimenez, Monzon's private life was finally closed to the public, but the beatings continued, this time with his second wife, Alicia. And on one sad afternoon of 1989, he allegedly beat Alicia with his fist so many times, that Alicia, scared and bloody, ran to the balconese of their second floor apartment. He followed her there, and, according to Argentinan police, grabbed her by the neck, and then picked her up and pushed her off the balconese and into her death.
Upon hearing his sentence, Monzon didn't show any remorse for what had happened.
In 1995, he was given a weekend furlough to visit his family and kids, and upon returning to jail after the weekend, he crashed near the jail building, dying instantly. There have been rumors that he committed suicide by crashing the car, but there has been no evidence found that supports that claim.
His record stands at 89 wins, only three losses, nine draws, and one no contest. Sixty-one of his wins came by knockout. His only losses were by points and early in his career. Whatever Monzon's personal failings, even crimes, may have been, his boxing career was inarguably a towering achievement.