The Brothers Canizales Put Laredo, Texas on the Map!
By: Ken Hissner
Gaby Canizales, 48-8-1 (36), held the WBA and WBO Bantamweight titles while his younger brother Orlando held the IBF Bantamweight, THE IBA Featherweight and the IBC Super bantamweight titles.
Gaby was born in 1960 and turning professional in 1979 while Orlando was born in 1965 and turning professional in 1984. Both became world champion putting their town of Laredo, Texas, on the map!
Gaby turned professional in Mexico winning his first 3 fights by first round knockouts. In July of 1980 he made his US debut in Laredo scoring a second round knockout. He scored knockouts in his first 9 fights before losing to Mario Nava, 9-3-1, in May of 1981 in their first of two fights. In the re-match in December Gaby defeated Nava, then 13-3-1.
“Gaby was managed by Dr. Luis Mendoza a Laredo physician throughout his early career helped Gaby. He was trained by a Mr. Infante as well as Tony Ayala, Sr. before Jesse (Reid) and then and later worked with Emmanuel Steward (Kronk) at the end of his career winning the Happy Lara bout in spectacular fashion. I worked with him until after the Chandler bout until he went with Kronk,” said Spagnola.
Gaby made his eastern debut in Atlantic City in June of 1982 winning the USBA bantamweight title stopping Diego Rosario, 14-1-1, in 5 rounds. He would go onto win his first 15 fights scoring 10 knockouts earning him a WBA bantamweight title fight against champion “Joltin” Jeff Chandler, 29-0-2, of Philadelphia, in Atlantic City, losing a decision over 15 rounds.
Gaby would bounce back winning 9 straight and 7 by knockout defending his USBA title twice. He stopped Ron Cisneros, 17-3 the fight after losing to Chandler, then stopped James Pipps, 23-0, and in what would be his fourth defense he decision Kelvin Seabrooks, 13-7. Seabrooks would go onto defeat unbeaten 1976 Olympian Louis Curtis and in his next fight win the IBF bantamweight title stopping Miguel Maturana in Colombia, South American, in May of 1987.
On the card where Gaby defeated Seabrooks his brother Orlando made his debut scoring a knockout in 2 rounds. Gaby would get his second chance at the WBA bantamweight title this time against Richie Sandoval, 29-0, who dealt the first and only defeat to Chandler for the title. This one took place on Sandoval’s turf in Las Vegas, NV. Gaby scored knockdowns in the first, third and 3 times in the seventh to take Sandoval’s title in March of 1986 some 3 years since suffering his first loss up until then to Chandler.
In Gaby’s first title defense 3 months later in June at the Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, NJ, he would lose over 15 rounds to Bernardo Pinango, 17-2-2, of Venezuela. He would return to the ring the end of the year and win 4 straight before returning to Mexico losing to Raul Perez, 34-1, being stopped in 9 rounds. It would be the only time Gaby would be stopped in his career of 57 fights. Perez would go onto win the WBC bantamweight title the following year.
Two fights later Gaby would defeat 1976 Olympian Louis Curtis to re-win the USBA title in Atlantic City in November of 1987. In his next fight he would lose that title to Kenny Mitchell, 15-7-3 by a 12 round split decision in Houston, TX. He would come back to win 5 straight of which 4 were in Arizona and the last one in Michigan.
In July of 1989 Gaby would return to Atlantic City and lose to Greg “The Flea” Richardson, 24-4, who would defeat Raul Perez in 1991 for the WBC bantamweight title. It would be Gaby who got a shot at Perez prior to Richardson losing over 12 rounds in their re-match at the Great Western Forum, Inglewood, CA, in January of 1990.
For Gaby he followed with a draw and 3 knockouts to get a shot at the vacant WBO bantamweight title against Miguel “Happy” Lora, 33-1, of Colombia whose only loss was to Raul Perez. The fight took place at the Palace, Auburn Hills, MI, with Gaby gaining a world title for the second time, scoring a second round knockout in March of 1991. Just 3 months later he would fight his final fight in losing to Duke McKenzie, 28-2, in London, UK, over 12 rounds. McKenzie would lose that title in 1992 but go onto win the WBO Super bantamweight title that same year.
By this time Gaby’s brother Orlando, 50-5-1 (37) had made 6 title defenses of his IBF bantamweight title. He had a record 16 as a bantamweight and was never stopped. He was inducted into the IBHOF in 2009. Orlando was having some career since making his debut going 11-0-1 before losing to future world champion and 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Paul Gonzales, 4-0, for his NABF title losing over 12 rounds though having him on the canvas in round 3. It was the first of two bouts they would have but would wait 4 years for that one.
“I recruited Orlando after seeing him in the Texas State Golden Gloves final destroying National contender Brian Lonon from the powerful U.S. Army team in the finals. Orlando’s older brother Rick, a school teacher in Houston area at the time and brought me to meet the family and help him convince I would take care of their youngest son. I agreed to arrange a part time job for their Orlando in case his boxing dream didn’t work out and rather to live with the other fighters in the apartment I had for them so he could live with Rick in his home.The Canizalesfamily are an amazing crew, five boys raised humbly and with incredible support by their parents. All five achieved a minimum of a four year college degree. I could not think of a single championship quality fighter I have ever known with this type of resume, let alone a family legacy. So proud of the fact both brothers I got to work with are great successes in their post-fight careers.Husbands, fathers and careers giving back to their communities,” said Spagnola.
Orlando would go on a 23 fight win streak following the loss taking the NABF flyweight title in November of 1987, and winning the USBA super flyweight title in his next fight stopping Olympian Louis Curtis, 14-2-1, in 2 rounds in Atlantic City. This earned him a IBF world bantamweight title bout with Kelvin Seabrooks, 25-13, who also lost to brother Gaby on the card when Orlando debuted. Orlando was well ahead stopping Seabrooks in the fifteenth and final round.
Four months later Orlando would defend his title at the Freeman Coliseum, in San Antonio, TX, scoring a first round knockout over Miami’s Jimmy Navarro, 20-1, who he had down twice. In June of 1989 he would give Seabrooks a re-match almost 11 months since their first fight stopping Seabrooks, this time in 11 rounds again in Atlantic City.
In January of 1990 Orlando would travel to the UK and defeat the British champion Billy Hardy, 22-4-1, in a 12 round split decision. In June Orlando would finally get a re-match with the only man to have defeated him by this time, Paul Gonzales, 14-1, in El Paso, TX. It would be his fourth defense and he made it a short fight stopping his opponent in the second round on cuts.
Just 2 months later Orlando would knockout the USBA champion Eddie Rangel, 23-4-2, in 5 rounds in Saratoga Springs, New York, in his fifth title defense. After a non-title win he would give Hardy a re-match in Orlando’s home town of Laredo at the Civic Center Arena in May of 1991. Their previous fight was in the UK by split decision. He had Hardy down in the third round and stopped him in the eighth. It was his first return to Laredo since making his debut almost 7 years previously. Before the year was out he made defenses over the NABF champion Fernie Morales, 28-4, of Mexico, in Indio, CA, easily winning over 12 rounds. Unbeaten WBA world super flyweight champion from Japan Katsuya “Spanky-K” Onizuka was in camp with Orlando preparing for a defense of his own. Then at the end of 1991 he stopped British Commonwealth champion Ray Minus, 39-6-1, of the Bahamas, back in Laredo in 11 rounds. It was the third world title try for Minus.
In April of 1992 Orlando made his ninth title defense defeating Colombian Francisco Alvarez, 32-5-4, in Paris, France, over 12 rounds. In his tenth defense he defeated Filipino Samuel Duran, 36-7-1, stopping his 15 fight winning streak. In his eleventh defense he had a close fight with Clarence “Bones” Adams, 26-0-1, before stopping him in the eleventh round in France. All three judges had it 96-94 through 10 rounds. Adams would eventually become the WBA super bantamweight champ.
In Orlando’s twelfth defense in Houston a No Contest in the third round against South Africa’s Derrick Whiteboy, 33-3-1, who was on a 20 fight win streak. It was a clash of heads that caused a badly cut left eye of Orlando’s. The NC was later changed to a TD3. There would never be a re-match. Two fights later Whiteboy lost his South African title.
It would be 5 months before Orlando’s next defense, his thirteenth defense, easily defeating Colombian Juvenal “El Zulu” Berrio, 24-3, in South Africa over 12 rounds. In making his fourteenth defense he stopped Mexican Gerardo Martinez, 29-1, of San Jose, at the San Jose State Events Center in 4 rounds. In his previous fight Martinez defeated Eddie Croft, 18-0, for the WBC Continental Americas super bantamweight title.
In Orlando’s fifteenth defense he stopped Filipino Rolando Bohol, 34-13-3, in the fifth round at the Convention Center in South Padre Island, TX.In his sixteenth defense he defeated 1992 Olympian Sergio Reyes, 10-0, of Ft. Worth, TX, at Martin Field, Laredo, TX. Reyes was knocked down in the third round.
In January of 1995 Orlando attempted to move up to challenge for the WBA World super bantamweight title that Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo Vazquez, 41-6-2, was champion. It would be his ninth defense and he was on a 13 fight win streak. The fight was held at the Freeman Coliseum, in San Antonio with Orlando losing by split decision. The two judges that voted against him had it 116-115 and 115-113 while the judge who favored him had it 117-113. He actually had more points than Vazquez when you added them up. It dropped his record to 38-2-1.
In June Orlando couldn’t make the 118 bantamweight anymore so he came in at 135 scoring a second round knockout over Kino Rodriguez, 8-5-2 who came in at 126. In July defeated Johnny Lewus, 16-1, out of Chicago, IL, for the international Boxing Council Super bantamweight title over 12 rounds, in Stateline, NV. Two months later he defended against Danny Aponte, 14-0, of Terrytown, LA, stopping him in 7 rounds, at Biloxi, MS, putting him into retirement.
Two months later Orlando defended against Mexico’s Julio Cesar Portillo, 14-4-1, stopping him in the second round. He would then travel to MSG in New York taking on New York’s Junior Jones, 39-2, the former WBA world bantamweight champion in his third IBC defense and lose by split decision over 12 rounds.Jones would go onto win the WBO super bantamweight title at the end of the year stopping Marco Antonio Barrera’s unbeaten streak at 43-0.
In Orlando’s next fight he won the International Boxing Association featherweight title in a rematch with Sergio Reyes, 11-2, stopping him in 10 rounds, in Chiba, Japan. He would score a pair of stoppages in non-title bouts and in July of 1997 win a majority decision over Dominican Edwin “Lightning” Santana, 22-1-3, in Las Vegas.
Over the next 15 months Orlando would win three non-title bouts as a lightweight. He would move down to super featherweight in December of 1998 and lose at the legendary Blue Horizon, in Philadelphia, to Puerto Rico’s Richard DeJesus, 13-5, out of Wilmington, DE, by majority decision. It was the seventh win in eight fights at the Blue Horizon for DeJesus. The decision was controversial so they would have a rematch. It would be 6 months before they would have a rematch at the Blue with Orlando winning by stopping DeJesus in 6 rounds.
Orlando would end his career in his next fight in September of 1999 in a super featherweight fight losing to Frankie Toledo, 35-3-1, of Paterson, NJ, by split decision. Toledo would go onto win the IBF world featherweight title.
Orlando would end up with a 50-5-2 record with 37 knockouts and was never stopped in those 57 fights. He
won the IBF bantamweight title defending it 16 times. He also won the IBC super bantamweight and the IBA featherweight titles. He was 34 while his brother Gaby retired at age 31 having won both the WBA and WBO bantamweight world titles. All together their combined records were 98-13-3 with 73 knockouts.
“Gaby was a wonderful fighter and very talented. Orlando was the best fighter I worked with,” said Spagnola. Reid added, “Orlando and Gaby were both tremendous fighters. Orlando was the super real deal.”