November 18, 2020 7:34 pm
Juan Roldan is being remembered as a short, stout brawler from Argentina who failed in three attempts to win a world middleweight title but always went down swinging.
“The Hammer,” who died today from COVID-19 complications at 63, was a terror in his native country. He built a record of 47-2-2 (34 KOs) – fighting all but one time in Argentina – before coming to the U.S. as a 160-pound contender.
Roldan (67-5-2, 47 KOs) stopped Frank “The Animal” Fletcher in six rounds in his American debut, in 1983. That earned him a shot at the champion and one of the greatest middleweights of all time in March 1984: Marvin Hagler.
The Argentine famously put Hagler down in the opening round, although the champ appeared to slip after a grazing punch. That’s the only knockdown in Hagler’s career. After that, in spite of a spirited effort from, he couldn’t continue after going down in Round 10.
Hagler was accused by Roldan of thumbing his right eye in the third round, which caused him problems the remainder of the fight. When it was stopped, the eye was swollen shut.
”No thumb, no thumb,” Hagler said. ”That was an uppercut. It was a clean shot right off the bridge of the eye.”
Roldan received a shot at a vacant title against another Hall of Famer in October 1987: Tommy Hearns. The banger came out banging – and stunned Hearns a few times – but he couldn’t get out of the fourth round, the victim a big right hand from the Hitman.
Hearns became the first fighter to win titles in four divisions.
The following year, in November, Roldan received one more opportunity to fight for a title but was stopped in eight rounds by then-unbeaten Michael Nunn.
Roldan, only 31, never fought again.
The retiree bought dairy farm in his mountainous region of Cordoba, becoming a successful rancher, according to RingTV.com’s Argentine correspondent. He reportedly was diagnosed with the coronavirus three days before he died in his hometown of San Francisco.