GABRIEL "FLASH" ELORDE By: The International Boxing Hall of Fame
Gabriel "Flash" Elorde is one of the greatest fighters to ever come out of the Asia-Pacific region. Every year from 1952 to 1967, he was involved in a national, regional, or world title bout. Elorde, who turned pro in 1951 at the age of 16, had his first eleven (11) fights in his hometown of Cebu, Philippines, winning ten (10) and suffering one (1) knockout loss. He branched out the following year and continued his success, eventually winning the National Bantamweight title in Manila then, traveling to Tokyo, where he won the Oriental Bantamweight crown via 12-round decision from Hiroshi Horiguchi. In 1953, he lost a bid for the National Featherweight crown, dropping a 12-round decision to Larry Bataan in Manila and later dropped a 12-round verdict to Japanese Junior Lightweight Champ Masashi Akiyama in Tokyo.
His quest for success at higher weights finally bore fruit in 1954. After dropping another 12-round nod, this time to Shigeji Kaneko, for the Oriental 126-pound belt, he beat Tommy Romulo in Manila to win the Philippines Junior Lightweight crown. Despite losing the national title in 1955, he surprised everyone when he outpointed reigning Featherweight King Sandy Saddler over ten (10) rounds in a non-title fight in Manila. With his newly won status as a World-Ranked Fighter, Elorde traveled to San Francisco in January 1956 for a rematch against Saddler, this time with the title on the line.
The challenger fought brilliantly, but a cut over his eye forced the bout to be stopped in the 13th round, with Elorde ahead on the judges cards. It was also Saddler's last title defense. Although Elorde didn't get another title shot for the rest of the decade, he remained a ranked contender and eventually won national and regional titles as a lightweight. In March 1960, he won the World Junior Lightweight title with a seventh-round stoppage of Harold Gomes in Quezon City, in the Phillipines.
Over the next eight (8) years he had the most prolific reign at the weight. He had ten (10) successful defenses and twice pushed Carloz Ortiz to the 14th round in a bid to win the Lightweight belt from the future Hall-of-Famer. Elorde's fall began in June of 1966 when he lost the Oriental Lightweight title to Yoshiaki Numata via 12-round verdict. A year later, Numata relieved Elorde of the World 130-pound crown with a 15-round points verdict. Elorde fought and lost his next fight. He was inactive for a year and half before resuming his career, but retired for good after winning just six (6) of ten (10) bouts.