Sunday, November 12, 2006
He was born to humble beginnings on January 7, 1945 in Jalisco, Mexico. He would become a professional boxer at the age of eighteen. For years he fought fellow novices, losing some, but winning more. He was making a name for himself though. In 1966 he climbed up the ladder with a win over rugged Memin Vega. Two fights later he drew with Geraldo Luna. From the Luna bout Rafael’s career took off. He reeled off sixteen straight wins. Herrera was then matched with future world champion Jesus “Chucho” Castillo. Herrera was overwhelmed by Castillo and lost in round three.
Rafael was no quitter He drew with Canada’s Billy McGrandle.but two fights later he lost to the highly regarded Raul Cruz. As 1970 rolled around Herrera was considered a top notch boxer, but not championship material. That all changed when he decided that he was good enough to make it to the top. This time Herrera won a decision over Octavio Gomez. This led to a shot against undefeated Rodolfo Martinez for NABF bantamweight title. In a very close and exciting fight, Herrera got the verdict and the title.
That was the spring board for Rafael’s career. Next he would halt the highly regarded Cesar Deciga. Two fights later he avenged an earlier loss by outscoring the talented Chucho Castillo. In March of 1972 Rafael challenged the legendary Ruben Olivares for the world’s championship. The proud champion fought his heart out, but Herrera was not to be denied and he won in round eight winning the WBA + WBC titles.