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Jose Ribalta

Jose Ribalta

Defeated Leon Spinks

Defeated Leon Spinks

José Manuel Ribalta (born March 31, 1963 Rodrigo, Cuba) is a former professional boxer who competed in the heavyweight division from 1982 to 1999. He is best known for his fight against Mike Tyson in 1986.[9]

Early Life

Jose Ribalta

Jose Ribalta

Ribalta's family fled Cuba in the 1970s and settled in Miami, the city with the largest Cuban diaspora outside of Cuba.

Both of his older brothers were boxers.

He graduated from Jackson High School.

Ribalta was a starting defensive lineman with the Generals football team in the early 1980s.

Amateur Boxing Career

Sparred Tommy Morrison

Sparred Tommy Morrison

Ribalta credits his first trainers, Eddie Ludlow and Bobby Allen, for teaching him to appreciate boxing and Dave Clark, the trainer who led him to a successful amateur career,for developing his skills.

Under Clark’s guidance, Ribalta won two state Golden Gloves championships and was a national Golden Gloves runner-up. Ribalta compiled a 65-8 amateur record before turning professional in 1982.

Professional Boxing Career

Fought Tyson on HBO

Lives in Florida

Lives in Florida

He turned professional in 1982 with a win over JC Richardson.

His first nationally televised bout took place in 1985 against James "Bonecrusher"Smith.

Ribalta lost by a split decision.

The audience was loudly outraged by the decision of the judges.

In September 1985, Ribalta faced Marvis Frazier.

After a close battle,Frazier won the fight by a majority decision.

In May 1986, he was knocked down by David Jaco,but managed to turn the tide of the fight and won by knockout in the fifth round.

On August 17, 1986, Ribalta faced Mike Tyson in a fight broadcast on HBO prepaid.

At the time of the fight, Ribalta was ranked #10 in the WBC ranking.

In the fight, Ribalta was knocked down three times and eventually lost by tko in the 10th round, when the fight was stopped after Tyson's next series of strikes landed on Ribalta,who was pressed against the ropes.

In 2014, Tyson claimed Ribalta was the toughest opponent he has faced.

Defeated Leon Spinks

In April 1992, he was knocked out by Frank Bruno in the 2nd round.

In October 1992, Ribalta faced Michael Dokes and lost by unanimous decision.

Among Ribalta’s professional accomplishments was his first-round tko win over former world heavyweight champion Leon Spinks at the Coconut Grove Exhibition Center in 1987. Ribalta also holds wins over Mark Young and Steve Zouski.

Ribalta also was on the short end of disputed decisions against ex-champion Tim Witherspoon.

Ribalta is linked to 21st century heavyweights when he challenged Vitali Klitschko in 1998. Klitschko stopped Ribalta in two rounds.[4][5]

Retired in 2001

Ribalta stated, "The heavyweight division was very tough when I fought.

The competition was deep.

Many of the guys that weren’t champions then would be champions today.”

Ribalta boxed in the orthodox stance and was listed at 6 feet five inches

In September 1993, he lost against Larry Holmes by unanimous decision.

In December 1993, Ribalta lost a unanimous decision in a 3-round bout against Tony Tubbs in a national heavyweight tournament in the Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi.

In 1993, he defeated Derek Williams and West Turner.

In 1994, Ribalta lost against Joe Hipp by knockout in the 2nd round.

Then he won five fights, which were followed by losses against Axel Schulz, Larry Donald, Vitali Klitschko and Chris Byrd.

In 1999, Ribalta lost by knockout in the 1st round against Donovan Ruddock, after which he retired from professional boxing. His pro record was 38 wins, 17 losses and one draw. He scored 27 knockouts.[8]

Hall of Fame

Inducted in 2014

Inducted in 2014

He was inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall Of Fame in 2014.


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