Michael Carbajal (born September 17, 1967) is a Phoenix native who was a four-time world boxing champion. He is nicknamed Little Hands Of Stone, after his favorite boxer, the legendary Hands Of Stone, Panamanian Roberto Duran.
Owner of a stellar amateur record, Carbajal went to the 1988 Seoul Olympics in South Korea. He cruised through his initial bouts there, and then, in the Jr. Flyweight final, he dominated his foe, only to be denied a Gold medal by the judges at the end. This decision, along with Roy Jones Jr's decision defeat, also at the final bout in the same games, was considered one of amateur boxing's most unpopular and controversial decisions ever made.
Seven months after the Olympics, in February of 1989, Carbajal made his debut in front of a national television audience as part of the card where Duran became a four-time world champion by beating Iran Barkley in Atlantic City. In his first fight, Carbajal outboxed another future world champion, Will Grigsby.
Carbajal followed that win with a spectacular 1 round knockout of Silviano Perez on NBC. Carbajal started raking up win after win, and in his 10th bout, he met the former WBO world champion Pedro Feliciano, Kikiriki, handling him a 10 round beating. Four more wins followed, and America began to realize that it had it's first Jr. Flyweight superstar ever.
On July 29 of 1990, only 1 year, 5 months and 5 days after his debut, Carbajal faced the tough Maungshai Kittikasem, who came to Phoenix from South Korea to defend his IBF world Jr. Flyweight championship versus the little strom from South Phoenix. Carbajal methodically took apart the champion in front of another NBC national audience and in round 7, after a scary combination of punches left Kittikasem laying defenseless against the ropes, the referee stepped in and stopped the fight, making Carbajal the world champion for the first time in his career.
Fame and endorsement deals from Phoenix companies and other companies that targeted the Phoenix market came along with the title for the young new champion. But with it came trouble. Carbajal began a string of six title defenses against the likes of tough challengers like Leon Salazar, Hector Patri and Robinson Cuesta. The public started longing for a fight with WBC world champion Humberto Gonzalez, AKA Chiquita. So the fight was signed for March 13, 1993. Carbajal was going to become the first Jr. Flyweight in history to earn 1 million dollars for a fight, and the fight had such hype that it almost resembled a heavyweight championship bout. It was the first Jr. Flyweight championship bout to headline a Pay Per View event, and many Hollywood stars attended it.
Carbajal was downed in rounds 1 and 5, and he was bleeding from his right eyebrow when he blasted a tremendous right hand to the side of Chiquitas chin in the seventh round. Gonzalez turned sideways, and another right hand sent him flat to the canvas. He could not beat the count, and Michael Carbajal had unified the world's Jr. Flyweight championship in Ring Magazine's fight of the year.
Soon, Carbajal could be seen around Phoenix on various ads, such as the one he did for Diet Pepsi, and a tv one he did for Emergency Chiropractors. But he ran into trouble with the police, being accused of firing shots on to the roof of a party in Scottsdale, Arizona. His family didn't stay behind, and his sister was accused by the police of being involved in a midnight altercation at a Phoenix gas station. All this unwanted attention took it's toll on Carbajal, and after two defenses, he and Gonzalez met once again, on Pay Per View at Los Angeles. This time, Carbajal was outboxed during parts of the fight and couldn't find the right punch to end it, and so he lost a close and split decision, to suffer his first career defeat.
Carbajal next took on tough Abner Barajas, winning by a fifth-round knockout in Laughlin, Nevada, and then he was given another shot at becoming a world champion by the brave WBO world champ Josue Camacho, who came from Puerto Rico to the difficult former champion and now challenger's hometown to defend his title. In front of another national audience, this time on ESPN, Carbajal put on a brilliant performance and won a unanimous 12-round decision over the tough as nails Camacho, who was never even rocked despite being blasted on several occasions with combinations to the head and body, and who left the ring with a record of 15-3 and six knockouts after the defeat.
A world champion again, Carbajal set to try to recover his International Boxing Federation and WBC belts against Gonzalez in a third unification bout between the 2 warriors, and in November of 1994, two months after the Camacho victory, they met once again, this time in Mexico City. Once again, it was a close and split decision, and once again, Carbajal came on the short end of it. He wouldn't give up, however, and he kept training under the guidance of his brother, Danny Carbajal, the only man ever to train Michael.
He put another string of seven wins together, including former world champion Jose Quirino, beaten in 1 round, and tough Mauro Salas, who lasted 7. Then he met two-time world champion Melchor Cob Castro in Las Vegas for Castro's IBF Jr. Flyweight title. Castro had won the title after Gonzalez had retired, leaving it vacant. Carbajal once again showed the brilliancy of before and beat Castro by unanimous decision.
His third title reign lasted 22 months and three defenses, (including a eighth-round knockout of tough two-time challenger Tomas Rivera) before he lost his crown again. On January 18, 1997, Carbajal suddenly looked aged and was unable to do anything against the charges of Colombian Mauricio Pastrana. Carbajal still made the fight close, but lost a 12-round split decision.
After that, a fight that should have taken place long before came up, as Carbajal met Canada's Scotty Olson in San Antonio, Texas, in yet another Pay Per View fight. Carbajal showed he had more left than Olson did, and dominated the fight until a spectacular right hand sent Olson down for the count in round 11.
The win over Olson gave Carbajal a minor title, but in July of 1997 in Las Vegas once again, he was shockingly handled by South Africa's Jacob Matlala. Matlala handed Carbajal his first knockout defeat ever, finishing the past-his-prime former world champion in round nine. Carbajal did not fight for 19 months after this defeat.
Although counted out by most boxing experts when he announced a comeback early in 1999, Carbajal still had one last hurrah left in him. He won three bouts, and on July 31, 1999, he took the short flight from Phoenix to Tijuana to challenge WBO world Jr. Flyweight champion Jorge Arce, who was fighting in his hometown. In one of the year's best fights, Arce dominated Carbajal for nine of the first 10 rounds, but the older man showed he was still dangerous when he floored the 20-year-old Arce in the eighth round. The fight moved along, but once again, Carbajal's lightning struck in the 11th. This time, Carbajal struck with a devastating overhead right that sent Arce helplessly into the ropes. The referee stopped the fight, and Michael Carbajal was a world champion for the fourth time.
After this fight, Carbajal understood it was time to retire, and he did so the way every boxer would like to do it--as a current world champ. Carbajal is trying to live a quieter life nowadays in Phoenix, but he does many public appearances. He enjoys meeting his public and signing autographs for his fans, and remains in his old fighting weight.
His career record was 49 wins against just four losses, with 33 wins coming by way of knockout.