Latino athletes made headlines throughout 2015. We were treated to plenty of homeruns, knockouts and goals – lots of goals. Here’s what went down this year:
Joey Bats and the bat flip seen around the world:
It took Jose Bautista 11 years to play in the MLB postseason and he made it a memorable one. The Dominicano’s epic home run helped the Blue Jays defeat the Texas Rangers in Game 5 of the ALDS. Unfortunately for Bautista, the Blue Jays couldn’t get past the eventual champs, the Kansas City Royals.
The UFC went to Mexico for the first time and two Latino heavyweights faced off.
Credit: UFC / sherdog.com
UFC held its first pay-per-view event in Mexico City, and Brazilian Fabricio Werdum punished Cain Velaquez to snatch the UFC Heavyweight title. Although Velasquez was returning to the Octagon after a 20-month layoff, most experts expected a much closer fight. Werdum, known for his jiu-jitsu game, kept the fight standing and surprised Cain with his improved striking game. Werdum controlled the fight and submitted Velasquez in the third round of their bout.
Leo Messi continued to show he’s from a different planet.
Leo Messi nearly broke Jerome Boateng’s ankles (and Twitter) after this brilliant goal against Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal back in May.
The Kansas City Royals found their “savior.”
Venezuelan and Royals catcher Salvador Perez was named the World Series MVP after Kansas City defeated the Mets in five games. And of course, Royals fans began calling Perez their savior.
A Mexico vs. Puerto Rico boxing matchup leads to another title for Canelo.
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez capped an unforgettable 2015 by defeating Miguel Cotto in November to win the WBC middleweight belt.
Hey, this Carlos Correa kid can play!
Puerto Rican sensation Carlos Correa concluded his magical first year in the big leagues by winning the AL Rookie of the Year. The Astros’ shortstop is drawing comparisons to Alex Rodriguez (before everyone hated Alex Rodriguez).
Chicharito quieted his haters with a clutch goal.
Credit: Fox Soccer
After riding the bench at Real Madrid for most of the season, Chicharito scored a game-winning goal versus Atletico Madrid –Real’s hated rival – to send them into the semifinals of the Champions League. He’s since moved on to Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen, where he’s been scoring goals left and right.
A Mexican and an American rode into the history books.
Mexican jockey Victor Espinoza and his horse American Pharaoh captured the first Triple Crown since 1978.
The new pound-for-pound king is from Nicaragua.
— Roman Gonzalez (@chocolatitobox) November 23, 2015
Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez was named the new pound-for-pound king in boxing after Floyd Mayweather retired. The Nicaraguan boasts a perfect 44-0 record.
Big Papi’s 500th home run.
David Ortiz added to his Hall-of-Fame resume by joining the 500 home runs club. Big Papi said 2016 will be his last season in the MLB.
Canelo-Cotto event produced the fight of the year, but it wasn’t Cotto vs. Canelo.
Francisco Vargas was headed for a loss against Takashi Miura, but the Mexican warrior rallied despite a swollen shut right eye. In an epic ninth round, Vargas knocked out the Japanese boxer to win the WBC featherweight title during the Canelo-Cotto undercard.
After lots of controversy, Mexico beats the USA in CONCACAF Cup.
After advancing through the CONCACAF Gold Cup in controversial fashion – Mexico was awarded questionable penalties in matches versus Costa Rica and Panama – Mexico defeated Jamaica soundly to win the title. That led to a face-off with the US in the CONCACAF Cup. Paul Aguilar’s goal in overtime lifted Mexico past the United States at the Rose Bowl in October.
The Hawks go streaking to start 2015.
Dominican power forward Al Horford was a major reason why his Hawks went 17-0 in January and extended the streak to 19 games. Atlanta advanced to the Eastern Conference finals where they fell to the Cavaliers.