Colombian former boxing world champion Valdez dead at 71

This photo taken on December 1, 1974 shows Rodrigo Valdez (L) from Colombia fighting with his French counterpart Gratien Tonna in Paris during their World Middleweight Title championship match

Colombian boxer Rodrigo "Rocky" Valdez, legendary opponent of Argentina's Carlos Monzon and a former world middleweight champion, has died at 71, his wife said Wednesday.

Valdez, who won 68 of his 73 bouts including 42 by KO, according to the World Boxing Council (WBC), died in his hometown of Cartagena de Indias in northern Colombia.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos paid tribute to the former boxer, tweeting a picture of him with Valdez and the words: "Today we say farewell to Rocky Valdez, who with his courage in the ring filled the country with glory and triumphs."

Born February 22, 1946, Valdez began his boxing career aged 16.

In 1974 he won the WBC middleweight title but two years later he lost the crown to Monzon.

After Monzon retired Valdez became WBA and WBC campion in 1977-1978, before quitting the ring in 1980.

Valdez's wife Ana Tijerino told local radio that he died on Tuesday night.