Elorde was the WBC Junior lightweight (Super Featherweight) champion from March 20, 1960 until June 15, 1967 and WBA Super featherweight champion from February 16, 1963 to June 15, 1967 making him the longest reigning world junior lightweight champion ever (seven years and three months). He also outpointed all time great featherweight champion Sandy Saddler in 1955 in a non-title bout. In 1956 he was given a rematch with Saddler, this time with Saddler's featherweight title on the line, but Elorde suffered a cut eye and lost the fight on a 13th round TKO.
After his retirement, Elorde remained in the Philippines within the public eye, prominent as a popular commercial endorser, especially of San Miguel Beer. In fact, his San Miguel Beer TV commercial (which he made with Bert Marcelo and Rico J. Puno) wherein he famously said the words ".... isang platitong mani (one plate of peanuts) was recently named as the No.1 Filipino advertisement of all time.
In 1993, he became the first Asian inducted into the New York-based International Boxing Hall of Fame. He was also enshrined into the World Boxing Hall of Fame. Elorde's father-in-law, Lope Sarreal, was one of Asia's most prominent boxing promoters who was himself later inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.