Julio Cesar Chavez And Edwin “Chapo” Rosario - Two Great Lightweights On A Collision Course

edwin rosario03.06.07 - By James Slater: Puerto Rico’s Edwin “Chapo” Rosario turned pro in 1979 and, after winning his first twenty-one bouts, all but one by KO, he fought Jose Luis Ramirez of Mexico in a contest that would decide the vacant WBC 135 pound championship. Edwin won the fight, held in May of 1983, unanimously on points over twelve rounds and was a world champion.

He made two successful defences, before losing the crown in a return bout with Ramirez. In a vastly different fight from their first meeting, Ramirez rose from two early knockdowns to prevail by TKO in the fourth. Rosario’s reign as a world champ was over, for the time being. Being the crowd pleaser he was, Rosario was given another chance to rise to the top.

Boxing the self proclaimed, “Macho Man” in Hector Camacho, “Chapo” made him look anything but macho in the later rounds. After shaking the unbeaten Camacho, who had taken the title from Ramirez, Rosario was in hot pursuit of his fellow Puerto Rican, who did nothing but run and fight negatively down the stretch. The champion remained as such thanks to his being awarded a controversial split decision when many ringsiders felt Rosario’s hand should have been raised. Due to the furore the result caused, Edwin was given yet another crack at world glory. This time he seized it with both hands.

Crushing the talented Livingstone Bramble in just two rounds three years on from his first tenure as a world champion, Rosario was the new WBA lightweight king. One successful retention followed - an eight round stoppage over yet another Puerto Rican boxer in Juan Nazario - before a match-up with a certain Mr. Julio Cesar Chavez of Culiacan, Mexico.

Chavez began his pro career one year after Rosario, and like the man he would eventually face, he too went unbeaten as a fighter until receiving his first shot at a world title. In fact, Julio would one day reach the astonishingly impressive figure of ninety-one fights without a loss! (one draw). That day was still some time away, however. Challenging his countryman, Mario Martinez for the vacant WBC super featherweight championship in September of 1984, Julio was successful in eight rounds. He
went on to make nine defences in less than three years, a fine work-rate. Julio then made the move up to lightweight. The man standing in the way of his second world championship was the lethal punching Rosario.

They met at The Las Vegas Hilton on the 21st of November 1987, and a quite magnificent display of fighting prowess from the twenty-five year old Chavez followed. Though many expected to see a close and competitive fight, one that the slugger from Puerto Rico could very possibly win by a KO, what they got was a one sided master class from an all-time great. Rosario shipped an awful lot of punishment over the eleven rounds the fight went. His courage was admirable, without a doubt. But the relentlessly forward moving machine he had in front of him on this night proved to be way too much.

Chavez had an absolutely iron chin, a great array of punches to both body and head and seemingly limitless stamina. All combined, these attributes served to steadily destroy the slightly younger man. The beating began almost right from the opening bell and by the eleventh round Edwin had one eye hammered almost completely shut and a mouth that was badly spitting blood. Referee Richard Steele had seen enough and intervened at two minutes and thirty-eight seconds of the round. Chavez was the new holder of the WBA lightweight title.

Both men continued fighting for a living for a number of years to come. Chavez went on to reach the aforementioned 90-0-1, collecting another world title (light-welter) and drawing for a fourth (welter) along the way. While Rosario ploughed on in an assortment of further world title chances. “Chapo” actually managed to become a world champ on another two occasions. Firstly
he regained his old title - thanks to Chavez vacating it so as to go up in weight - with a sixth round stoppage win over Anthony Jones. Then, after losing the WBA lightweight title for a second time - by TKO to former victim Juan Nazario - Rosario moved up himself and smashed his way to the WBA light-welterweight championship with a third round destruction of Loreto
Garza. And finally, in his last world title fight, he was relieved of this belt by way of a defeat to the Japanese fighter, Akinobu Hiranaka, in one sensational round. This post-Chavez period of Edwin’s career, possibly the most eventful, all took place between the years 1989 and 1992. By which time, of course, Julio was, and still is, referred to as a living legend.
With all he managed to achieve, Rosario doesn’t deserve to be too far behind, does he?

Shockingly, after a comeback staged in 1997, Rosario, who by this time had gotten himself seriously involved with drugs, died of a brain Aneurysm on the first of December that year. At the time he was still a world ranked fighter and was aged only thirty-four. Boxing has had its share of tragedies but Edwin’s death has to rank pretty highly amongst them.

He was not as skilful as Chavez, he didn’t posses anywhere near as good a chin and ultimately he was no match for him when they met almost twenty years ago. But in terms of guts, determination and excitement value, Edwin “Chapo” Rosario was neck and neck with “J.C Superstar.”

Indeed, both men were great 135 pound fighters in their own right. It just so happened that they were on a collision course from which only one could emerge as the superior.

Article posted on 03.06.2007

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