By: Sean Crose
Edwin Rosario was riding high. Not only had the Puerto Rican fighter nearly humbled Hector Camacho, he had upset Livingstone Bramble for the WBA lightweight title just a year earlier. Now the twenty four year old Rosario was getting an extensive write up in the New York Times on the eve of his bout against the lauded, but widely unknown, Julio Caesar Chavez. The match was a notable event for boxing, one to be aired live by HBO from the outdoor arena at the Las Vegas Hilton on November 21’st, 1987. Again, it was a good time to be Edwin Rosario. Rosario, however, was on the verge of crashing to earth in brutal, sustained fashion. Chavez, on the other hand, was on the cusp of being one of the most celebrated fighters in the business.
As the Daily News recalled years later, in 2015: “Despite being the reigning WBC featherweight champion with a stellar 56-0 record and nine title defenses, the 25-year-old Chavez was pretty much a mystery outside his homeland — most of his bouts had been against his fellow Mexicans.” People outside Mexico were about to find out quite a lot about Chavez, however, for the undefeated fighter was about to give the performance of his life. There would be big moments for Chavez in the years to come, but none would have the career defining impact for Chavez that this one would.
Right from the opening bell to start the fight, it was clear that boxer-puncher Rosario was in for a tough time with his methodical 25 year old opponent. To say Chavez was the type to wear his man down would prove to be something of an understatement. As the Daily News put it: “The fight wore on for nearly 11 punishing rounds — with Rosario receiving most of the punishment. The Puerto Rican champ fought gamely and displayed tremendous heart and spirit, but he was no match for Chavez on this day.” By the time the bout was stopped, Rosario looked like a man who had simply received a beating, which in fact he truly had. Rarely is a one sided fight so grinding yet so violent.
From the moment the bout with Rosario was stopped, Chavez went on a spectacular run in the spotlight. Although his skills eventually wore out and the inevitable loses came, Chavez would retire years later with a record of 107-6-2, virtually unheard of in today’s safety first era of boxing. The fact that Chavez went on to win five more fights the year following his victory over Rosario tells us all we need to know about the man’s approach to the sweet science. He was legitimately a one of a kind fighter.
*(Cover Photo: BOB GALBRAITH/ASSOCIATED PRESS)