must have felt like he was getting a year's worth of punishment from
Chavez . The challenger's battle plan was to stay
on top of
Rosario , whose record was 27-2. "I respect his
Chavez had said before the fight. "You can't give
Rosario room to work." For most of the night the
only thing closer to
Rosario 's face than
Chavez 's fists was his own mustache. Working
flashing combinations of double and triple hooks from both sides,
Chavez hammered at
Rosario 's body through the first six rounds. Then
he went to work on the head.
Rosario 's punching credentials are impressive. He
has knocked out 23 opponents. But against
Chavez his fists—even when they did penetrate a
defense forged by
Chavez 's dazzling hand speed—hardly earned a
blink, which can be wearing on even a champion's confidence.
Rosario spent most of his time backed onto the
ropes, trying to fend off
Chavez 's inexhaustible arsenal of short, cruel
In the eighth round, as
Chavez 's efforts were almost exclusively focused
on the head, features of
Rosario 's face became lost amid the lumps. Blood
began to flow from cuts inside his mouth and from a cut on the edge of his
right eye. One savage uppercut sent his gory mouthpiece flying.
By the end of the 10th round—when the fight should
have been stopped—Rosario's left eye had been hammered shut. His right was a
puffy slit. At that point
Rosario 's courage could not have been doubted; he
should have been told to retire.
But no. His corner sent him out again. Rising from
Rosario peered back at his people, as though
questioning their judgment. Then he shrugged and went forward. For the next
2:36, he helplessly absorbed 73 punches from
Chavez , only one of which was a jab.
Rosario 's trainer, Lalo Medina, threw in the
towel, which caught referee
Steele 's attention when it smacked against his
back. It came too late to qualify as an act of mercy.
Chavez displayed a badly bruised right hand. The
last two knuckles were black-and-blue and swollen. "I did it in the fifth
round," he said.
"Did you stop throwing it?" asked someone who must
have missed the fight.
"Are you crazy?" said
Chavez . "It hurt, but I figured
it was hurting him a lot more than it was hurting me." He was right about
Sports Illustrated (Nov. 30 1987)