3. Jose Luis Ramirez KO 4 Edwin Rosario II — November 3, 1984, Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Eighteen months earlier, Rosario and Ramirez battled for the WBC lightweight title vacated by Alexis Arguello before his first fight with Aaron Pryor. That bout, held at nearby Roberto Clemente Coliseum, ended with Rosario winning a narrow unanimous decision many thought Ramirez deserved due to an inspired late-round surge. The controversy helped set the table for this rematch, which was aired on NBC’s “SportsWorld” anthology show.
Since their first bout the hot-and-cold Rosario remained hot-and-cold. In his first defense, “Chapo” destroyed Roberto Elizondo in 117 seconds but in his last outing in June 1984 he had to score a knockdown in the waning seconds to secure a split decision over hard-luck 1976 Olympian Howard Davis Jr. Conversely, Ramirez – already a 92-fight veteran at age 25 – went 5-0 (4 KOs) against modest opposition.
If the first fight was comparatively tepid, the rematch was tumultuous. Rosario roared from his corner and instantly scored a flash knockdown with a lead right to the chin. Although Ramirez didn’t seem badly hurt Rosario knew from the first fight that his rival had great recuperative powers so he got going when the going was good. He blanketed Ramirez with punches and his straight rights connected seemingly at will. Ramirez made it to the bell but his troubles deepened in the second when a combination capped by another right decked him a second time. Again, Rosario came at him in waves and again the stoic Mexican found his way back to the stool.
On a day which saw countryman Juan “Kid” Meza score a lightning-bolt upset of Jaime Garza, Ramirez grabbed some for himself in round three. A wicked overhand left turned Rosario’s legs to jelly and suddenly it was Rosario’s turn to survive an avalanche. He managed to avoid hitting the floor, but just barely.
The fourth round was pure warfare as both fired their best weapons. An overhand left initially shook Rosario a little more than two minutes into the round and another one pushed him toward the ropes, then the corner pad. There Ramirez struck with a flurry that included a right hook that stiffened Rosario’s legs. That, in turn, ignited an unanswered 34-punch barrage that ended with Ramirez thrice hitting a helpless Rosario from the back side. Referee Steve Crosson leaped between the fighters and signaled the end of Rosario’s reign and the beginning of Ramirez’s.