Edwin RosarioEdwin Rosario (1961-1997) was more like a Boxing version of the Puerto Rican plant Mori-vivi. (Mori-Vivi means dead-alive in Spanish). Unfortunately, at the end, his long battle with a suspected drug addiction caused him to really die at the age of 36,and, of course, this time he had to stay dead.
Chapo, as he was known around the world of boxing, was born in Barrio Candelaria, Toa Baja, an extremely poor barrio filled with sandy streets and kids and dogs playing on them. Chapo had a stellar amateur boxing career, inspired by his brother Papo Rosario, a buddying professional who was expected to become one of Puerto Rico's greatest all time fighters, until his supposedly drug related death.
Rosario, who had turned professional 2 years before his brother's death, kept on going, wanting to honor his brother's memory by winning a world championship. He scored big knockout wins over Young Ezzard Charles in 3 rounds (in the Holmes-Cooney undercard) and Edwin Viruet. By this time , he was 20-0 with 18 knockouts. There was talks of a title fight with World lightweight champion Alexis Arguello, to be held in Miami, but Arguello abandoned the division to challenge Aaron Pryor in a rematch.
Rosario then was matched with Mexico's Jose Luis Ramirez, and in May 1, 1983, Rosario dominated the first 7 rounds, but tired down the stretch to make for a very close fight. The judges, and most of the public present, felt Rosario had done enough to win, and Edwin Rosario had become world lightweight champion by the unanimous score of 115-113 on all 3 judging cards. As it turned out, Rosario injured his hand during the fight and needed surgery, for which the World Boxing Council gave him a dispense.
Rosario went back to the ring in 1984 and in his first defense, he knocked out Roberto Elizondo in 1 round. Elizondo had lasted 7 rounds with Arguello in a previous world title challenge and was expected to give Rosario a tough challenge. Then came Howard Davis Jr, who was leading Rosario on all scorecards and then was dropped with 10 seconds to go in the bout, losing a Split decision.
A rematch with Ramirez was signed and they met in San Juan for the second time November 3, 1984. Rosario dropped Ramirez once in round 1 and again in round 2, but Ramirez was well trained and got off the canvas to take Rosario's title away with a 4 round technical knockout. It was Rosario's first defeat, and he seemed to never fully recovered from it.
He won a comeback fight vs future world champion Frankie Randall in London and then had to wait one more year before an opportunity to recover the title. On June 13, 1986, he met world champion Hector 'Macho' Camacho at the Madison Square Garden in New York. The fight was televised by HBO, and although Rosario shook Camacho badly in round 5 and rallied down the stretch, Camacho swept the middle rounds and the judges thought that had been enough for him to retain the title by a split decision. To this day, fans debate whether Rosario deserved the win or Camacho did.
Because of the closeness of that bout, the WBA gave him a chance to challenge the other world lightweight champion, Livingstone Bramble and he went to Miami and defeated Bramble by a knockout in round two to become world lightweight champion for the second time. His pose raising his arms after the fight became Ring Magazine's cover for next month, the only time Rosario was featured on the cover of that magazine's English version. He defended the title against fellow Puerto Rican Juan Nazario with a knockout in 8 in Chicago, but in his next defense, had to give the title away to Julio Cesar Chavez in Las Vegas. At the end of the fight, Chavez's face was red from all the leather he ate from Rosario, but it was Rosario who was reeling off the ropes and with an eye closed as the fight got stopped in round 11. Rosario lost, but he didn't lose any credit in losing to a great like Chavez and giving him a war before losing.
Rosario again took off one year, but after Chavez vacated the title in 1989, Rosario came back and won it again, beating tough Kronk prospect Anthony Jones for the championship. Rosario had joined the short group of men who had become world champions 3 times in the same division. This time, however, he didn't last long because he gave Nazario a rematch and Nazario stopped him on cuts in 1990 at the Madison Square Garden in the 8th round.
Once again, Rosario came back, doing like the mori-vivi, and he went up in weight to the Jr Welterweight division, defeating defending world champion Loreto Garza in 3 rounds in Sacramento's Arco Arena, to become a world champion for the 4th time. By then, however, personal problems had started to take their toll on him and for his first defense, vs Japanese Akinobu Hiranaka in Mexico City in 1992, he clearly was not the same Chapo his fans grew accustomed to. He was stopped in the first round, and for all purposes, his career as a serious boxer was over then.
Chapo disappeared from the scene then, but years later, he showed up on the wrong end of the newspapers, being arrested after stealing some beer from a supermarket. He bowed to try to stay clean and went into a program to try to achieve this. in 1997, he won 2 comeback fights, then won the Caribbean welterweight title by beating Roger Arias of Nicaragua in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, by a 12 round decision. Chapo, once an HBO staple, was now fighting on small cards without any tv showings. He was, however, ranked #10 among Oscar De La Hoya's challengers at the welterweight division after his win over Arias, making him an official world title challenger once again.
Sadly, he passed away before any more fights could take place, dying of an aneurism in December of 1997. Many celebrities and dignataries attened his funeral, and a group of Puerto Rican world boxing champions were among the pallbearers. More than 5 thousand people came to the funeral or watched from their homes as the coffin was driven from the funeral home to the cemetery.