Edwin "El Chapo" Rosario (March
15, 1963 - December 1, 1997) was a Puerto Rican boxer. He won the
lightweight championship three times, as the WBC lightweight champion
(1983-84), and the WBA champion (1986-87) and (1989-90). After moving
up to the junior welterweight class, he won the WBA championship,
holding the title from 1991 to 1992.
Early life and career
Rosario was born in Barrio Candelaria, Toa Baja, an extremely poor
barrio on the north coast of Puerto Rico. Rosario's older brother
Papo became a professional boxer with what looked like a promising
His boxing manager and coach (trainer), Manny Siaca
Sr., had noticed the younger Edwin Rosario's talent when he was 8
years old. Inspired by his brother Papo, Chapo Rosario, as he became
known in the world of boxing, had a stellar amateur boxing career.
Chapo's brother Papo died unexpectedly, supposedly do to drugs,
two years after his move to professional boxing. Rosario persevered,
wanting to honor his brother's memory by winning a world championship.
He scored big knockout wins over Young Ezzard Charles and Edwin Viruet,
the former in three rounds on the Holmes-Cooney undercard, and the
latter, who had boxed 25 rounds against Roberto Duran including a
world lightweight championship bout without being knocked out, also
in three rounds.
He eventually gained a record of 21-0 with 20
knockouts. This led to talks of a title fight against World Boxing
Council (WBC) lightweight champion Alexis Arguello, to be held in
Miami, but Arguello relinquished the title to move up in weight to
challenge junior welterweight champion Aaron Pryor.
Arguello moving divisons, Rosario was matched with Mexico's Jose Luis
Ramirez on May 1, 1983 for the vacant WBC lightweight title. Rosario
dominated the first 7 rounds, but tired down the stretch to make for
a very close fight. The judges, as well as most of the public present,
felt Rosario had done enough to win. He became world lightweight champion
by the unanimous score of 115-113 on all 3 judging cards. Rosario
injured his hand during the fight and needed surgery, for which the
World Boxing Council gave him a dispensation.
Rosario did not
return to the ring until 1984. In his first defense of the title,
he faced Roberto Elizondo,, who had lasted 7 rounds with Arguello
in a previous world title challenge and was expected to give him a
tough fight. Rosario knocked out Elizondo in one round. Howard Davis
Jr. proved more of a challenge, Davis Jr. was ahead on all scorecards
with ten seconds remaining in the bout, but was dropped by Rosario
and lost a split decision.
A rematch with Ramirez was scheduled,
again in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on November 3, 1984. Rosario dropped
Ramirez once in round one and again in the second, but the challenger
got off the canvas to take Rosario's title away with a fourth round
TKO. This was Rosario's first defeat. Some fans felt he never fully
recovered, although he won three more championships.
won a comeback fight against Frankie Randall, the future world champion,
in London. He had to wait another year before an opportunity to regain
the title. On June 13, 1986, he met the world champion Hector 'Macho'
Camacho at Madison Square Garden in New York. The fight was televised
by HBO, and although Rosario shook Camacho badly in the fifth round
and rallied down the stretch, Camacho swept the middle rounds. The
judges, in a split decision, awarded Camacho the fight.
of the closeness of that bout, the WBA gave Rosario a chance to challenge
Livingstone Bramble, the other world lightweight champion. Rosario
went to Miami and defeated Bramble by knockout in the second round
to become world lightweight champion for the second time. His pose,
raising his arms after the fight, became The Ring magazine cover for
the next month.