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RUBEN WILTS A ROSE
Jack Tobin
September 01, 1969
A swinging Mexican with a ring in his shoe, a car on his mind and one of the hardest left hooks anywhere takes the bantamweight championship from Australian aborigine Lionel Rose at Los Angeles
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September 01, 1969

Ruben Wilts A Rose

A swinging Mexican with a ring in his shoe, a car on his mind and one of the hardest left hooks anywhere takes the bantamweight championship from Australian aborigine Lionel Rose at Los Angeles

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The end almost came in the third round, but Rose began to protect his head from the battering and forced Olivares to shift his attack to the body. And again the mouthpiece flew. In the fourth round Olivares was in full command. Blows came from all sides, from all angles. They flew off the gloves Rose held alongside his head with a bang that was clearly audible over the never-ending roar of the crowd.

Only 55 seconds of the fifth round had slipped by when Rose's mouthpiece sailed out again. This time Rose wanted no replacement for it. He quickly kicked it out of the ring. It was obvious that the end was near; Rose knew it and there was no need to delay things further.

Two vicious left hooks to the body tore into Rose's ribs about midway in the round, and with 1:40 gone another hook put him down. It was a five count before he was up, and again the mandatory eight. A flurry of red leather lashed Rose's head. A left, a right, a left and then a solid right hand dropped him on all fours. Referee Larry Rozadilla didn't hesitate, didn't count. He waved Olivares off, pointed to Rose's corner that it was over and raised the Latin's hand in triumph.

It was a case of brisk destruction. Rose had never been a factor. He never had a chance to display his boxing skills. He never landed a truly damaging blow. He was up against too many guns.

If the title challenge that was supposed to be a classic between boxer and bomber never materialized, one other Forum challenge did. It took place as Olivares' hand was elevated in triumph. From all sides came a swarm of Ruben's admirers. A hundred were in the ring in an instant. But the police were prepared. One rooter made it in over the middle rope only to come flying out over the top one. Another came slithering in on his belly, crawling between and around legs until he found air space. Police bounced him out on two hops and he landed in the press row. A third tried to Valeri Brumel it, jumping the top rope. He was greeted by a policeman's forearm that put him down and out on the apron.

Ultimately the shakers and greeters capitulated, especially after Olivares put on the traditional sombrero and rode around the ring on the shoulders of his handlers. But it was a good 30 minutes after Rose had gone to his quarters before Olivares came dancing down he hallway to his dressing room.

By then Rose was saying, "I knew the bloke could punch hard, but I didn't think he would punch that hard. He's got machine guns hanging off those arms and he never quits firing."

Rose credited Olivares' vicious body attack for finally cutting him down. "He kept hitting me up under the rib cage," he said. "I couldn't get my breath."

Rose paused to press an ice pack carefully against his lip. "That's the worst Lionel has ever been beaten," conceded his manager, Jack Rennie. "That punch in the second round that knocked out his mouthpiece threw him off balance and he never regained his tempo. From the second round on he was fighting on stamina and guts alone."

Would there be a rematch? The answer came fast and sharp: "No rematch. We're moving up to the next division."

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