1969-11-22 Nino Benvenuti w co 11 (15) Luis Rodriguez, Sports Palace, Rome, Italy - WORLD

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1969-11-22 Nino Benvenuti w co 11 (15) Luis Rodriguez, Sports Palace, Rome, Italy - WORLD. Referee: Mario Carabellese. Using his height and reach to good effect, the champion took the opening two rounds before being cut over the left eye by a slashing right from Rodriguez (156) in the third and being forced to box more defensively to protect the wound. With Benvenuti (159½) continuing to cover up, Rodriguez began to get more shots off, and in the sixth he opened up a cut on the Italian’s nose. By the seventh Benvenuti had become more aggressive, catching his rival with blows to head and body, but the next three sessions were evenly contested, both men scoring with hard punches. It was still anybody’s fight. Benvenuti was still scoring, but it was Rodriguez, throwing hooks and jabs, who caught the eye. Then, in the 11th, as Rodriguez moved in with a right hook he was caught by a terrific left to the jaw and sent down to be counted out on the 1.08 mark.

Having stopped Benvenuti in the eighth round of a non-title contest in Australia on 13 March 1970, Tom Bethea earned himself a crack at the championship as the Italian looked to rectify things after pulling out with a damaged rib. At that point Bethea had participated in just 16 pro fights, winning ten of them, but apart from Benvenuti his only other victim with any form had been Eddie Owens. However, he was confident that his power, especially to the body, would give him a good chance of a repeat win inside ten rounds.