On This Day: Alexis Arguello overcomes Rafael ‘Bazooka’ Limon in 11 rounds

alexis arguello
Nicaraguan great Alexis Arguello won a bloody New York City title fight in 1979

Original Boxing News Fight Report from the July 8, 1979 battle

ALEXIS ARGUELLO of Nicaragua, preceded into the ring by a Sandanista banner, retained the WBC junior lightweight title by stopping Mexico’s Rafael “bazooka” Limon in the 11th round of a bloody-spattered fight at Madison Square Garden’s felt forum, and afterward dedicated the victory to “all those who have died” in the Nicaraguan civil war and to the cause of the Sandanista rebel forces.

The blood or most of it came from an ugly cut over Limon’s right eye. The gash, running from his eyebrow up in to his forehead, was like a hatchet wound and Limon’s body and yellow trunks were splattered with blood. But Limon protested angrily when the referee Tony Perez called a halt after one minute and 40 seconds of the round. The Mexican wished to fight on but the referee reckoned the cut was too bad. Arguello, making his fifth title defence, was comfortably in front on all three official score cards. The referee had him on 98-94 on the WBC 10-point system, while Judge Arti Aidela had it 99-93, and women judge Eva Shain scored 98-92.

Southpaw Limon fought strongly against the heavily favoured champion. He stood up to some crunching rights to the jaw and although staggered was never off his feet. The crowd roared as Limon took the fight to Arguello and slammed away with both hands to head and body in the first four rounds. But the 5ft 10ins Arguello, taller by three inches , and enjoying a three and a half inches reach advantage, began to get steadily into control of the fight in the fifth round with his straighter, harder punches at long range. Limon suffered the cut over the right eye in the first round. He complained that Arguello had butted him but the referee Perez waved them to continue. The cut steadily worsened and by the sixth Limon was consistently wiping away the blood that streamed down his face and into his right eye. But Limon (9st 3lbs) gave Arguello (9st 4lbs) plenty of trouble, crashing in lefts to the jaw to rock Arguello and force him back round the ring in the second and third rounds.

The third round was especially exciting with Arguello being driven into the ropes and getting hit by rights and lefts before coming back to send Limon tottering back with a driving right to the jaw in the closing seconds of the round. Limon was still in the fight in the fourth with swings and hooks while Arguello placed the cleaner, more accurate blows. In the fifth Arguello seemed to be gradually taking charge with his stiff jabs and following rights, although Limon kept punching back.

Limon’s corner kept stemming the cut but at the start of every round Arguello’s jabs and straight rights just started the blood streaming again. Arguello was beginning to dictate the fight in the sixth and seventh rounds, punching through the middle of Limon’s southpaw guard. Limon was bleeding from the nose and had minor welts under and around the eyes and a small cut over the left eye as well as the bad gash over the right. Arguello, too, showed marks of battle with redness under both eyes and an abrasion on the bridge of the nose.

Limon rallied gamely in the ninth and tagged Arguello with looping lefts but near the end of the round two hard rights to the jaw had Limon retreating again. In the 10th round saw Arguello in virtually complete command. Limon’s eye injury was now bleeding profusely and he looked in a shocking state. Arguello’s arm was smothered in challenger’s blood and Limon’s face was a crimson mask. Limon landed an occasional blow but he was no longer hitting with authority while Arguello’s punches were thudding home and jerking back the Mexican’s head.

It was the same pattern in the 11th when the referee finally decided things had gone on long enough.


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