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The Puerto Rican ParallelBy Jim Amato
In 1966 two heavyweights of Puerto Rican heritage turned professional. Each would have an impact on the talent rich heavyweight division of the late 60's and early 70's. Their careers would mirror each others and they even took the time to cross gloves on a couple of occasions.
Pedro Agosto and Jose "King" Roman met some of the best heavyweights of the era with a varying degree of success. Agosto's career started with a bang as he reeled off twelve straight kayos. He won his first sixteen overall including a 12th round stoppage of Roman. Jose started with much less fanfare. In 1967 he dropped a decision to rugged Hal Carroll. He also suffered kayo losses to Herman Harris and Al Singletary. In 1968 Jose beat Charlie Polite and Singletary in a rematch. He was halted by Charlie "Emperor" Harris and Agosto.
Pedro had a difficult year in 1969 being shocked in one round by former amateur star Forest Ward. He also lost to Chuck Wepner. Roman used 1969 to start his march toward the big time. He beat Singletary one more time as well as Jack O'Halloran and Wepner. He lost a ten rounder to England's Jack Bodell.
In 1970 Jose again defeated O'Halloran and former title challenger Manuel Ramos. In 1971 Jose lost to Big Roby Harris and Agosto was outscored by White Hope Jim Elder.
The year 1972 would see Roman advance to the forefront of the division while Agosto would fail in the chance of a lifetime. On April 3rd Roman took on Spanish contender Jose Urtain. The Spaniard was being seriously considered for new heavyweight champion George Foreman's first title defense. In front of a wild crowd in San Juan, Jose easily out boxed the lumbering Urtain and put himself in the thick of the title picture. Agosto would meet the come backing former champion Floyd Patterson. Pedro was game but outclassed losing in the sixth round. It would be Floyd's last career victory. Roman closed the year with a win over Terry Daniels.
As Roman awaited a possible title shot Pedro took on the clever Randy Neuman and was halted in the ninth. Finally on September 1st Jose entered a boxing ring in Tokyo, Japan to face the hulking George Foreman for the heavyweight championship of the world. George had dismantled the feared Joe Frazier in two rounds in January. Very few if any gave Roman a serious chance of winning. George did not disappoint as he gave Jose an unmerciful pounding with the fight ending in the first. Pedro and Jose would regroup and meet each other before the year's end with Agosto again coming out on top.
Jose would travel to Madrid in 1974 and be held to a draw by Urtain. He would then move on to Tampa and kayo former light heavyweight title claimant Vincente Rondon in two rounds. He tested the 175 pound division in 1975 losing to Mike Quarry and beating Walter White. He returned to fighting the big boys losing to Dino Dennis and South African Mike Schutte. Pedro would drop decisions to Bunny Johnson and Rod Bobick. On January 22, 1977, four years after relieving Frazier of the crown the now ex-champion Foreman took on Agosto. Again Pedro was game to the core but he was overwhelmed by the powerful Foreman in four rounds. Then on May 7th Pedro was stopped by future champion Leon Spinks in one round.
Although Pedro got the best of Jose in their meetings, Roman always seemed to get more press and recognition. It is too bad that Pedro and Jose were not around for the inception of the bastard cruiserweight division. It is very possible that each could have won that crown before fellow Puerto Rican's Carlos DeLeon and Ossie Ocasio made their mark.
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