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Griffith Earns Split Decision Over Rodriguez, Keeps Welterweight Crown

June 13, 1964 - Welterweight champion Emile Griffith (left) kept his title last night on a split 15-round decision over ex-champion Luis Rodriguez in a roughhouse, gong-to-gong battle that marked their third and decisive struggle for the 147-pound crown.

It was a mild upset because Rodriguez had been favored at 8-5 to recapture the title from Griffith in the nationally televised battle in the Las Vegas Convention Center.

There were no knockdowns. Griffith, weighing 146 pounds to Rodriguez’s 146½, took the verdict because of his apparently harder punches and because he cut Rodriguez on the right brow and the mouth. The champion’s only marks of battle were swellings on both cheeks.

Griffith, 25 years old and the only man who ever won the welterweight title three times, was staggered at least five times by solid shots to the head. He buckled Rodriguez’s legs three times.

During the stormy encounter, only one penalty was given by the referee. He took a point away from Rodriguez in the third round for low blows after the fight’s wildest melee in which both were warned several times for hitting on the break, heeling with the glove laces, and hitting while holding.

In the 12th round, they fought for a few seconds after the bell before the referee could stop them. Griffith shook his glove at Luis as if he wanted to resume despite the referee.

Rodriguez complained bitterly in the dressing room that the ring officials had again “taken the fight away from me just like they did in New York.”

He was referring to their second title fight at Madison Square Garden on June 8, 1963, when Griffith won a split verdict over the Cuban.

“I guess I can’t ever win the title again,” said Luis sadly, “and I guess I’ll have to go after the middleweight title.”

Griffith announced in his dressing room that he wants to fight for Joey Giardello’s middleweight title sometime this summer.

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