By: Jim Amato
What would have happened if two of the best Italian born middleweight champions would have squared of against each other? Nino Benvenuti, 5″11″ from Trieste against Vito Antuofermo, 5″ 7 1/2′ from Bari. The slick boxing Nino and the rugged, brawling Vito. The perfect boxer -vs- slugger match up.
Benvenuti is considered one of the best amateur boxers of all time and he won the Gold Medal in the 1960 Olympics. He turned pro in 1961 and did not lose a fight until 1966. He ended up with a 82-7-1 record. Please remember six of those losses came in his last seventeen fights.
Antuofermo was a mauler with a good chin and was always in tip top
condition. He was an Arturo Gatti type warrior with tremendous determination. He had a 50-7-2 ledger. Vito’s best night was probably his 1979 draw with Marvin Hagler. Nino’s best night was most likely his 1967 victory over Emile Griffith. OK the stage has been set. Let the fight begin.
Round 1- Vito rushes out and attempts to bull Nino to the ropes. Nino
avoids the onslaught and begins to use a snappy left jab to keep Vito at
bay. Antuofermo continues to pursue but Nino has little trouble winning this round.
Round 2- Vito comes out fast again but Nino is boxing smoothly. Benvenuti’s jab is right on target and Vito is beginning to swell over both eyes. Nevertheless Vito keeps plowing forward. Another round for Nino.
Round 3- Nino continues to box well but Vito is able to get inside a
little more often and work the body. Nino lands a couple of nice uppercuts
to meet Vito on the way in. Better round for Vito but Nino wins it.
Round 4- Vito is boring in like a freight train but Benvenuti is
jabbing away. Vito lands his first effective head shot, a short left hook
that Nino took well. Then after breaking from a clinch, Vito is moving only to be met by a solid hook the drops him to one knee. Antuofermo is up at five and he seems more surprised then hurt. Benvenuti quickly moves in and lands a couple of hard right hands but Vito three vicious hooks to Nino’s body. A 10-8 round for Benvenuti.
Round 5- A Benvenuti jab has split Vito’s right eye open. Vito’s enraged as he wades in to Benvenuti and lands effective body punches. Nino complains to the referee about low blows. An overhand right by Vito catches Benvenuti and he falls against the ropes. Vito’s on him but Nino covers up well. First round scored for Vito.
Round 6- Freddie Brown has patched up Vito’s eye and he’s right back
on the attack. Benvenuti is trying to keep him off with the jab and a few
looping rights. Vito takes the shots well and just keeps moving in. Now Nino is complaining to the referee about head butts. Close round for Vito.
Round 7- This time it’s Nino who opens fast and his barrage has caught
Vito by surprise. There are some very good exchanges this round but Vito’s
eye cut has re-opened and it’s starting to look ugly. An entertaining round scored for Benvenuti.
Round-8- Freddie Brown growls at the ringside doctor who came up to
inspect Vito’s cut. Brown again masterfully stems the flow of blood. It is
obvious that Nino is aiming at the cut. Vito is doing a good job of weaving under the jab and landing to Nino’s body. Benvenuti is starting to slow down but a hard straight right has opened a cut over Vito’s left eye. Close round for Vito.
Round 9- Mr. Brown has his work cut out him for but Vito is right back
out there flailing away. Nino lands a flurry of hard shots and both cuts are open again. A solid left hook rocks Vito. As Nino moves in Antuofermo lands a solid body punch that appears low. Nino quickly complains to the referee who warns Vito. Nino boxes the rest of the way to win the round.
Round 10- The doctor again visits the corner and he is greeted by
another tongue tirade from Mr. Brown. Vito is up and out and Nino is there
to meet him. A solid left by Vito draws blood from Benvenuti’s nose. Vito is swarming all over Nino who seems to be having trouble keeping an energized Antuofermo off of him. Good round for Vito who’s back in the fight.
Round 11- Vito continues to be the aggressor but Nino’s counter shots
have again opened both cuts. Vito lands a solid right to the head and Nino’s knees buckled for a moment. Antuofermo tries to follow up but Nino holds on until the bell. Close round for Vito.
Round 12- Another visit and another tirade but Brown stops the bleeding and Vito is out there swinging. Nino is back to jabbing and moving and Vito is having a hard time finding him. Vito finally gets inside and roughs up Nino who promptly complains to the referee. Vito gets a warning for butting but continues to march in. Nino lands a counter left hook that sends Antuofermo reeling across the ring. Nino tries to land another big shot but the bell sounds. Round for Benvenuti.
Round 13- Nino seems to have found his second wind and he’s peppering
Antuofermo. Both cuts have re-opened and Vito seems to be swinging wildly. Aquick left, right by Nino sends Vito on his hands and knees. Vito is up at five and again seems more surprised then hurt. Benvenuti is quick to follow up but Vito catches Nino with a wild right to the head followed by acrunching unintentional head butt. Nino’s right eyebrow is split wide open. The referee halts the action and asks the doctor to look at the cut. Benvenuti is livid but the doctor says that he can continue. The referee takes a point away from Vito. Within seconds the bell rings ending the round. Nino takes a 10-7 round and now has a commanding lead.
Round 14- Although both corners have closed the cuts, within the first thirty seconds both boxers are bleeding again. Vito is forcing Nino to the ropes and is landing to the body. Nino again complains to the referee about low blows but the ref lets them fight on. Now flurries toward the end of the round but it is not enough. Vito gets the round.
Round 15- The ringside doctor quickly visited both corners and decided to let them finish the fight. Nino’s corner instructed him to box and protect his lead. Vito’s corner shouted to him to knock his man out! Vito was out in a flash but Nino landed a quick jab and tied his man up. It was this way the whole round. Vito tried but was unable to mount any real offense against the clutching Benvenuti. Vito takes round on sheer
The final tally…143-139 for the winner ; Nino Benvenuti…