Last week, the death of an ex-boxer from Brooklyn wasn’t reported by any of the major periodicals in New York. Mitchell Rose passed away suddenly at the age of 51. For most people the name doesn’t ring a bell, until you add Butterbean to Rose.
It was on December 15, 1995 when Rose pulled off an upset by kayoing Eric “Butterbean” Esch. The bout was on the undercard of the Oscar De La Hoya/Jesse James Leija main event, at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The heavyweight Rose entered the ring with a 1-7-1 record and was a heavy underdog for the 15-0 Butterbean. It took Rose two rounds to pull off the impossible in front of a packed MSG.
Butterbean was a novelty to the boxing game. He was a soft spoken 350 pound crowd favorite. Rose said of that night, “Beating Butterbean at the Garden was my version of the Thrilla in Manila.” His 15 minutes of fame was just that. Rose’s final boxing career numbers were 2 wins, 11 losses and 1 draw.
A hustler till the end, Rose, who’s payday for the Butterbean upset was $1500, was usually seen outside of the Garden during boxing events selling his own created t-shirts depicting his image with the words, “The Real King of the Four Round Champion.” Whenever I saw him, I would try to bargain with him for a discount if I bought more than one. Rose was very personable and Brooklyn all the way.
A street fight with the notorious Mike Tyson made Rose the second Mitch to engage in a street tango, joining fellow boxer Mitch Green. That Brooklyn brawl led to an autobiography entitled, “Mike Tyson Tried to Kill My Daddy.” The book was also hustled by Rose outside of boxing venues.
For that one night at the Mecca of Boxing, Rose was on top of the world. He became a legendary figure of the concrete jungle. May he Rest in Peace for eternity.