Hard-fought losses to talented fighters, such as Fernando Guerrero (right), have matured Gabriel Rosado (left) beyond his years. Rosado, who has won four consecutive bouts, is now on the cusp of contender status.
There are many adjectives that could be used to describe junior middleweight Gabriel Rosado. Exciting. Inconsistent. Underrated.
All of those match, but the one that best sums up the 26-year-old Philadelphian is battle-tested.
While many young prospects come out of the amateurs with promise and built-in marketability, Rosado has had to pay his dues and learn on the job following a brief amateur career of 17 fights. He has tasted defeat, been on the canvas, lost to fighters who could best be described as stepping stones and he’s been written off as “an opponent.”
Ask Rosado and he’ll tell you that all of the hardship has been to his benefit.
“If you take a guy who loses, people say that he learned how to lose. The way I see it, my losses taught me how to win,” said Rosado (18-5, 10 knockouts), who faces tough Mexican banger Jesus Soto Karass (24-6-3, 16 KOs) this Saturday at the Asylum Arena in Philadelphia.
“If I didn’t go through that adversity, I wouldn’t be the fighter I am today.”
The Rosado-Soto Karass bout will headline the inaugural Fight Night installment on NBC Sports (formerly the Versus network), moving up on the card after Eddie Chambers withdrew from his heavyweight clash with Sergei Lyakhovich with an injury.
After winning his first five bouts, Rosado lost two of three to spoilers Chris Gray and Joshua Onyango. Since then, Rosado has shown that he is a clear step above his journeyman opposition, but hasn’t shown as much consistency as he stepped up his competition.
A win against undefeated James Moore on ESPN2 was immediately followed by a loss to Fernando Guerrero on the same network. An upset of faded former champion Kassim Ouma in 2009 was proceeded by a second-round knockout loss to Alfredo Angulo later that year.
Rosado’s promoter Russell Peltz understands the road that Rosado has traveled. The International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee promoted his first match in 1969, selling out the Blue Horizon with the main event of “Bad” Bennie Briscoe against Tito Marshall. He had seen many fighters from that era begin their careers under similarly inauspicious circumstances only to become players in the sport.
“I come from an era when 18-5 was a helluva record, especially when you look at the level of opposition he has faced,” Peltz said. “There are more undefeated fighters crawling around now than since the beginning of boxing. That’s because nobody fights anybody today.”
Peltz likened Rosado’s career to a college basketball team’s schedule.
“If you’re Duke basketball or some other major team, it’s like playing Ohio State or Wake Forest, as opposed to playing Muhlenberg College or Fairleigh Dickinson,” he said. “Gabe has had a tough schedule. That’s the way a lot of fighters have to do it today, but he’s 26 and he hasn’t even reached his peak.
“The way I see it, he has a 50/50 shot to lick Soto Karrass.”
Rosado has now won four straight against mid-level opposition since losing to fellow Philadelphian Derek Ennis, and with the aggressive Soto Karass on tap next, it is expected that his fight will steal the show.
“The fans are definitely going to get their money’s worth with this one,” said Rosado, who said Soto Karass reminded him of Saul Roman, a fighter he won a split decision against in 2010. “He’s a proud Mexican. He’s going to come to fight and he’s the type of guy that doesn’t back down.”
Soto Karass, 29, journeyed on much the same path as Rosado, rising above three early losses to create a decent career of his own. Soto Karass hasn’t won in his last four fights, but has faced tough competition in the process, including two outings against undefeated top contender Mike Jones.
Rosado, who fashions himself as a pure boxer (equipped with Hector Camacho-style trunks), is expected at some point to give into his firey temperament in the ring and trade with Soto Karass, making for a memorable fight.
“If it’s toe-to-toe and I’m getting caught and he’s getting caught, if I’m bleeding and he’s bleeding, it could be a fight of the year candidate,” said Rosado.
“But my plan is to make it a one-sided fight.”
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News and the Filipino Reporter newspaper in New York City. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.