QUEENS, New York – After ten rounds of hard sparring with two different opponents, Will Rosinsky charged from the ring despondently, discouraged by how he perceived his performance.
Rosinsky (16-1, 9 knockouts) had just finished five rounds each with Marcus Browne, the light heavyweight representative the U.S. 2012 Olympic squad, and Long Island-based light heavyweight Joe Smith Jr. (10-1, 10 KOs) at the Universal Boxing Club in Ozone Park, Queens, N.Y., the neighborhood the super middleweight prospect has called home since childhood.
Both Browne and Smith are over 6-feet – much taller than the 5-foot-9 Rosinsky – but physically resembling 6-foot-2 former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik (39-2, 34 KOs), whom Rosinsky will face this Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
The bout, which will be televised live on HBO’s Boxing After Dark series, is by far the biggest fight of Rosinsky’s career, and the scrappy New Yorker has prepared accordingly.
Browne, a natural left-handed fighter, switched to orthodox for the day, negating his reach by fighting on the inside and obliging Rosinsky to work on his game plan. Browne, who was returning the favor to Rosinsky for the help Rosinsky provided prior to Browne’s involvement in the Americas Olympic Qualifying tournament in Brazil in May, spent the entire session in an orthodox stance, boxing the first three rounds, then giving way to Smith for the next, coming in fresh for two more rounds, before Smith finished the last two rounds.
Browne “worked” with Rosinsky, putting himself in situations favorable to the strategy of Rosinsky to allow him to work on strategy for his fight with Pavlik. Browne’s movement and speed is far superior to that of Pavlik, but he chose to slug it out on the inside to mimic Pavlik’s in-fighting style. Smith, a heavy-handed local fighter whose style is similar to Pavlik’s, seemed less willing to “work” in there, and more intent on proving a point in a gym session.
Moreso against Smith, Rosinsky found himself being hit with flush overhand rights, usually while pulling straight back from exchanges or along the ropes, then he did against Browne.
Rosinsky, 27, emerged shortly after from the back room where he washed his face off and changed shirts and remarked, “I always look bad in sparring.”
“The problem with Will,” began Felipe Gomez, who has trained Rosinsky since 2005, “when he spars and he don’t look that great he takes it so personal because he wants to look how he looks in the fights. And I tell him, ‘Listen, there’s gonna be days where you have a spectacular day and you’re going to look super good, but there’s times where you won’t look 100 percent so you can’t get frustrated.’”
Heading into the biggest professional fight either has been a part of, maintaining a positive outlook on the task ahead seems to be the paramount concern. The weight limit for the fight is 169 pounds, one more than Rosinsky weighed less than three weeks ago when he outboxed and outslugged Aaron Pryor Jr. in New York City, and two more than Pavlik weighed five days prior to that when he stopped Scott Sigmon in Las Vegas.
For now, Rosinsky’s main concern is formulating a winning strategy to deal with Pavlik, and Browne doesn’t feel he’s too far off.
“Will looked good, just a few things he gotta tweak,” said Browne, who lauded Rosinsky for his “inside your chest pressure, his body attack and his will to win.”
“It’s going to be a tough night for Pavlik,” continued Browne. “Pavlik better not let Will get in his chest. Because once Will gets that rhythm to stay in his chest, the rest is history.”
After conferring with Browne and Gomez, Rosinsky seemed to calm down post-workout and had taken into inventory everything that occurred.
“I always take it personally when I don’t do as good [in sparring] as I know I can or as good as I should,” said Rosinsky, a four-time New York Daily News Golden Gloves champion and 2005 U.S. National Amateur champion at 178 pounds. “It’s nothing to get down about. I’m trying new things in sparring with good guys. It’s not like I’m sitting there with bums getting caught with stupid shots. It’s a learning process. I’ll be ready for Pavlik.”
Rosinsky, who moonlights as an emergency medical technician (EMT) with the New York Fire Department’s station 39 in the East New York section of Brooklyn, has won two straight fights since his lone career defeat to Edwin Rodriguez in his ShoBox debut last October. The scoring – all three judges gave all ten rounds to Rodriguez – was controversial and did not reflect the competitive nature of the bout. Since then, Rosinsky had been pining for another opportunity to prove himself on a stage larger than New York City’s club scene.
Pavlik, who is three years older than Rosinsky at 30, is looking to rebuild his image after crushing defeats to Bernard Hopkins and Sergio Martinez – as well as a public battle with alcoholism – left some wondering if the fighter who destroyed Jermain Taylor in 2007 to win the middleweight crown still existed. Pavlik is now working with rising young trainer and former world champion Roberto Garcia in an effort to reestablish himself as a contender, this time at super middleweight.
“I think he’s a little past his prime from what he was with Jermain Taylor,” said Rosinsky. “He’s still a great fighter, I still respect him as a fighter, but I don’t think he’s the same fighter. He’s been in the pro game for 12 years, he’s been in some wars; he’s had whatever personal problems he’s had, which definitely affects your whole scheme of things.
Rosinsky’s trainer Gomez, like Rosinsky, had worked as a civil servant for New York, having recently retired as a sergeant from the NYPD. Gomez grew up in the same East New York neighborhood where Rosinsky works, and was a two-time Golden Gloves champion under legendary New York boxing figure Jimmy O’Pharrow.
He watched Pavlik’s last fight with Sigmon on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights and believes he saw ring rust that won’t be shaken off in a few weeks’ time.
“He looked good, but you could see the ring rust,” said Gomez of Pavlik’s seventh-round technical knockout win. “I actually saw the old Pavlik coming back again, which could work against us, we’ve trained so hard and Will is in great condition, he’s in tip top shape. Even though you could see the old Pavlik coming back and the one-twos, the power is still there, I wasn’t convinced 100 percent and I’m sure in two weeks he’s not going to regain that.
“Will’s hungry, he’s younger and he has something to prove right now. It’s perfect timing, it can’t be any better.”
Rosinsky says he thinks Pavlik “kept him on the hook” to make Sigmon pay for the trash talk prior to the fight, but doesn’t think the training switch will have as much impact in this fight as it would in a year’s time.
“You can work on certain things with a new guy, but when you’ve been with somebody for 20-something years and change trainers and you start getting hit, you’re going to go back to your old ways,” said Rosinsky.
Rosinsky has much to motivate him for Saturday’s opportnity. Last July, after rising from the canvas to stop Jose Ramirez moments later in the first round in Brooklyn, Rosinsky proposed to his girlfriend Jessica, who accepted. The two are scheduled to be married in October.
Rosinsky is also close to buying a home in Long Island. The deal was to be finalized in July but will have to wait until after the Pavlik fight.
A win over Pavlik would be in line with some of the big upsets that have happened in boxing recently, such as Josesito Lopez’s knockout of Victor Ortiz or Tim Bradley’s controversial points victory over Manny Pacquiao. It’s a difficult task for Rosinsky, but it wouldn’t be unheard of, especially given events of late.
“I fought some tough guys, even in the amateurs, heavy-handed guys at 178 pounds,” said Rosinsky. “I’m not saying I don’t respect his power because I have to. Nobody wants to be caught with nothing stupid. I’m going to get hit obviously, but I’m ready to do what I gotta do.”
Photo / Emily Harney-Fightwireimages.com
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News. 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