NEW YORK — Philadelphia-based junior middleweight contender Gabriel Rosado is planning to upset Kazakhstan-born WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin when they meet on Jan. 19 at Madison Square Garden, and he credits mentoring from former undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins for boosting his confidence.
Rosado (21-5, 13 knockouts) has won seven straight during a run that has included five knockouts heading into his bout with the hammer-fisted Golovkin (24-0, 21 KOs), who will be after his 12th consecutive stoppage victory in a bout that will be contested at a catchweight of 158 pounds.
Promoted by Top Rank as well as the K2 and Russell Peltz promotional companies, Golovkin-Rosado is part of an HBO-televised tripleheader whose main event features unbeaten featherweight contender Mikey Garcia and Mexican WBO beltholder Orlando Salido.
Golovkin, 30, is coming off a fifth-round knockout of Grzegorz Proksa in September, and will be making the sixth defense of his belt against Rosado, with whom he shares a common opponent in former beltholder Kassim Ouma.
Rosado, who is of Puerto Rican decent, defeated Ouma by split-decision in April of 2009, and Golovkin stopped him in the 10th round in June of last year.
The 26-year-old Rosado claims not to be the underdog he may be perceived as, having won scored three consecutive stoppage wins.
In September, Rosado scored four knockdowns in a 10th-round stoppage of Charles Whittaker, ending the 38-year-old fighter’s 14-fight winning streak that had included eight stoppages. Rosado also stopped Jesus Soto Karrass and Sechew Powell in the fifth and ninth rounds, respectively.
In order to challenge Golovkin, Rosado passed up an opportunity to face 154-pound IBF beltholder Cornelius “K9″ Bundrage as the organization’s mandatory challenger, a status that would not become a reality until March of next year.
Rosado said he is a long way from the fighter who lost by majority decision to Derek Ennis in 2010, and who was stopped in the second round by Alfredo Angulo and fell by unanimous decision to Fernando Guerrero.
Rosado shared his thoughts about his relationship with Hopkins and the upcoming clash with Golovkin in this Q&A.
RingTV.com: I understand that you are upset that you are not in THE RING magazine rankings?
Gabriel Rosado: I was at the train stop, and I was going to get a magazine to get my read on. So I saw a copy of THE RING Magazine, and I’m liking it.
I’m going through the pictures. But I went into the rankings, and I saw that my name wasn’t in the rankings. So I said, “Damn this magazine,” and I put it back.
I said, “My name’s not in the rankings, so I’m not with it.” But I will be in the rankings soon. After this fight, I will be.
RingTV.com: I understand that you have spent a lot of time with Bernard Hopkins?
GR: Yeah. Basically, he’s been a big mentor, man, to me and to my career. I’ve been basically a part of his training camp since when he fought [Joe] Calzaghe, Kelly Pavlik, Jean Pascal and even Chad Dawson.
So it’s been about five training camps that I’ve been there with him. Bernard, you know, he has taught me something every day that I’ve been there.
RingTV.com: What are some of those lessons and the advice that has been passed on?
GR: I was talking to him about how big this fight was to me, and he just told me to go out and to take care of business. The thing is, with Bernard, I’ve learned a lot about the mental aspect of the game.
Like, you just pick up on it. The other guys that have sparred with him, I’m not sure they realize what is in front of them. Not me.
I wasn’t just going in there to hit the bags. When he was still sparring, and whenever he was doing something, I was just watching and taking it all in.
I would ask him questions, like, “Yo, why do you do this, and this, and that?” And he tells me, and then, he tells me, and I’m like, “Oh, S–t, this is what this does?”
RingTV.com: What can we expect from you as the perceived underdog heading into the Golovkin fight?
GR: I’m just excited about this opportunity. This is what I work hard for, to be a world champion. I had a tough road in the beginning part of my career.
But like I’ve always said, when you go though tough times, it’s either going to make you or break you. It just made me become a tougher fighter. It made me learn, and it made me work on my craft.
I’m a much more disciplined fighter. I’m totally dedicated to the sport and the craft. I don’t just train to be physically strong, I train my mind and I educate myself to the sport and study film and things like that.
RingTV.com: Can you address the fact that you gave up a shot at Bundrage to take on what appears to be a much more difficult challenge in Golovkin?
GR: I’m the No. 1 guy at 154 and could have fought K9. I could have just waited for my title shot. But I like taking chances.
I dare to be great, and Golovkin, a lot of guys don’t want to fight this guy. But I wanted to put myself in this situation because I feel that I perform at my best.
I’m just excited to shock the world, but I’m not going to shock myself. But I know that a lot of people are going to be surprised when I come out victorious in this fight, and I’m looking forward to that.
Obviously, it’s no secret that Golovkin packs a big punch, but my defense is better than people think. If I get hit flush with shots, I know how to brush shots off where they’ll glance off.
I’m really not going to concentrate on that, I’m just going to approach the fight with the attitude of being victorious and doing whatever it takes to win.
Photo by Will Hart
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com