PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Somehow through the bloody shroud that covered his face Saturday night, Gabriel Rosado fought back every time powerful WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin connected with his damaging hands.
Golovkin kept pounding in Tyson-esque fashion at the courageous Puerto Rican from Philadelphia, and each time, Rosado kept taking it and was willing to keep coming.
Finally, Rosado’s trainer, Billy Briscoe, saw enough and threw in the towel stopping the fight at 2:46 of the seventh round.
Golovkin retained his title in the HBO-televised bout at Madison Sqaure Garden’s Theater, but Rosado’s stature may have been bolstered higher than the highly regarded Kazakhstan native in the aftermath of the fight.
Afterward, no one questioned Rosado’s heart, desire and potential impact he can have at junior middleweight, his natural weight class.
In the first, exclusive interview since his daring performance, Rosado, who needed 13 stitches to close his cuts, spoke to RingTV.com about the Golovkin fight, the two cuts over his left eye in the that spouted a scarlet river during the bout, and where his future lies.
RingTV.com: How do you think you helped yourself against Golovkin on Saturday?
Gabriel Rosado: At the end of the day, I fought a tough fight and I think the fans appreciated that I fought with two cuts over my left eye, my lead eye, and it took 13 stitches to close. I gave fans a good fight and I believe I do have more fans after Saturday night.
I’m disappointed I didn’t win the fight, but fans will want to see me again. I stood up against the toughest guy at 160 [pounds] and I’m definitely going to back down to 154. If it was up to me, I wanted to keep fighting him. It was difficult to see, and the game plan was to box and the second half of the fight was to apply pressure. Unfortunately, the cuts interfered with the plan. I couldn’t see him.
I watched a tape of the fight Monday night. But before that, my sister showed me parts of the fight on her phone. I caught the part with my dad and Billy after the sixth round. I used to tell my father to never, ever stop a tough fight that I’m in. I told Billy I would fire him if I was in a tough fight and he stopped it. Billy was protecting me from myself. Billy is definitely family. He knew I would have just kept fighting.
After, Billy was crying in the locker room and I told him that it was okay, and I was consoling him. I told him not to worry about it and I’ll be back stronger than ever. I told him we’re okay. All he cared about was that I was okay. That would have gotten dangerous for me if that fight continued. The blood made it look worse than what it was. But my face wasn’t so damaged. I just couldn’t see Golovkin. I was getting hit inside with short shots and Billy knew I couldn’t see the short shots. He had to stop it. He did the right thing.
RTV: How did the cuts occur?
GR: It was an exchange and he caught me with a shot and I got cut. I was fighting through it. It was really blocking my vision. My trainer, Billy Briscoe, made the right call and he cares about me. He called the fight when it was time to. We’re close; he’s a great trainer, because I was going to keep going. I kept telling myself in the seventh round that I had to run as much as I could and I hoped that Golovkin might get tired. But the cut was too much and my nose was pretty damaged. I couldn’t see, especially against a guy who punches so hard. But I think they’ll have me back on HBO again.
RTV: What did you think you learned about yourself?
GR: That’s a good question. I don’t know. I think I learned that it was a tough fight. I always knew I had heart and that I won’t quit. I think I learned I could take one helluva punch, and they called this guy the Mike Tyson at 160. I think that sealed the deal I have a granite chin.
RTV: What kind of feedback did you receive?
GR: I think the feedback the fans have given me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram has all been positive, and I think I gave the fans something they wanted to see. Fans don’t like quitters. HBO will see that, and I can’t see why HBO wouldn’t want me back again. NBC, I can see myself back on their air. I’m 154 [pounder] and I went up to 160 and faced a guy who is very much avoided. I think at 154, I’m a major threat, and that’s where I see myself as a world champion.
RTV: Do you have a timetable for getting back into the ring?
GR: I’m going to take a month off and let the cuts heal up and in 10 days, they’ll take the stitches out. I’m looking to get back in the ring again, most likely in June, hopefully back on TV again. I had a talk with [promoter J] Russell Peltz and he’s been getting a lot of feedback, too. We’re going to rest up and see what’s best. There are no concrete decisions right now.
RTV: Does Golovkin punch that hard?
GR: He’s a great puncher. I went into that fight thinking he’s going to have to kill me to beat me. It was definitely war. I had that mentality I was going to go all out. He had to kill me to beat me. I thought if it wasn’t for the cut, that I could have fought my fight. Golovkin is a good puncher, but I wasn’t going to go anywhere. I don’t think he’s overrated. There’s no one at 160 that’s going to beat that guy. Golovkin is as good as they say he is. I gave him trouble. I just don’t think I’m a legit 160 pounder right now. I belong at 154.
RTV: What did Golovkin say to you afterwards?
GR: He told me I was a great fighter and he invited me to his gym. His trainer told me at 154 that I will be a champion and I’d definitely beat (Cornelius) K9 Bundrage. He gave me credit.
RTV: Did it bother you that it was broached that Golovkin was sick before the fight?
GR: It did. That was kind of disrespectful towards me, I thought. That wasn’t called for. The guy won the fight. It was kind of lame for [HBO commentator] Max Kellerman to bring that up. It was like they were looking for excuses for Golovkin. I didn’t like that. Max is kind of funny like that sometimes and Max did give me my respect, but he didn’t give me enough respect at the end of the day. I thought Max would give me an interview at the end of the fight, and when he didn’t, I thought that kind of lame on Max’s part. Every time after a fight Larry Merchant always interviewed both fighters. Max has to understand us fighters. We put ourselves on the line and he should have shown me more respect than he did. Max, Golovkin’s team, they all thought I was going to get wiped out. Look at his face, he had bumps and bruises and they thought it was going to be an easier fight than I gave him. That was the problem. The funny thing is, Golovkin gave me respect. What else is funny is that Golovkin spoke to someone on the phone, after the fight, and he said he wasn’t sick when HBO followed him back to his locker room. Whoever the person was on the other end [Golovkin’s mother], [he] told them that he wasn’t that sick.
RTV: Do you think of yourself as a world-class fighter now?
GR: I think a lot of the feedback I’m getting, people want to see me at 154 and I am a world-class fighter. I only came in at 164 for Golovkin, and I’m pretty sure he was bigger the day of the fight. More people are looking to see me fight at 154 again and beat the elite fighters in that weight class. The Golovkin fight puts me on that elite level.
Austin Trout can’t get a fight at 154, and a lot of guys that he wants, they’re ducking him and can’t get him. Trout has called me out in the past, and at 154, you have hungry guys like Alfred Angulo and Trout in the future. I can see myself fighting Angulo or someone like Canelo Alvarez. I would love that fight. After the Golovkin fight, there are fights I can definitely get at 154. I just need to rest up and heal, then see what’s the next fight. I want to get right back in the ring and fight a world-class fighter at 154. I feel I’ve earned the right after Saturday night. I made a name for myself. I definitely deserve an elite fighter at 154.
I’ll take four weeks off and start training in March, and maybe get in the ring again by June. What stands out most for me, though, is I always knew there were fans out there. But they didn’t realize that I had that much heart and that much courage. It made the Golovkin loss a lot easier for me. Fans from all over have shown me so much love and support, and that I’m warrior, and when fans talk to you like that, it makes you feel a lot better. I’m not so down on myself.
Photos / Naoki Fukuda