Gabriel Rosado feels that it’s a good thing to still be relevant, especially when one looks at his ledger. The Philadelphia-based junior middleweight has endured an arduous battle to stay germane, considering he hasn’t won a fight since September 2012.
However, the losses (seven defeats smudge his record) haven’t changed what the boxing public feels. They want to see Rosado again. So does Showtime. They like the way he keeps coming at his opponents, how he keeps pushing guys that he’s not supposed to beat.
But Rosado knows there is something deeper at stake than building fan support when he takes on undefeated 23-year-old junior middleweight contender Jermell Charlo (22-0, 11 knockouts) this Saturday in the Showtime-televised co-feature to the Lamont Peterson-Dierry Jean main event at the DC Armory in Washington, D.C.
Rosado (21-7, 13 KOs and 1 no-contest) senses that this is it for him. A loss may possibly banish him back to the shadowy, smoky world of the club fight circuit. Rosado also is very aware that Charlo has never been in with a fighter like him before, too.
He was “the opponent” against iron-fisted WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin, putting on a spirited fight before succumbing in the seventh round last January. Rosado put on another exciting, action-filled fight playing the same role against WBO middleweight beltholder Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin last October in Atlantic City. The fight was stopped due to a cut over his left eye with 40 seconds left in the 10th round.
Rosado left the ring wearing sunglasses to protect his bruised and swollen eye but he left to cheers, while Quillin received a smattering of boos.
Rosado wants to flip that scenario. He wants to be the one who leaves the ring amid raging applause after a victory, rather than the hard-luck loser that continues to go out valiantly on his shield.
“With Charlo, I’m looking for the knockout because I think that I’m forced to fight that way right now; I don’t think I can box myself to a decision,” said Rosado, who trained in Puerto Rico for the first time in his career. “It’s tough to say, but it’s my reality. I’m a good boxer and I thought that I had a good year in 2012. I was able to box guys like Jesus Soto Karass, Sechew Powell and Charles Whittaker (Rosado’s last victory). I was able to dictate the pace and do my thing.
“But with the politics of the sport, it’s something that I understand that I have to do. I know I can’t box this guy and get rounds. It’s what I have to do today. It’s something that I understand.”
Charlo has notable victories over Jose Angel Rodriguez, Demetrius Hopkins and tough Harry Joe Yorgey. Charlo has gone 12 rounds once (against Hopkins) and 10 rounds twice. “Iron Man,” however, has never faced anyone as seasoned as Rosado.
“I know that and that’s why I feel the only advantage Charlo has over me is if I beat myself; I have been battle tested; I have risen from knockdowns, I know what I’m capable of doing,” Rosado said. “Charlo doesn’t know adversity. He doesn’t understand that, and no fighter can really fully understand that before they actually go through it. Charlo will understand what he’s made of. I knew I was tough, but you have to go through it to know.”
Rosado said his test came when he fought Golovkin, known as “GGG” to his growing fan base. He was going up in weight and suffered two nasty cuts in the second round of that fight.
“The fact that I was standing up to a murderous puncher like GGG and I stood up to it says a lot,” Rosado said. “I learned that I belong among the best and that I didn’t quit. I got a lot of love and respect from that fight. When I went through that with GGG, I realized nothing could stop me. There is nothing that Charlo can do that will give me problems. I’ve done everything and gave up everything for this camp. I’m doing the things that I’m supposed to do to win this fight. I don’t even think about him. This fight is all in my hands.”
Rosado said that his weight is right where it should be for Charlo. He also said that he’ll probably be bigger than he usually is, coming in at almost 170 pounds after rehydrating following Friday’s weigh-in.
There was a great deal learned from the Quillin fight. Rosado feels he made Quillin look like an “average fighter.”
Training in Puerto Rico has given him an added understanding of his heritage. Fans have recognized him everywhere he’s gone. It’s spurred him, he admits, to feel that he is fighting for more than just himself when he climbs through the ropes against Charlo.
“This is the strongest that I’ve been going into a fight, and I think what helps is just coming off the Quillin fight in October,” Rosado said. “I was off for three weeks and the work I put in for Kid Chocolate was like a Bernard Hopkins thing – keeping myself already in shape. You will see a smarter Gabriel Rosado. I want to put everything together and make a statement that I want to fight the best at 154. Being in Puerto Rico and seeing how the fans have embraced me has been great. I have the island behind me and I think I’ve created a bigger fan base.”
Now all he needs to do is win.
Photo / Tom Casino-SHOWTIME