On Thursday, a showdown between Willie Monroe Jr. and Gabriel Rosado was added to the September 17 pay-per-view card between Saul Alvarez and Liam Smith. Both men are former world title challengers, looking to get on another run to a big fight.
This is a great matchup. Monroe and Rosado are both battle-tested veterans. Rosado sports a record of 23-9 with 13 KOs, which might lead some casual fans to dismiss him. But hardcore fans know exactly who Rosado is and hold him in high regard.
Rosado turned professional after just 11 amateur fights and learned his craft on the job, in the tough Philadelphia club scene. He stumbled a couple of times early, but steadily turned himself into a respectable professional. In 2009 he fought five times, losing to rising talents Fernando Guerrero (UD 8) and Alfredo Angulo (TKO 2) while collecting his first major victories, both by split decision, over fringe contenders Kassim Ouma and Saul Roman.
Rosado really hit his stride in 2012, recording back-to-back TKO victories over Jesus Soto Karass and Sechew Powell. Since then, he’s gone just 3-5, with a no decision, but he’s faced some of the best fighters in the world during that time.
Monroe was a decorated amateur and was viewed as a blue-chip prospect when he turned professional. Yet he finds himself in a similar position to Rosado at this point: respected, but on the outside of the title picture. Monroe’s best years as a pro came in 2014 and 2015. In 2014 he cruised through the ESPN Boxcino tournament, notching one-sided victories over solid opponents in Donatas Bondorovas, Vitaliy Kopylenko and Brandon Adams. In January 2015, he turned in the best performance of his career, thoroughly out-classing tough veteran Bryan Vera.
That set up a shot at Gennady Golovkin, the common opponent he shares with Rosado. Golovkin crushed both men. But GGG has been crushing everybody he faces for years now. So that fact does not provide much insight into this matchup, one way or another.
I am inclined to pick Monroe, the better technical boxer. But Rosado has a high ring IQ and knows how to apply pressure. He has also been in with much harder punchers than Monroe.