Gabriel Rosado will never be confused with a boxing superstar. He turns 30 next month and has lost nine fights in his career, against 22 wins. It’s fair to call him a journeyman. At best, a fringe contender.
But he’s the sort of scrapper that the hardcore fan can appreciate. Rosado is a graduate of the school of hard knocks. He’s never been protected. Frequently in his career, he’s been brought in as the opponent.
Entering his fight last weekend against Joshua Clottey, Rosado desperately needed a win to stay relevant. He hadn’t won since 2012. In the press section, one writer joked that Rosado hadn’t won a fight since MY SPACE was the most popular social media platform.
It’s not like Gabriel Rosado had been shirking it during that four-fight losing streak. Perhaps no fighter in the sport had been in tougher. In three of those bouts, Rosado had moved up in weight to face David Lemieux, Peter Quillin and Gennady Golovkin, all world champions at 160 pounds, and all very dangerous punchers. His fourth loss in that stretch was to rising star Jermell Charlo. Rosado also lost to super middleweight J’Leon Love during that stretch, though it was later turned to a No Contest when Love failed a post-fight PED test. I thought Rosado was robbed in that fight and clearly deserved the win.
In the fights with Golovkin, Quillin and Lemieux, he took serious punishment, sustaining deep cuts to both eyes. It’s gotten to the point where you expect to see blood when you see Rosado’s name on a card.
Losing hard-fought, bloody fights to bigger, more talented opponents can make you a bit of a minor folk hero in boxing, but to really stay relevant in boxing, a fighter has to win. Clottey represented a winnable fight for him, but he was clearly the underdog once more.
Clottey is hardly the fighter he was seven years ago, but the former world champion at welterweight has been in some of the bigger fights of the past decade, against opponents like Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto and Zab Judah.
Against Gabriel Rosado, he looked set to cruise, winning the first three rounds. He was landing his lead left hook repeatedly. By the middle rounds of the fight, Rosado, not surprisingly, had swelling under both of his eyes.
The big difference for Rosado coming into this fight is that he is now working with former champion Fernando Vargas. The new trainer appeared to pay off for him, as he made excellent adjustments and took control over the last seven rounds of the fight. I had him winning six of those seven and it could easily have been a clean sweep. He won by comfortable margins on all three cards.
Expect Golden Boy to put Gabriel Rosado in another big fight in 2016. There has been rumblings that he could even be in line to fight Canelo Alvarez, though that strikes me as complete over-reach. But, like all tough fringe contenders, especially from a fight-mad city like Philadelphia, he’s got a cult-like following, just had a starring roll in Creed, the biggest boxing boxing movie of recent years. Most importantly, he’s now back on the winning track.