Philly Jr. Middleweight Gabe Rosado believes his time is coming to be the face of Philadelphia boxing
By Gary Purfield
Junior Middleweight Gabriel Rosado 18-5 (10 KO) will never be accused of being a pampered fighter. He didn’t turn pro with a big press conference and headlines. He was not matched carefully early to be brought along as a top prospect. Rosado took the hard road to make a name for himself and improve his abilities inside the ring by being matched tough early and often.
What this brought Rosado was a blemished record (by today’s boxing standards) that made his fight in this Saturday’s televised co-feature on NBC Sports, that much more difficult to obtain. But this also brought Rosado an unintended reward along the way. He just may be in line to become a fan favorite and the face of Philadelphia boxing in the coming year if he continues his winning ways.
“King” Gabriel Rosado hails from North Philadelphia and knows as well as anyone that it takes more than a title belt and pretty record to win over Philly fans. They like the underdog. The blue collar nature of the people of Philadelphia appreciate the fighter like Rosado, who had to battle adversity to earn his chance in the spotlight. While undefeated contenders Mike Jones and Danny Garcia who both have title fights on the horizon (Garcia takes on Morales for a 140 lb. title and Jones is slated to face Randall Bailey for a vacant 147 lb. title) are the obvious picks to take over the spotlight when Bernard Hopkins retires, Rosado has the back story to be the crowd favorite.
“I think when it’s all said and done I’m going to be the face of boxing in Philadelphia. I come from the bottom; this is a grind for me. I didn’t get it easy. I went through adversity early in my career. I went into tough fights early and I think the way I’ve been coming along the fans like that.”
Philly is a city that overwhelmingly embraces the underdogs and overachievers. They love the guys who muck and grind to the top. The rough and tough blue collar players on the Broad Street Bullies Flyers teams are still heroes in the city wherever they go more than thirty five years after they won the Stanley Cup.
The 2001 Sixers made it the finals with Iverson and a rag tag bunch of grinders and overachievers. They came up short to a superior Lakers team, but anyone who was in the building for that season and playoff run knew the end was not the point. The point was that the city had their type of team that gave effort above their skill level every night. Never say die warriors that had paid their dues and now were rising above expectations. Sure, it’s nice to have the favorite but in this city the underdog will always be a little more special.
“They like the underdog, they root for the underdog and I’m the underdog. I’m all about the fans, I’m all about giving the fans entertaining fights and I think when it’s all said and done Philadelphia’s going to really back me up.”
In that vein, Rosado has an opportunity to be embraced in one of the old fashion fight towns, in a way no top prospect who had the well-matched road to the top can have. Rosado had to do it the hard way.
Rosado lost the undefeated record in his sixth fight against an opponent Chris Gray (3-2 at the time) he should have beat. Two fights later he lost again–to Joshua Onyango, who was 12-13 at the time. While Onyango had a pedestrian record, he is strong and was far more experienced. Undeterred, Rosado began what would be a trend of improving his skills to get better. He won his next fight and then avenged the previous loss by knocking Onyango out in three rounds.
Rosado played the underdog against undefeated James Moore (15-0 at the time) in Moore’s home area of NewYork City. It was expected that Moore would outbox Rosado. Instead, the visiting Rosado floored Moore in the fifth and won a unanimous decision. After two more wins, Rosado took on Fernando Guerrero who, at the time was a hot undefeated prospect. The fight was in Guerrero’s backyard in Salisbury, MD. Rosado dropped Guerrero in the third, but lost the decision down the stretch.
Once again bouncing back, Rosado went back to work improving his skills. He and longtime trainer, Billy Briscoe went to the drawing board and began crafting a boxer to go with his natural strength and toughness. One fight after the Guerrero loss he upset former World Champion Kassim Ouma. This was parlayed into an opportunity on ESPN FNF against feared puncher Alfredo Angulo, but Rosado was blown out in two rounds.
Since the Angulo fight, Rosado is a different fighter. His confident personality and willingness to improve by learning from his mistakes has paid dividends. He seems to have settled into his own abilities as a fighter with more skills on offense and defense. He has a true boxer-trainer relationship with Billy Briscoe and they have worked hard to constantly add more and more wrinkles to Rosado’s arsenal, especially an improved defense after the Angulo fight. Gone is the fighter who would come out of fights banged up from taking too many punches and in his place is a boxer with slick head movement that can make people miss and make them pay.
“I want to show I’m ready for the top guys at 154. We’ve grown a lot as time went along. I’m a fighter that works on my craft. I’ve been in five training camps with Bernard Hopkins and I’ve stole a lot of things from Bernard. I know what it takes.”
Since the Angulo loss, Rosado is 6-1, with the lone loss coming in a tight affair with Philadelphia counterpart Derek Ennis in a fight Rosado seemed to give away by not pressing the action enough. Wins in that time include a knockout over Latif Mundy, who was a well-regarded prospect at the time, a win over the experienced Saul Roman, and a dominating knockout of Ayi Bruce.
Now, Rosado finds himself with a big opportunity to shine on a big stage. With Main Events Promotions staging their inaugural NBC Sports card in Rosado’s hometown and Philadelphia Promoter Russell Peltz (who promotes Rosado) being the matchmaker, Rosado takes on veteran bad ass Jesus Soto-Karass 24-6-3 (16 KO) in the ten round co-feature.
Rosado is well aware he has to do more than just win. With a record that does not blow fans away, he needs to be impressive to create a demand to see him fight again.
“I know the importance of this fight. I don’t want to go into this fight and just win. I know that we have to make a statement. I think if we dominate Soto-Karass, back him up, put the pressure on him, get a stoppage, which is what I’m looking for, I feel that’s going to create a big buzz. A lot of people are going to be impressed with me and that’s what I want.”
At the very least, Rosado needs to be dominant and exciting. Soto-Karass is coming up in weight and is considered someone you should beat if you are going to be a title challenger. But Soto-Karass has never been stopped so ending things before the final bell would certainly make a statement.
“I think if I give him a beat down, let’s say it goes to ten, let’s say he make the distance but I without a doubt outclass this guy I’m sure that will make a statement as well but I want to stop him.
“We’re the bigger guy, he’s coming up in weight. I’m not gonna let a welterweight bully me around, not going to happen. I don’t think he’s stronger than me and he’s definitely not bigger than me so I don’t see him backing me up. We’re gonna bring it to him.
“I really think that we’re gonna stop this guy. The type of pressure we’re going to apply and the way we’re going to go to the body, I’ll really be surprised if this guy goes the whole ten rounds.”
Almost every step of the way Rosado has taken the hard road in his career. He takes the road less traveled in today’s boxing world. Willing to fight anyone, anywhere, anytime, he has taken his lumps but is better off for it in the ring. He has developed and matured into a more experienced and more skilled fighter due to his ups and downs.
Rosado enters his fight Saturday night looking to show that his record is not an indication of a fighter that has losses, but one that demonstrates he has taken the hard matches, which have made him a dangerous and experienced boxer, ready to take on the best. In the process, he has an opportunity to become the face of a city dying to regain its place as a top boxing town and to be the type of winner Philly fans embrace with open arms.
“I have a lot of people that are supporting me now. There is going to be a big turnout that day so I think when it’s all said and done, once Bernard hangs it up, I feel that I am going to be that guy.”
- Thanks to Philly Boxing History who has followed Rosado from his early fights for background information to make the story possible.
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