Though most will turn their attention to the high stakes Welterweight clash between former champions Andre Berto and Shawn Porter, another match with critical consequences is taking place two divisions north at Middleweight.
No titles will be on the line when Martin Murray faces off against Gabriel Rosado, nor are there any long term implications for the winner. The war of the boxing bridesmaids is simply about one thing only: Survival.
Neither man has been able to work past the mid-tier level throughout their respective careers, often falling well short when the opportunity presented itself. Between the two, they have gone a combined 0-5-1 in world title fights and are at the stage of their careers where they are dangerously nearing doormat status.
If anybody is at that particular milestone, it has to be Rosado. The Philly fighter is tougher than a two-dollar steak, but all his toughness has done for him is ensure he’s been bloodied and beaten past the point of no return. In his last appearance, Rosado looked like a shot fighter as he was slapped around the ring in a putrid fight with Willie Monroe Jr and openly contemplated retiring before taking the fight with Murray.
Well-schooled, but defensively challenged, Rosado can be crafty if he can get his opponent to respect his power, but that’s usually hard to do as he also cuts easily and leaves himself open for punishment to establish said offense. His own heart is both his biggest strength and achillies heel, but he’s not going up against a big puncher or a tactical operator in Murray.
After a campaign at Middleweight that saw him lucky to get a draw against Felix Sturm, losing a decision to a one-handed and one-legged Sergio Martinez and getting battered by Gennady Golovkin, Murray moved up to 168 and coughed up winnable fights against Arthur Abraham and George Groves. Murray is similarly tough, but can’t pace himself properly and has squandered opportunities by not finishing strong enough.
Both fighters are pretty much in the same boat as the other, but it is going to be more about whether or not Rosado can stick to a game plan that doesn’t involve his face getting blown up and Murray not expending all of his energy before the eighth round. Rosado has the edge in hand speed and power, but will probably squander that by drawing Murray on the inside to try and sap his strength with body shots.
This fight really is going to come down to who has the most left, and while Rosado would be a good pick, the writing has been on the wall for him for a long time. Murray should make weight just fine and find enough success early on to goad Rosado into abandoning his strategy and try to fight his way to a decision. It will be a slow, ugly fight that should be won by Murray, but not leaving us wanting to see anything more from either man.