"King" Gabriel Rosado: Blue-Collar Story, Hungry for Glory

"King" Gabriel Rosado: Blue-Collar Story, Hungry for Glory
By Gabriel Montoya, MaxBoxing (Jan 15, 2013) Special to Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Kinggabrosado.com)

(Photo © Kinggabrosado.com)
Nothing sticks in the mind like a knockout. Felix Trinidad shoulder bumping William Joppy and then knocking him out in the fifth at the Garden. Sugar Ray Robinson dropping Gene Fullmer with that hook in the fifth. Lennox Lewis-Hasim Rahman II. Mike Tyson in any of his wins. Knockout artists are what boxing fans truly crave if they are at all honest with themselves. But in between the highlights are the grinders, the men who came up in the hardest of ways to keep this “dying sport” alive in the clubs and the smaller venues out east. Men like 27-year-old Gabriel Rosado.
A classic Philadelphia fighter’s fighter, Rosado, 21-5 (13), has learned his craft the hardest way one can. He turned pro at 18 with just 11 amateur fights and 12 fights later, Rosado was matched with the likes of Fernando Guerrero, who competed on a national level as an amateur and is currently poised to challenge for a WBO middleweight title. That was Rosado’s third decision loss.
Two fights later, following a quality win over Kassim Ouma in early 2009, Rosado faced former Olympian Alfredo Angulo and was stopped in two rounds.
But fighters aren’t defined by wins. It’s the losses that show character.
Rosado rebounded with two wins before dropping a disputed decision to Derek Ennis in July of 2010. Since then, Rosado has gone 7-0 (5) against increasingly rough opposition. Last June, he stopped Sechew Powell in nine rounds to capture a top ranking and mandatory position in the WBO junior middleweight rankings. But rather than wait for his title shot at 154, the old-school Rosado decided instead to take a greater challenge and vie for WBA middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin’s title.
“By me going up in weight to fight ‘GGG’ cost me my ranking. I knew that going in. But I felt that it’s a better challenge and it’s the type of fight where I could make a statement,” Rosado told leaveitintheringradio.com in an interview conducted three weeks out from the fight by me and co-host David Duenez.
Golovkin, 30 years of age with a record of 24-0 (21), might be the puncher boxing has been looking for. His positive demeanor and powerful hands are a franchise K2 Promotions hopes to build, starting this Saturday on HBO at Madison Square Garden in New York City. But Golovkin is a franchise in the making. The risk is there but the reward with the casual fan may not be. And so Golovkin’s team has offered to fight anyone from 154-168, even going so far as to offer catchweight opportunities. Rosado wanted no part of that. If he was going to fight for the middleweight title, he was only going to do it one way.
“I never wanted a catchweight. The fight is for the middleweight title and [the limit] is 160,” said Rosado. “I just wanted to honor the weight class. Me and my trainer just agreed on that. We never wanted the catchweight.”
Even though he is moving up in weight, Rosado is the taller man at 6’ to Golovkin’s 5’10”, which seems taller in person.
“Honestly, I am probably the biggest junior middleweight in the division right now,” said Rosado. “I am strong and I think the extra pounds are going to make me a bigger puncher as well. Everything is going well. Training camp is going well. Sparring is perfect. Right now [three weeks out from the fight], I am 169 solid. I have just a few pounds to lose.”
Golovkin, 30 (with a long amateur pedigree that includes a 2004 Olympic silver medal), is fresh off a September 2012 beating of Grzegorz Proksa in five rounds. Golovkin may be short on pro fights but he has been doing this for a very long time and is likely hitting his peak. Rosado understands this and factors it into his assessment of Golovkin.
“I think he’s a basic guy. I think he’s solid. I think his biggest asset is he packs a good punch,” surmised Rosado. “I definitely see myself as being a lot faster than he is. I think the biggest difference in the fight is the ability to adjust. With ‘GGG,’ I think what you see if what you get. He is going to try and come forward and land that big punch. I can counter. I can box. I can bang. I can resort to a lot of different styles. He just relies on that one thing which is applying pressure. I don’t think it’s going to be an easy fight because he is a strong guy and he is the middleweight champion. He is definitely going to come in but I feel extremely confident that at the end of the night, I will be victorious.”
Golovkin might be guilty of having slow feet but his intelligence and one-punch knockout power coupled with patience and precision make him arguably the division’s most deadly titleholder. Rosado further explained the need for versatility with Golovkin.
“Maybe the jab is not working. Maybe he will take the jab away. I will do something else. If pressure is not working, I can box. I can resort to different things,” he explained. “With ‘GGG,’ I think he is one-dimensional. He can do one thing. It’s a really good dimension though. He’s a solid guy. He can apply pressure and he packs a punch but I can do the same thing. I’ve done that before. I’ve applied pressure to guys and broke them down and knocked them out.  Did with [Jesus] Soto Karass, Sechew Powell and Charles Whittaker. I can break guys down. I can do more than one thing to get a win in the fight. He’s going to have to go to the ropes to win this fight and so will I. No one is going to back down. No one is afraid of each other in this fight. I think it’s going to be a matter of who is the smarter man and who makes the adjustments and that’s going to be me.”
Rosado understands his role in this fight. He is there at the Garden to be fed to a lion. But he has a bit of Maximus in him. This is one gladiator who intends to silence the critics and incite the crowd. No one rolled out the red carpet for the man nicknamed “King.” He’s had to crown himself the hardest way possible.
“It motivates me because I put myself into his fight because I want to do what people think I can’t do. I want to prove people wrong. That motivates me, the challenge,” said Rosado. “So I am definitely confident I will beat this guy. I know a lot of people are caught up in the excitement of ‘GGG’ and whatnot. As I a fighter, I understand what it is. I see flaws. I see things that I can capitalize on. Fans look at one thing; fans look at power and they get caught up in that. I come from an old-school background. My trainer is old-school and we work on our craft. We work on rolling shots. We work on countering. We educate ourselves. We don’t just go to the gym. We study film. We educate ourselves on fighting on the outside, fighting on the inside. It’s why I turned my career around. I am a student of the game. I definitely respect the sport and I work on my craft. So at the end of the day, I am going to display that on January 19. People will definitely believe in me after that.”
Rosado has been on a hot streak of late with wins over Jesus Soto Karass (TKO5), Sechew Powell (TKO 9) and Charles Whittaker (TKO 10) in 2012. Rosado could be a more well-oiled machine right now but there has been another change. For the past two fights, fighting has been Rosado’s full-time job for the first time.
“It was a just lot of things. I wasn’t a fighter that came up with a silver spoon. I was a fighter that started late in the sport. At the age of 18, I only had 11 amateur fights. I went pro at 19. I turned 20 the next day. I was pretty much learning on the job against top-notch professionals like Alfredo Angulo and Fernando Guerrero,” said Rosado. “At the same time I was fighting these guys, I was working a job. I have a family, so I was working 10-hour shifts. Getting out of work with no energy and then going to train for a 10, 12-round fight, which is crazy. That’s the type of road that I had in my career. At this point in my career, I have been blessed with fights where I get paid enough where I don’t have to work. I can just train 24/7 and dedicate myself to the sport. I take full advantage of that.
“Fighting Soto Karass, that was the late fight where I had to work a job,” he continued. “So training for Soto Karass, I was actually working a graveyard shift. I did six weeks of training camp working at Home Depot doing the graveyard shift. My boss let me take off the last two weeks of training camp so that was good. Get out of work at six in the morning to run four miles. Then sleep four or five hours, then go to the gym and spar. Then get no rest and go straight to work after the gym.”
“King” Gabriel Rosado is not far removed from working a graveyard shift and training for fights. His hunger is still fresh in his belly. It’s that very hunger that that drives him and every fighter forward. Saturday night might be the beginning of a franchise or it could be one man making the most of the chance his hard work has yielded.
Boxing at its most pure.
“Fighting at the world-class level is difficult. Boxing training alone is tough. Then when you throw a job into it, it’s difficult,” smiled Rosado, “but that’s the road I had and I wouldn’t change a thing because it’s made me the type of fighter I am. It’s made me hungry and it’s made me appreciate training 24/7 and being dedicated to the sport.”

You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him every Monday on “The Next Round” with Steve Kim. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 p.m., PST.
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