Rosado, Kovalev and Smith Win at Sands in Bethlehem
Rosado, Kovalev and Smith Win at Sands in Bethlehem
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Sept 24, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
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“King” Gabriel Rosado
The No. 3 IBF junior middleweight contender “King” Gabriel Rosado, 21-5 (13), of Philadelphia stopped the No. 2 contender Charles “Killer” Whittaker, 36-13-2 (21) at 1:50 of the 10th round in an eliminator for Cornelius “K9” Bundrages’s IBF title.  
This was the fight of the night on a card of 7 fights aired over NBC Sports Network and promoted by Main Events, Peltz Boxing and the Sands Casino.  

This was a Triple Header with local unbeaten boxer Ronald Cruz and Russian knockout artist Sergey Kovalev in separate fights.  They saved the most interesting fight of the night for last and the fans were not disappointed.  Rosado has come of age winning his seventh straight and fifth by stoppage earning a possible title fight before the year is out.  “Bundrage has 6 months to defend his title against me,” said Rosado.  Bundrage defended his title in June defeating Cory Spinks.

Whittaker entered the ring in his nineteenth year as a professional at the age of 38.  He looked “old school” and hadn’t lost a fight since 2004.  The 26 year-old Rosado made a grand entrance decked out in leopard, pink and gold colors.  This writer was sitting next to George Hanson, a fellow writer, Jamaican, and a friend of Whittaker’s from the Islands.  It was evident from the start that Whittaker would do his best to “school” the younger Rosado with a solid jab and the ability to avoid punches even with his back to the corner.  The crowd seemed to appreciate him even if the 3 judges gave him little credit.

In the first round Rosado hardly landed a punch as he used his herky jerkey motion of up and down hoping to get Whittaker on the ropes and blast away like he did in his last pair of fights stopping Sechew Powell and Jesus Soto-Karass.  “He was not easy to hit and I take nothing away from him.  I’ve paid my dues and look forward to a title fight.  My trainer Billy Briscoe and I have been together a long time and have spent many nights going over films,” said Rosado.  Briscoe an almost unknown in the game outside of Philadelphia gave credit to where credit was due.  “I learned from the great Wesley Mouzon,” said Briscoe.  Along with George Benton, Mouzon was one of two Philadelphia trainers known throughout the world.

It took until the fourth round for Rosado to start finding the mark.  In the fifth he threw a long right hand that caught Whittaker’s chin on the end of it and scored the first knockdown of the fight.  At the end of the sixth, Rosado had Whittaker against the ropes firing away with right hands.  Even though half of them missed the mark the one’s that did were taking their toll on Whittaker.  In the seventh Rosado missed with a left and followed with a right for the second knockdown in the fight.

In the eighth Whittaker made a short comeback once again putting that jab in the face of Rosado landing a couple of left hooks but not scoring with the right like he would have liked to.  “I just couldn’t seem to land my right flush,” said Whittaker.  It seemed to this writer that Whittaker would outfox his younger opponent until he got dropped.  It reminded me of the Steve Cunningham and Tomasz Adamek battle with Cunningham taking most of the rounds that he didn’t find himself on the canvas.  “Three times in the fight I stopped to think about what Rosado did and each time I found myself on the canvas,” said Whittaker.  

“In one of the middle rounds he caught me in the eye possibly with a thumb and I saw stars for the rest of the round.  I have a good poker face and didn’t let on I was hurt,” said Rosado.  In the tenth and final round Rosado fired a straight right and down went Whittaker for the third time in the fight.  Upon rising he was hit with 3 straight right hands being dropped for the fourth time in the fight as referee Steve “SS” Smoger waved it off as Whittaker hit the canvas.  “I was glad before the fight knowing Steve Smoger would be the referee.  When Steve Smoger stops a fight you know it’s over.  He gave me every chance to come back and I have no complaints about the stoppage,” said Whittaker.

Rosado had a little redness outside his left eye from all the jabs he was hit with but he was able to overcome the crafty style of Whittaker.  The judges had scores from Dave Braslow of 89-80, Pierre Benoist 90-79 and Kevin Morgan of 88-81 all for Rosado.  The punch count I was told was 160-90 for Rosado.  It was evident he threw a lot of punches but from where we were sitting in front he also missed quite a bit thanks to the defensive skills of Whittaker.  Take nothing away from Rosado, he has earned this title fight and it should be a good one.

For Whittaker, a man who even promoted his own fights at times to keep busy, it may be the end of the line.  If it were not for Rosado getting the title fight I’d love to see a rematch.  Both fighters gave the Lord all the glory immediately after the fight.  In Rosado’s dressing room Dave Price gave a prayer of thankfulness.  He is part of D & D Management along with Doc Nowicki who is an advisor for Rosado.  Promoter J Russell Peltz has brought Rosado along for the past 12 fights with only one loss, that to fellow Philadelphian Derek “Pooh” Ennis for the USBA title over 2 years ago.  Peltz did a masterful job getting Mike “MJ” Jones to the vacant welterweight shot recently but hopes this time with Rosado he will have a champion.

The Sergey Kovalev, 19-0-1 (16), of Chelyabinsk, Russia, and Lionell Thompson, 12-2 (8), of Buffalo, NY, didn’t quite measure up as Kovalev proved to be much too strong for Thompson who was filling in.  Kovalev, minus a good jab, landed enough rights to drop Thompson twice in the third round causing referee Gary Rosato to call a halt at 0:14 of the third round.  Thompson didn’t want it stopped but he was no match for Kovalev in this 10 round light heavyweight match.  Former world champion John David Jackson was one of the corner people for Kovalev as he was in the previous fight of the night for Antwone “The Truth” Smith.

Speaking of Smith, 22-4-1 (12), he may have lost two of his last three fights but at 25 he still has plenty left in the tank.  Against the local favorite Cruz, 17-1 (12), he showed a sharp jab right from the beginning.  Cruz who can be a slow starter before overcoming his past opponents has an enormous amount of determination but allowed Smith to take the first 3 rounds and just couldn’t quite catch up to him on two of the three judges score cards.  

It was Smith, not Cruz going to the body at the start.  Cruz being known for his body work seemed desperate at times trying to land punches until the fourth when he hurt Smith midway through the round and again just prior to the bell.  He repeated hurting Smith in the fifth round.  By the sixth Cruz had some blood coming from his mouth from all the jabs he had taken.  He wasn’t slipping enough punches in trying to land an overhand right that when landing, hurt Smith.  

Cruz seemed to be wearing down Smith in the eighth.  Smith came in at 153 and lost 3 pounds but was still 3 over the contracted 147 that Cruz came in at.  In the ninth Smith rocked Cruz with a 5 punch combination near the end of the round.  In the tenth and final round both fighters let it all hang out as referee Rosato had to separate them at the bell.  The local fans were very vocal for Cruz and awaited the decision.  Dave Greer had it 96-94 for Smith.  Hill had it 96-94 for Cruz.  Braslow had it 96-94 for the winner by split decision Antwone Smith.  DHB also had it 96-94 for Smith.  

“I lost the first 3 rounds but thought I did enough to earn a draw,” said Cruz.  He was obviously disappointed losing for the first time.  “I would like a rematch as soon as possible,” said Cruz.  Absent for the first time was cut-man Jim Williams from the Cruz corner.  Trainer Indio Rodriguez made that decision.  Mike Jones did the same a couple of fights before losing for the first time.  Williams is more than a good luck charm and cut-man.  

“It was a learning decision for me,” said Cruz.  When questioned by this writer if he was “overconfident” going into this fight, Cruz was quick to deny that.  He was outworked overall.  Cruz is a very likeable hard worker and proved he can fight a main event in his town and bring the fan base out!  He will be back!

Jason Sosa, 5-1-3 (1), who was coming off an 8 round draw found his 6 round bout cut to a 4 rounder at fight time.  It benefitted his opponent Esteban Rodriguez, 6-3-1 (1), who in losing the fourth and final round came close to pulling out a draw.  Sosa easily took the first round but Rodriguez came back in the second with a good body attack.  The third was close and Sosa took the fourth by being busier in this lightweight match.  Braslow had it 38-38, while Hill and Greer had it 39-37 for Sosa.  Smoger was the referee and warned Rodriguez several times for low blows.

In a heavyweight 6 rounder both Allentown’s Will “Big Stuff” Miranda, 6-5-1 (0), and Philadelphia’s Pedro Martinez, 6-7 (3), let their hand’s fly for the entire fight which is quite unusual for the big boys.  They were not ducking any but throwing punches.  The fight started off with Martinez running into a straight jab and going down more in embarrassment that anything else.  Martinez argued he tripped.  By the third round Martinez finally got started and Miranda suffered a cut outside his left eye that troubled the local favorite.  But being the warrior he is he fought through the eye cut and landed some hard chopping short rights.  He did enough on the score cards to win but neither fighter was willing to give an inch and could have fought in a phone booth if they could have fit.  All 3 judges scored it for Miranda but differently with scores by Greer 59-54, Hill 59-55 and Benoist 39-37.   DHB agreed with Greer.  Rosato was the referee.  Martinez was 30# heavier than he was in his last fight just two months ago.

Southpaw junior welterweight Jerome Rodriguez, 1-1, out of Trenton, NJ, but fighting out of near by Allentown, displayed a body attack that they could make a training film about.  He never stopped throwing punches the entire 4 rounds.  Give Kywane Hill, 1-10 (1) credit for hanging in there.  He got some licks in but never near enough to earn a round as all 3 judges and DHB had it 40-36 for Rodriguez.  He is certainly a prospect and managed by Jimmy Deoria.  Smoger was the referee.

In the opener Alex Sanchez, 2-1 (2), returned to the ring after a 4 year absence to stop Fitzgerald Johnson, 3-7 (1), of Philadelphia at 2:14 of the second round.  A right hand to the side of Johnson’s head made him take a knee.  A combination followed as Johnson hit the canvas and was counted out by referee Rosato.  Sanchez is now with D & D Management.

It was a very good crowd and a nice place to hold a show.  Peltz and Brittany Rogers did the matchmaking.  With a triple header the fans saw plenty of action.

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E-mail questions, comments to Ken Hissner

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