Most times boxing matches consist of two fighters on diametrically opposed career paths. One, like J'Leon Love, is clearly on the rise while the other, Gabriel Rosado, has already felt the sting of defeat multiple times. Many fights featuring this dynamic are rightly seen as stepping-stone mismatches in favor of the prospect but Love-Rosado has a different flair, for Love has proved himself a fine but flawed jewel while Rosado -- just 105 days removed from a brutal KO loss to WBA middleweight king Gennady Golovkin -- is a prime example of Philadelphia Fighter toughness. Anytime a "Philly Fighter" is inside the squared circle, action -- and the possibility of an upset -- is virtually guaranteed.
Each man's CompuBox history tells stories that may affect the course of Saturday night's fight. They include:
Stepping Up: During the "Godzilla" phase of Love's career, his combination of power and accuracy dominated the proceedings. In beating Ibaheim King (KO 3), Love landed 49% of his power shots while piling up connect advantages of 46-15 (total) and 39-8 (power) while against all-heart journeyman Tyrone Selders (KO 6) he landed 51% overall, 43% jabs and 56% power and led 190-84 (total), 62-17 (jabs) and 128-67 (power).
But in his most recent fight against journeyman Derrick Findley, chinks were exposed in Love's armor. He seemed discombobulated by Findley's aggression and excellent chin and he suffered a ninth round cut from an accidental butt. However, Love punched enough (44.3 per round to 37.3 for Findley) and landed enough (148-113 total, 48-10 jabs but trailed 103-100 in power connects) to earn a near-shutout win that was closer than the judges' scoring. That's because Findley landed his share of licks, for while he absorbed 33% of Love's total punches and 40% of his power punches he landed 30% overall and 37% of his hooks, crosses and uppercuts.
Perhaps his struggles against Findley were foreshadowed by his troubles against Ramon Valenzuela, who used similar rough-house tactics to rattle Love's cage. In that fight Love landed just 19% overall, 16% jabs and 23% power and was out-landed 105-57 (total) and 96-31 (power). Only Valenzuela's overzealousness prevented him from a potential win, for he was assessed a point penalty for lifting Love's leg in a clinch before being disqualified for the same infraction in round eight. Until then, Valenzuela dictated the action as he threw 283 power punches to Love's 137.
That's good news for Rosado because if he does any one thing well, it's bringing the fight to his opponent and forcing him to choke under his pressure.
Eat My Dust: In stopping fellow volume-puncher Jesus Soto Karass, Rosado averaged 92.3 punches per round (the junior middleweight average is 58.7), landed 44% of his total punches, 53% of his power shots, and amassed connect gaps of 189-92 (total), 27-18 (jabs) and 162-74 (power) en route to a fifth-round TKO. When Rosado gets into his rhythm he's hard to stop and because of that Love may be forced to fight fire with fire. When Ayi Bruce tried to weather Rosado's storm it did nothing to slow down the Philadelphian. There, Rosado averaged 98.4 punches per round and out-landed Bruce 125-35 (total) and 98-22 (power) before scoring a fifth round TKO.
Much of Rosado's offense is fueled by hooks, crosses and uppercuts: They comprised 74% of his punches against Powell, 71% against Karass, 68.9% against Charles Whittaker and 59% against Collins. But when he stepped up against Golovkin, everything changed.
He Blinded Him With Science: For all of Golovkin's sock, he has plenty of skill to go with it. Golovkin's prolific (36.1 per round) and accurate (38%) jabs landed at more than double the 5.6 middleweight average (13.7) and it led to pinpoint precision in the rest of his game (42% overall, 47% power) as well as big connect gaps (208-76 total, 96-24 jabs, 112-52 power) before Rosado's corner threw in the towel in round seven.
As much as Love would like to brawl with Rosado, he would be better off boxing him. The 38-year-old Charles Whittaker's wily ways troubled Rosado for long stretches and successfully limited Rosado to 49 punches per round. Sechew Powell, another skillful boxer, held Rosado to 59.1 per round. In other words, if you give Rosado something to think about, he'll spend his time thinking about it instead of punching. And in boxing -- to paraphrase Martha Stewart -- that's a good thing.
Prediction: Give Rosado credit: It takes a hearty soul to return to the ring just 105 days after taking a horrific beating from Gennady Golovkin. But has Rosado's valor gotten the best of his judgment? Normally, one would say yes but because Love showed vulnerabilities against a journeyman like Findley one can say he'll show even more against a much better fighter in Rosado, even a recently damaged Rosado.
This will be a hard fight for both men because Rosado knows how to act when he's cast in the role of "opponent." Because this fight is being held at middleweight, Rosado's strength won't be as big a factor and though Love is not yet a finished product he'll have enough size and power to win by decision.