by David P. Greisman
You wouldn’t know it solely by looking at this record, but this has been a decent year for Gabriel Rosado.
His first world title fight came in January on HBO, a bout against middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin. Rosado put up a brave stand against one of boxing’s most-vaunted punchers, but ultimately lost when his corner threw in the towel.
He fought again in May, appearing on the Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero pay-per-view undercard in a bout against 160-pound prospect J’Leon Love. Rosado dropped a split decision in a bout that some observers felt he deserved to win. Not long afterward, Love failed a drug test for a banned diuretic, and the bout’s result was overturned to a no contest.
He’ll be appearing on Showtime next month, fighting another middleweight titleholder, Peter Quillin, on the Oct. 26 undercard to Bernard Hopkins vs. Karo Murat in Atlantic City.
This has already been a decent year, but Rosado wants to make sure it ends on a high note.
Rosado spoke to BoxingScene.com on Sept. 24, chatting after his 15th day of training camp.
BoxingScene.com: What do you think about Peter Quillin? How long have you been following his career, and what have you thought of his progression?
Rosado: “Me and Peter actually fought on the same card about five years ago [in April 2008 in New York City], so I’ve been following Peter for a while. We actually did a camp together. He was getting ready for Winky Wright and I was getting ready for Sechew Powell. We got to see each other. That’s when we first actually met. I got to see his work ethic. He got to see mine. We definitely have a respect for each other’s crafts.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you think about his talent level and his skills, seeing him both in camp and on TV?
Rosado: “I think Peter is just a raw, rugged guy. I don’t think he’s the best technical fighter out there, but I think the reason he gets the job done is because he has a lot of confidence and he believes in himself. So, you know, he has the right attitude. He has the attitude of a champion. I think that’s his best quality, is his attitude.
“But as far as skill level, you know, I think he’s pretty basic, but he just has the right attitude. And it makes up for his lack of — you know, he’s not the fastest guy. He’s not like Marquez throwing four-punch combinations or anything like that. He just has the right attitude.”
BoxingScene.com: Are there certain fights that you look at to see what he does well and doesn’t do well?
Rosado: “Honestly, I’ve seen his fights from Winky to N’jikam to his last fight with [Fernando] Guerrero. He pretty much does the same thing. There’s really not much of a difference in his game. I see the same flaws that he’s done back with the Winky fight that he’s still doing now. There’s things that I see that I’m working on and will exploit the day of the fight.”
BoxingScene.com: Why did you decide to take this fight? About a year ago, you told me you’d go up to middleweight if the right opportunity presented itself. This is your third straight fight there. Why go up once again for this fight with Quillin?
Rosado: “It’s kind of like when I turned down my No. 1 spot at 154 to fight Triple G, it’s kind of like after that fight we just couldn’t get back down to ‘54. We tried to get some fights. We called [Erislandy] Lara out. We called Austin Trout out. Pretty much anybody that had a name at 154. It just didn’t work out.
“And then the Love fight presented itself. I felt it was a good opportunity. I thought it was one of those fights where I just couldn’t turn down. It was a big card, and it was a different guy where I knew I had the better experience, and it was a fight that I thought was very winnable. So it was a fight I just couldn’t turn down. From there, the Peter fight just arose. That’s just the way it worked out.”
BoxingScene.com: When you say you couldn’t get back down to 154, you’re not talking about weight-wise, but that you couldn’t get a fight?
Rosado: “I just couldn’t get a fight. Not weight-wise. I can make 154. But I think a lot of guys saw me against Gennady. You know, Gennady’s a monstrous puncher. He’s the Mike Tyson at middleweight. People saw that I wasn’t going down. I was fighting with two cuts over the same eye and I was getting hit with blind shots. I think people saw that I could take a big puncher’s shot, and then when I fought J’Leon Love, he came in at about 180 the day of the fight and I handled him. I think 154-pounders look at that and say, ‘Man, this guy is really big.’ At 154, I’m just the bigger man. The guys at 154 just didn’t want to fight me.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you think that you’re putting yourself at a physical disadvantage by going against these guys at 160?
Rosado: “At this point, this is my third fight at middleweight. And being that I experienced fighting at middleweight twice, I’m comfortable now. I’m sparring bigger guys. I’m doing some training to build mass. So I feel a lot more comfortable. I really don’t think that there’s going to be a size advantage for Peter Quillin.
“When we were in camp together, we were walking around at around the same weight at the time. I don’t really consider Peter Quillin a big middleweight. I think Peter comes in the day of the fight like probably 172, something like that, 173. He’s not a big middleweight. I think we’re the same size.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you think you’ll come in at on the day of the fight?
Rosado: “Well, I’m walking around right now at 173. I think, come day of the fight, I feel that I’ll probably walk in at 170. I don’t want to walk in too big. I don’t want to come in 174, 175. I want to come in at 170. I don’t want to be sluggish. I want to be elusive. I want to be quick. I want to be quick on my feet, so I really don’t want to come in too big.”
BoxingScene.com: This is a heck of a run you’ve had. Last year you’d had a good 2012. In 2013, though you haven’t won a fight yet, you had Golovkin for the middleweight title, a very disputed decision in the Love fight, and now you’ve got another title fight coming up. Why do you think you keep on getting these opportunities?
Rosado: “At the end of the day, I think boxing is about entertainment. And I think the fans appreciate a fight like the one I put against Triple G. A lot of people understood that it was a fight that I didn’t have to take. They knew that I was the No. 1 ranked to fight for the IBF [title at 154]. So the fact that I moved up in weight and didn’t accept it at a catchweight, ‘cause they said they’d meet me at 158, and I said ‘No, it’s for the middleweight title. Let’s just fight at 160.
“So I think a lot of people look at that and respect it. And with the two cuts over my eyes and I was still trying to do the best I could. Going through that, I think people just appreciate it. And then the fight with J’Leon Love, I think it was a fight that I clearly won. The fans, they spoke up and they booed that night, and a lot of people, they were showing a lot of love on Twitter and social media. They were just upset about the decision, and then a week later, J’Leon failed the drug test.
“Golden Boy had already told me that a win against J’Leon Love would get me a shot at the middleweight title. So the fact that everything played out the way it did, and getting the no contest, puts me in a situation to get the Kid Chocolate fight, which I feel like is a fight that I deserve.
BoxingScene.com: After the fight with Love, I imagine you would’ve wanted a rematch. But is this fight with Quillin even better than having that rematch?
Rosado: “Honestly, I didn’t even want a rematch with J’Leon. The J’Leon Love fight was one of those fights that I took in order to put myself in a position to fight for a world title. So I really wasn’t interested in a rematch because the fans thought that I won the fight, as I thought I won the fight. And then the fact that he failed the drug test, I felt there wasn’t anything I had to prove.
“The only way I would’ve taken the rematch is if it was financially something worth my while. Other than that, I just felt like there’s nothing to prove. If anything, J’Leon Love, he has a lot to prove right now. He needs the fight more than I do. I really don’t need the fight. Down the line, if there’s a rematch and it makes sense, it’ll happen. But I really wasn’t worried about the rematch.”
BoxingScene.com: You said you want to be quick and elusive when you’re in the ring with Peter Quillin. Does that indicate the type of strategy you want to have against him?
Rosado: “The type of fight I want to bring is I just want to fight a smart, disciplined fight. I think this time around my mental state of mind is a lot different. I’m doing things a lot different in my training camp as far as my lifestyle outside of the ring. I’ve always put 100 percent in the gym, training hard. But there were times where I had fights where I trained hard in the gym, but I wouldn’t get my proper rest. I’d probably be hanging out with my brothers or something like that.
“And this time around, I’m just being really disciplined as far as my diet, and once the gym’s over, I go straight home and am getting my rest. I’m not going out. I’m kind of just staying to myself. I’m not just training my body. I’m training my mind. I’m preparing myself, mentally, for this fight.”
BoxingScene.com: What prompted that change in discipline?
Rosado: “2012, I made some good money. And then I made some good money with Triple G, and I made good money against Love. Sometimes you can get caught up in making money and people recognizing you. You get caught up in that, and sometimes that can sidetrack you. I think I lost focus. I was just having a good time. And I think this time around, it’s like it’s out of my system.
“This time around, it’s like you got to put in the work. You got to discipline yourself. I’m a lot more disciplined now. I’m a lot more focused. I see the bigger picture. I’ve been on the big stage against Triple G, so I got a taste of it. I know what it takes. I know the things I need to do in order to take it another notch. I thought that if I added more discipline in my lifestyle, it would make me a much better fighter.”
BoxingScene.com: Was there a moment that you just realized this? Or did someone like a family or trainer who took you aside and say you’re doing a good job, but this is one thing you need to do?
Rosado: “No, it was actually me having a conversation with myself. I kind of just had the thought with myself. Like, ‘Alright, Gabe, what is it you want to do? Do you just want to be just an entertaining fighter, or do you want to become a world champion?’ And I just had a conversation with myself. And the other thing is being around Bernard Hopkins and the way Bernard Hopkins carries himself, and his lifestyle, has been a big influence in my life.
“I see the way Bernard is, and I’m always around Bernard. He told me that he made the change in his lifestyle once he lost the Roy Jones fight. He was actually the same age that I am now. He changed his whole game around. I thought, ‘Man, that’s what I need to do. I need to start really working on basics and things that are going to better me as a fighter, and my lifestyle has to change. I have to eat better. I have to rest better.’ So being around Bernard has definitely influenced me in a positive way.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you work a job, in addition to boxing?
Rosado: “Boxing is my full-time job now. I worked all the way ‘til 2012. I was able to quit my job when I beat [Jesus] Soto-Karass. I beat Soto-Karass in the beginning of 2012, and after that fight I was just able to focus on boxing. I made some pretty good money in that fight, but my whole career I always had a job. I was always working a 9-5, graveyard shifts, all types of jobs. But right now it’s just boxing 24/7, so I’m taking full advantage of that.”
BoxingScene.com: What kind of work were you doing?
Rosado: “When I fought Alfredo Angulo, I was actually working putting water mains underground. And then doing that was really hard on me. My last job, which was 2012, I was actually working at Home Depot. Graveyard shifts, stocking up, and things like that. It took a lot for me to not quit and just continue on pushing. I always believed in myself. Once I got that break, I got that Soto-Karass fight and made some good money, then I was able to just quit my job and focus on boxing.”
BoxingScene.com: Is this Quillin fight a do or die fight, pardon the expression, given what it would mean for your career should you win or should you lose?
Rosado: “I think you have to look at every fight as do or die. That’s just the mentality that I have. It’s like every fight I have is do or die. I feel like this Peter Quillin fight is a new beginning in my career, like I have a second chance. A lot of guys don’t get a world title shot two times in the same year. You know what I mean? You usually get a world title shot, and if you don’t win, you’ve got to rebuild. But I’m blessed to be able to fight for the second time for a world title in one year. So I know what I need to do this time, and I think that the small things that I didn’t do before are going to make a big difference this time around.”
BoxingScene.com: Is there anything else that you want people to know?
Rosado: “There’s been some smack talk between me and Kid. And I see on Instagram and Twitter that people are taking it like way too serious. I think this is a fight where me and Kid really don’t have to trash talk, because everybody knows what he’s going to bring to the table, and they see what I’m going to bring to the table.
“I think this is the type of fight that’s going to be like a fight of the year type of candidate. It’s a fight in which me and Peter both know each other personally. He knows how hard I work, and I know how hard he works. It’s that extra edge that’s added to the fight. I don’t want to lose to Peter, and Peter doesn’t want to lose to me. You’re just going to see an all-out type of fight. It’s more than just a world title fight. I don’t want to lose to him, and he doesn’t want to lose to me.”