By Keith Idec
It’s just as well, according to Gabriel Rosado, that Sechew Powell replaced Joel Julio as his opponent tonight in Bethlehem, Pa.
Rosado figures he needs as much work against southpaws as possible as he prepares for a run at a junior middleweight world title later this year. The 26-year-old fighter from Philadelphia is 3-1 in his six-year pro career against left-handed opponents, but his last nine fights have come against right-handed boxers.
“I think everything just happens for a reason,” said Rosado, who’s 19-5, including 11 knockouts. “I was training for Joel Julio, but once they called me and told me Joel pulled out and the guy was going to be Sechew, when I thought about it I said, ‘Let’s make it happen.’
“In a way it’s kind of a good thing because the junior middleweight division is loaded with southpaws. You’ve got Austin Trout, you’ve got James Kirkland, you have [Carlos] Quintana, who just beat [Deandre] Latimore, who’s also a southpaw. The list goes on and on. So I think it makes perfect sense to fight a southpaw right now, because most likely the next guy will be a southpaw. Everything happens for a reason, and southpaw guys don’t trick me.”
Rosado’s most noteworthy win against a southpaw came three years ago, when he out-pointed former junior middleweight champ Kassim Ouma (27-8-1, 17 KOs) by split decision at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. An eight-round unanimous decision defeat to then-unbeaten Fernando Guerrero (23-1, 18 KOs) two fights earlier was Rosado’s lone loss to a southpaw, but Rosado dropped Ouma in the third round of that bout and feels that the scorecards didn’t really reflect the action in Salisbury, Md., Guerrero’s hometown.
The 32-year-old Powell (26-4, 15 KOs) has lost his last two fights, both by unanimous decision to IBF junior middleweight champ Cornelius Bundrage (31-4, 18 KOs, 1 NC) and former welterweight/junior middleweight champ Cory Spinks (39-6, 11 KOs). But Rosado, who’s ranked No. 5 by the IBF and No. 9 by the WBC, considers Powell the type of opponent he needs to beat to truly establish himself as a worthy world championship challenger.
“Sechew Powell is a world-class fighter,” said Rosado, who extended his winning streak to five fights by scoring a fifth-round technical knockout win against Jesus Soto Karass (25-7-3, 16 KOs, 1 NC) on Jan. 21 in Philadelphia. “He’s been to the big dance before. He has lost to top competition. My last win was against Soto Karass. It was an impressive win and I’m the first guy to stop him.
“But then again, a lot of people said he was moving up in weight and I was too big for him. With Sechew Powell, I get to beat a legitimate, top-notch 154-pounder. I’ve done it before, so I think it’ll really open a lot of eyes and I think it’ll really put me in a situation where I’ll get to fight for a world title, hopefully, in the next fight.”
The 12-round bout between Rosado and Powell will be televised as the main event of an NBC Sports Network “Fight Night” broadcast from Sands Casino Resort. Undefeated hometown fighter Ronald Cruz (16-0, 12 KOs), an emerging welterweight prospect, will square off against Cleveland’s Prenice Brewer (16-1-1, 6 KOs) in a 12-round, co-featured fight that’ll start the 9 p.m. broadcast.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.