By Mitch Abramson, photo by Damien Acevedo
Will Rosinsky is a jokester. Hardly a minute goes by when the light heavyweight from Queens isn’t poking fun at someone or something. Rosinky graduated in the same high school class as Mets outfielder Mike Baxter at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens. Rosinsky describes his friendship with the player who saved the first no-hitter in franchise history with a dazzling catch this way:
“He was quiet,” Rosinsky said of Baxter. “I was a bit of a clown, but he was one of the quiet kids.”
When Rosinsky first learned he was fighting Kelly Pavlik on July 7, he thought the joke was on him. He didn’t believe it. After all, Rosinsky isn’t exactly a household name in boxing, calling himself just a “kid from Queens that no one’s ever heard of.”
Pavlik, on the other hand, is one of the big names in the sport, a fighter whose popularity was once so great that in 2008, Hillary Clinton called on him to campaign with her during the Ohio Democratic primary.
Pavlik’s star has dimmed since then as he’s battled alcoholism and lost his middleweight titles. But he’s still a big name on the comeback trail, perhaps a couple wins away from getting another title shot. Anyone who gets a shot at Pavlik has a chance to increase their own profile with a victory.
Rosinsky, meanwhile, is best known for losing a close fight to the highly-regarded Edwin Rodriguez in October and then suffering through the embarrassment of receiving little credit on the judge's scorecards. Rosinsky was so frustrated by that result he almost walked away from the sport for a second time. And he didn’t expect to get an opportunity like this one, even after winning two fights since the discouraging loss. But circumstances changed and worked in his favor.
The promotional firm Top Rank, which promotes Pavlik, was desperate to find a fight for HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” telecast at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA after another bout fell out because of injury on July 7. And Rosinsky's promoter, Lou DiBella, who was in El Paso, TX nearly two weeks ago for the Andy Lee-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight was able to make the deal with Top Rank. The call from Rosinsky’s advisor, Keith Connolly, on June 15, was therefore not a hoax, as Rosinsky had originally thought.
“I thought Keith was joking,” said Rosinksy, who works as an EMT in East New York Station 39 and lives in Maspeth. “I thought he was just making a joke, like, ‘Oh, you’re going to fight Pavlik.’ It almost didn’t make any sense- like how is it so close and why me?”
The 27-year-old plans to have fun with the spotlight. He proposed wearing a shirt for media day that says, “Who the [heck] is Will Rosinsky?” because of his relative anonymity outside of New York.
Rosinsky will earn “by far” the most money he’s made for a fight, according to Connolly, who declined to give an amount.
The bout is contracted at 169 pounds.
“It’s the opportunity for Will to walk away a star,” said DiBella. “It’s an opportunity to walk away one of the big players in the division in one night. This is a great opportunity for Will, who is someone who’s always wanted this opportunity. He’s always been eager to be in good fights. He’s ready for this opportunity, and I can’t think of a more winnable big fight like this for him in the division.”
What makes the idea of Rosinsky securing a bout with Pavlik even more incredible is that Rosinsky doesn’t eat, breathe and sleep boxing. Moreover, he has talked openly of boxing as a “hobby” rather than a profession. After he won the Daily News Golden Gloves for a fourth time as am amateur in April of 2008, Rosinsky had to be coaxed into turning pro by his longtime trainer and friend, Felipe Gomez because of concerns with the long-term affects of boxing. Gomez is a former amateur standout who won the Golden Gloves twice and was preparing to turn pro, even going as far as producing a fight poster for his debut, when he had to withdraw because of an NYPD policy that forbids police officers from going pro, he said.
“That’s something I always regretted,” said Gomez, who attained the rank of sergeant in the NYPD and trains Rosinsky at the Universal Boxing Gym in Queens. “I always think about what it would have been like to go pro and I told Will that he should just give it a shot, and if he didn’t like it he could always stop. But if he never turned pro, he would probably regret it for the rest of his life.”
Rosinsky (16-1, nine knockouts) nearly stepped away from the sport again in October because of his disgust with the judging in his loss to Rodriguez.
Rosinsky has designs on one day becoming either a police officer or a fireman, and he’s started the application process in both fields.
“This is a hobby for me, it’s not a way of living,” said Rosinsky, who will wed his longtime girlfriend, Jessica Carbone, in October. “I do it because I want to, not because I have to. It’s less nerve-wracking going into a fight because I know I have something after this. Some people it might work different. If this is all they have to live for, they’re going to put everything they have into this. For me it works opposite. I know I have another job. I love my job and I do this for fun.”
Rosinsky believes the timing of the bout with Pavlik could work to his advantage. Pavlik’s recent struggles with alcohol abuse landed him in rehab twice over the past two years, and he has fought just three times since losing his middleweight titles to Sergio Martinez in April of 2010. DiBella agrees.
“Pavlik is not the same Pavlik who beat Jermain Taylor,” DiBella said. “He’s just not. But neither is Jermain. But he remains one of the biggest names of the business. He’s dangerous because he can punch and he’s a big kid.”
Pavlik (39-2, 34 knockouts) last fought on June 8, stopping Scott Sigmon in seven rounds while Rosinsky also fought recently, winning a unanimous decision against Aaron Pryor Jr. on June 14. Not many people are giving him a chance against Pavlik. But that may be because most fans don’t know who he is yet.
“It’s funny, because just reading blogs and how everyone reacts to how the fight was made, everyone is like: ‘Who the hell is Will Rosinsky? Why is Pavlik fighting this nobody? Which, to me, that’s exactly what I want,” said Rosinsky. “Not only am I the underdog, but nobody knows who I am. So when I beat Pavlik, I think it will give me even more attention.”
Mitch Abramson covers boxing for BoxingScene.com and the New York Daily News.