By Jake Donovan
VERONA, NY -- Joshua Clottey had it and let it slip away.
It seems to be a recurring theme in the career of the former welterweight champ, as he watched Gabriel Rosado snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in their 10-round middleweight bout Saturday evening at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York.
Scores were 97-93 (twice) and 96-94 in favor of Rosado, who picks up his first win in more than three years. He is also the second fighter from the latest Rocky franchise entrant "Creed" to win a fight following the film's release, coming on the heels of Tony Bellew's 12-round win over Mateusz Masternak one week ago (tip of the hat to HBO's Kieran Mulvaney for that trivia note).
Despite being at a massive size disadvantage, Clottey was not only dictating the pace but landing the more telling blows in the early round. Brief drama developed when Rosado managed to land a left elbow that caught Clottey above his left eye, but never proved to be a factor.
Working for the first time with former two-time champ-turned-trainer Fernando Vargas, Rosado picked up the pace in the middle rounds. Not all of the punches were getting through, but his workrate was enough to force Clottey to go into defensive mode, a fighting tactic that has cost him in previous big fights.
This particular bout - which was fought at a 158 lb. catchweight - wasn't on that level, but served as an unofficial audition for the winner to land a big name in 2016. Clottey in particular could have punched his way to a potential crack at newly crowned World middleweight king Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, as he is a small middleweight (really a super welterweight) who wouldn't fuss over fighting at a catchweight.
It was a longshot going on and even more so after Saturday's outcome. Rosado rode out Clottey's offense in the first half, surging to finish strong. Clottey attempted to turn it around in the 10th and final round, but was mathematically out of the fight, not to mention that he couldn't put it together for all three minutes even with his career in the balance.
Rosado advances to 22-9 (13KOs), earning his first win since a 10th round stoppage of Charles Whittaker way back in Sept. '12. That bout earned him a crack at unbeaten middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin, suffering a brutal 7th round knockout loss to kick off a stretch of winless performances in five straight fights.
His luck changed in getting the nod over Clottey, who snaps a four fight win streak in falling to 39-5 (22KOs). At age 38 and historically a tough out - and even tougher sell - there appears little hope in the Ghana-born boxer returning to the limelight.
With his own win, Rosado is hoping to cash in at Clottey's expense.
“I am ready for my next big challenge, I would like a shot at Canelo next,” Rosado said after the fight.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox