by David P. Greisman
One guy is a middleweight, is undefeated, has been knocking out foe after foe and is being hyped up by HBO.
The other has been campaigning at junior middleweight, has five losses on his record and has been featured over the past year on the NBC Sports Network.
But Gabriel Rosado says that he has grown as a fighter and has both the ability and the versatility to top 160-pound titleholder Gennady Golovkin.
Rosado, a 26-year-old from Philadelphia with a record of 21-5 (13 knockouts), will face the 30-year-old Golovkin (24-0, 21 KOs) on an HBO card airing Jan. 19 from The Theatre at Madison Square Garden.
He spoke with BoxingScene.com in late December.
BoxingScene.com: Gennady Golovkin has got the HBO hype behind him. But what do you think of him as a fighter?
Rosado: “You know, I think he’s a solid guy. I think he’s solid, he’s strong, but I really don’t think that he has the boxing ability that I have or is seasoned the way I am as a professional. If you look at the records, he’s an undefeated fighter, and I have losses on my record. But the difference is I had to learn on the job as a pro starting at the age of 18 and only having 11 amateur fights.
“But once I gained my experience and I got seasoned and I was able to train full-time and not worry about holding a job, everything switched around. And at this point I’m on a whole other level right now, and I think that’s obvious with my last couple wins. And I think my last few fights are better than anybody that Triple G has fought, so I’m really confident going into this fight.”
BoxingScene.com: Would you still consider him a step up in competition compared to the fighters you’ve been facing recently?
Rosado: “You know, man, I look at it like another fight, honestly. I’m not caught up in the hype. I just really look at it like another fight. I’ve been in the ring with tough guys. Kassim Ouma. Sechew Powell. Soto-Karass had never been stopped. I’m the first guy to stop him.
“So I’ve been in there with guys with names, tough veterans and fighters who fought for world titles and former world champions. So I know what it is to fight a top fighter. I just look at it like another fight. The only difference is he has a bunch of buzz, and he has this big amateur pedigree. But at the end of the day, he’s just another guy to me.”
BoxingScene.com: You two have a common opponent in Ouma, who you beat by split decision in 2009 and Golovkin stopped Ouma in a tough outing in 2011. Did you see his fight with Ouma, and what did you think of it?
Rosado: “Yeah, I did. Ouma’s a tough guy. I think Ouma was a lot fresher when I fought him at the time, because when I fought him it was four years back. And at that time I was still learning on the job. But Ouma’s a tough guy, And he gave Gennady a tough match, and he busted him up pretty good, and it was a toe-to-toe action type of a fight.
“I think a guy that punches as hard as me, I don’t think Gennady will last in a fight like that with me, because I’m punching a lot harder than Kassim Ouma. So I definitely studied that. At the end of the day, styles make fights. I’m not really putting so much stock into that fight.”
BoxingScene.com: There had been reports that there had initially been a catch-weight of 158 pounds for this fight, but no longer. Why not?
Rosado: “There was a catch-weight, but I asked for the catch-weight to be dismissed because I never asked for the catch-weight. I think that was something between my adviser, Russell Peltz, who is doing his job as my adviser by looking out for me. He figured that a catch-weight would benefit me.
“But I’m the type of fighter where I have that old school mentality. We like to honor weight classes, and this is for the middleweight championship of the world, so I want to honor that weight class and fight at 160. So I asked for that weight class to be changed. I don’t want to fight at a catch weight.”
BoxingScene.com: You’re a natural junior middleweight. What are you expecting for a bout against a natural middleweight?
Rosado: “I think I’m pretty much just a middleweight that can make junior middleweight. I’m a big guy. I’m taller than he is. I have the longer reach. If anything, I’m probably the biggest junior middleweight in boxing right now. I have the size advantage against every guy when I step in the ring.
“So I think going to 160, the weight’s not going to be a problem. And if anything, I think I’m going to push a lot harder at 160. You know, I walk around at 170, so I’m a pretty big guy. Right now [in late December] my weight is at 168. Once I get down to 160, I’m going to be nice and healthy and strong, and I think I’m going to be faster than I’ve ever been.”
BoxingScene.com: Why fight at middleweight, instead of waiting around for a shot at one of the top 154 pounders?
Rosado: “You know, man, I like challenges. I did seal the deal at 154 for the mandatory [for the IBF title], but then this opportunity came. You know, with all the hype of Triple G going on and things like that, and being that he does have an impressive amateur background and is knocking everybody out, I just see it as an opportunity where I beat this guy and I become a star and I get the big fights.
“I just see it as an opportunity right now, and it’s a challenge that I want to face. I think it’s something where I’ll win a lot of the fans over. At the end of the day, the fans want to see great fights. A lot of guys duck each other. And a lot of guys are ducking this guy. But I want to step up to the plate and be the guy that shows I’m ready for the challenge, and seize the moment and take advantage and be middleweight champion of the world.”
BoxingScene.com: If you win this fight, do you plan to stay at middleweight or to go back down to 154?
Rosado: “You know, I’ve always told my adviser that I’m willing to fight at ’60 or ’54. So to be middleweight champion of the world obviously is something that I want to continue on, is a title I want to defend — but I definitely feel like I have unfinished business at 154 as well. So I definitely have no problem going back and forth between weight classes.”
BoxingScene.com: Who would you want at 154?
Rosado: “Obviously the big names are guys like Canelo [Alvarez], and even Austin Trout, with having a big win against Cotto. I’m definitely motivated for this fight because I see the big picture. The big picture is to win this fight, to get those big fights, and then I’ll start building my legacy. I’m in this not just to be world champion. I want to do great things in the sport of boxing. I definitely want to be one of boxing’s pound for pound.
“So I see this as an opportunity where I have to dominate this fight, just so I can get those fights. Obviously Canelo, Austin Trout and if K9 [Cornelius Bundrage] still has a title, I definitely want those fights. And then you got Sergio Martinez. He is the middleweight champion, and he is the middleweight pound-for-pound. And he says that he has three more fights in him, so I’d definitely like to get a shot at Sergio Martinez as well.
“So I’m not looking past Triple G, but what I’m doing is just motivating myself to be victorious on the 19th so that I can move forward and get those big fights.”
BoxingScene.com: You said, obviously that styles make fights. What do you want to do to beat Golovkin?
Rosado: “You know, the thing about me is if you look at my last couple fights, you’re not going to see the same fight. You’re going to see a different style each fight. If you look at the Soto-Karass fight, you’re going to see a lot of movement and smart pressure, and you see speed in that fight. And then with Sechew Powell, you see countering and body punches and me obviously breaking him down in the later rounds. And with Charles Whittaker, you just see me being like a Joe Frazier, pretty much bullying him and just fighting him on the inside.
“So there’s a lot of styles to me, and that’s going to benefit me, because if one thing’s not working, I can always switch over to a different style. I have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and with Triple G, what you see is what you get. He’s only going to do one thing. And if that one thing’s not working, he’s just going to try to do that one thing even harder. So he’s not a guy who’s going to get on his toes and box. He’s just going to continue applying pressure. With me, he doesn’t know what type of fighter he’s going to see that night. I can do a bunch of things. And I think the ability of adjusting is going to make me be the winner that night.”
BoxingScene.com: What are you feeling about the fact that you’ll be making your HBO debut AND fighting in the Theatre at Madison Square Garden?
Rosado: “Man, that’s like a dream come true. Fighting for the middleweight championship of the world, it’s such a prestigious title in boxing, heavyweight being the first, middleweight being the second. And to do it in Madison Square Garden, where there’s going to be a bunch of Puerto Ricans. You know, I’m Puerto Rican, and watching [Miguel] Cotto and Tito Trinidad fill up Madison Square Garden, I remember going to those fights and telling myself that I would love to be in that situation someday.
“So to finally be there on HBO and fight for the middleweight title, man, it means a lot to me, and I have a lot of fans that are going. You know, in less than two weeks, my brother sold about $6,000 worth of tickets, and he just ordered more tickets. There’s going to be a big fan base over there. It’s going to be like a hometown fight. I know a lot of people are going to be supporting me. So I’m just excited about it.”
BoxingScene.com: What has this journey been like for you, going from being spotlighted on the NBC Sports Network broadcasts to essentially earn this spot that you’re in now?
Rosado: “It means a lot, man. I think that everything I’ve been through in my career prepared me for this moment. I’ve always been the underdog. And I think now I’m experienced and I’m seasoned, and I think that’s what prepared me for this opportunity. I think that being so busy on the NBC fights, I’m sharp. I’ve been in the gym all year round. So I think this is perfect timing for me to get this opportunity. I’m really confident. My trainer’s really confident. We just can’t wait to shock the world.”
BoxingScene.com: Any final thoughts?
Rosado: “I’m just really excited about the fight. I can’t wait to shock the world. I know a lot of people that don’t understand boxing. They look at the record and say this guy has losses and this guy is undefeated. But I consider myself to be a special fighter, because a lot of guys that go through the type of adversity that I’ve been through, they’ll quit. And I never quit. I never gave up on myself. If anything, everything I’ve been through made me stronger.
“And I think that makes me dangerous. The fact that I’ve never quit, and everything I’ve been through just to get to where I am now, it just shows the character that I have as a fighter. And I’m not going to quit. I’m going into this fight with the mentality of winning. And I will be victorious that night.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]