By John DiSanto – Philly Boxing History (.com)
Gabriel Rosado, the IBF’s number one junior middleweight contender, has fought himself to the brink of a big fight, but thus far such a showdown has been little more than wishful thinking. Coming off three straight career-defining performances on the NBC Sports Network, many thought Rosado would bound into a major contest with one of the divisions stars.
Rosado annihilated Jesus Soto Karass in January on the very first nationally televised “Fight Night” boxing show. At the time, gatekeeper Karass had never been stopped before, but a new and improved Rosado put that notch on his belt in less than five rounds.
Five months later, Rosado halted former jr middleweight world-title challenger Sechew Powell in the ninth round to send the message that his suddenly rising stock was no fluke. The TKO of Powell was a beauty, and coincided with a search to find 154-pound champ and an opponent for division superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez for a September TV date.
Team Rosado had high hopes that Canelo and promoter Golden Boy would give him the chance of a lifetime, but their callouts via Twitter, Facebook, national TV and promoter-to-promoter fell on deaf ears.
Canelo chose Josesito Lopez, barely a welterweight, as his next title challenger.
So Rosado moved on.
His next assignment, and most recent fight, was an IBF title eliminator against Charles Whittaker. Again Rosado scored an impressive TKO on national TV. He also moved one step closer on boxing’s chessboard by picking up a #1 ranking and the status of “mandatory challenger” for IBF champion, Cornelius “9” Bundrage. This is supposed to mean that Rosado is about to get his title shot. However, there is already talk that Andre Berto is next in line for Bundrage.
In boxing nothing is guaranteed – especially the things mandated by the rules.
“If we knew it was written in stone,” said Russell Peltz, “that he would fight either Bundrage or the winner of Bundrage-Berto in March, without people paying for exceptions, twisting the IBF’s arm, having the title stripped, that he would get in the ring in March that would be one thing. But there is no guarantee that that’s gonna happen.”
There are a number of excellent fights that could be made for Rosado. His style matches up nicely with many of the top junior middleweights out there – Bundrage, Canelo, Cotto, Trout, etc.
No one questions that Rosado, unbeaten in more than two years and riding a fairly high-profile three-fight KO streak against solid opposition, has the game to compete with the best.
The problem is that Rosado scores low on the risk-reward scale for the big names in the division.
Yes, he’s got talent, but is he worth the danger he brings?
To his credit, Rosado is a fighter that is willing to face all comers. He’s willing to put himself and everything he’s accomplished in the ring so far on the line for an opportunity to move up.
“The main difference is that Gaby will fight anybody,” said Peltz. “A lot of guys say they’ll fight anybody but then they bail out because it’s not enough money, or it’s in the wrong town, or it’s on the wrong night of the week.”
Not Rosado. He’s proven that when the call comes, he’s ready to fight. He wishes those atop the food chain had the same attitude.
“I just gotta keep chipping away,” Rosado said. “I just gotta keep doing what I’m doing. It gets a little frustrating because what makes sense to me is just putting (on) good fights. But you gotta deal with the politics.”
So what is perfect fight for Rosado? What is the blue-sky choice of opponents?
“If I was the matchmaker, I wouldn’t be afraid to put Gaby in with anybody, because we’ve got the best 54-pounder in the world,” said Rosado’s trainer Billy Briscoe. “I would like to get Canelo, I really would. For the simple fact that he’s a perceived superstar. And if you beat a perceived superstar, you become a superstar.”
But why would Canelo, or more accurately Canelo’s representatives, fight Rosado and risk that superstardom? The quick answer is that he probably won’t, at least not yet.
For the time being, Rosado and his team are going to have to settle for the waiting game, and be comfortable with the knowledge that he is close, and getting closer to the ultimate goal. They believe that their long road to this point has forged an excellent fighter. They believe Rosado is ready.
“I think he’s in the best position that he can possibly be,” said Peltz. “I don’t think there’s a fighter in the junior middleweight division that has had the kind of year Gaby has against the kind of quality fighters he’s fought. Nobody is on a better streak than Gaby.”
“Gaby has that grit,” Briscoe said. “He has that will to win. You can’t teach that. As soon as these guys decide to take the fight, rest assured we’ll smash them. I believe in Gaby with the utmost confidence.”
Rosado has come a long way, and he’s not finished yet. That #1 IBF ranking he earned may be the key to everything. It’s only a matter of time before he gets his shot.
“I’m just excited about what’s next,” Rosado said. “I feel like I haven’t even reached my prime yet. I’m still learning. Each day I’m progressing and I’m getting stronger.”
If he can play his cards right, be patient, endure the politics, and eventually wrap that IBF belt around his waist, everybody will want to fight him – all the other champs, contenders, and even the other young lions.
Rosado’s time is coming, and he deserves his chance.
For more on the Philly fight scene – past and present – visit www.phillyboxinghistory.com.