With all the road blocks in and out of the ring, Gabriel Rosado could have given up.
There were the disappointing losses in his professional career that should have victories.
There were also the hours at work that he could not give up because that meant no money for food or to support his young daughter.
Rosado could have been that other fighter that made a few decent paydays, hung up his gloves, and prioritize his time of working two jobs that did put food on the table and a roof over his head.
But Rosado did not want to follow that script. He felt that he had more to give and that his career had gone unfulfilled. Greener pastures were over that hill and he was intent to get there anyway he could.
Not only did Rosado achieve that goal, but now he is setting his sights on the ultimate goal he has wanted since the days lacing up his gloves as an amateur.
Rosado will challenge Peter Quillin for the WBO middleweight title on Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. The bout will precede the Bernard Hopkins-Karo Murat IBF light heavyweight title bout. Both fights will be televised live on Showtime at 9:00 p.m. ET/ 6:00 p.m. PT.
Rosado is normally a soft-spoken person who will respectfully speak his mind outside of the ring. In the ring, it is a different story. His style as a boxer-puncher has given fight fans and media something to cheer about, especially in recent years when he pulled off a seven-bout winning streak at junior middleweight.
That came to halt when Rosado faced hard-hitting WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin in January. As brave as he fought back, he was not able to withstand the pressure, leading for the bout to be stopped within six rounds.
There were those in boxing who wrote off Rosado, especially in his last bout when he faced unbeaten J’Leon Love on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero bout on May 4.
Rosado never got the script to just be an opponent as he took the fight to Love after a slow start. A knockdown over Love in the sixth round and strong finish would have given Rosado the victory, but he lost a questionable 10 round split decision. The loss was changed to a no-contest as Love failed a post-fight drug test.
The fight (which a majority of ringside media had Rosado winning) against Love has given him a newer sense of confidence. It is coupled with the fact Rosado is now able to dedicate his time to boxing full time, something he has not been able to do until now.
It is why he believes he is ready to shock the boxing world in a big way.
“I know I want to put on a good performance,” Rosado told RingTV.com over the phone late Monday. “I had a great camp with the best sparring. Mentally, I’m more focused for this fight. It is why a knockout is very important because I want to make a big statement.”
A knockout victory over Quillin may be a tall order. Quillin has proved that he can take a punch and dished out world-class punishment in his last two bouts against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam and Fernando Guerrero.
Maybe Rosado (21-6, 13 knockouts) feels slighted by the fact some odds makers have him as a significant underdog. He wants to prove those naysayers wrong.
“I understand the whole champion is favored over the challenger,” said Rosado, who is promoted by Main Events. “I don’t feel as I’m getting any credit for what I’ve done. That’s why I want to have an impressive performance and I’m planning to knock out Quillin.”
Rosado embodies the aggressive style he carries with him in the ring. Maybe it is reflective of the blue-collar persona Rosado has had to embrace out of the ring.
When he was not fighting or to support himself, Rosado has had to lay pipe and work graveyard shifts at the Home Depot around his hometown of Philadelphia.
While the work was honest and it paid the bills, Rosado believed his future and a better tomorrow was inside the ring. After receiving a modest payday in the Love fight and because of the magnitude of the Quillin fight, Rosado decided to leave behind those jobs and concentrate his efforts for the fight on Saturday.
Rosado’s popularity has increased over recent months, mainly due to his fan-friendly style. Others could point to the fact fans can relate to his background and what he has gone though to make ends meet.
Whatever it may be, Rosado remains humbled and appreciative of the respect he receives.
“I think people are drawn to me because I’m just like them,” he said. “I don’t act cocky and I think fans could relate to what I am.”
“A lot of these fighters today are spoon-fed and have crazy records. Guys like me aren’t spoon-fed because that’s what turns off fight fans.”
While Rosado appreciates what boxing has done financially for him and his family, he also attributes his success from the advice given to him from Bernard Hopkins.
Not only has it been a thrill for Rosado to share activities leading to the fight on Saturday, but he has been a sponge for whenever Hopkins gives him advice.
“It’s been a blessing and I have learned a lot from Bernard. I feel like I’m more disciplined and a lot of what I do is what I have learned from him. I’ve been in some of his training camps. To get a chance to fight on a card where he is in the main event, I couldn’t paint a better picture.”
“For me to be fighting for a world title in a division where he holds the record is something that means very much to me.”
Rosado has been through a lot in his life. Maybe those road blocks and set backs, in and out of the ring, have prepared him for the biggest challenge on Saturday night.
While Rosado respects Quillin as a fighter, he believes the undefeated fighter has not faced the quality of opposition he has. Rosado reasons the Golovkin loss gave him an introduction into a deep middleweight division.
“I honestly believe my fight with Quillin is a toss-up, an even fight,” he said. “I was a force at 154 pounds when I fought Golovkin. People didn’t understand me or follow me then. I’ve filled in naturally and now that I’m a full middleweight, I feel a lot stronger at 160.
“I don’t know if people know what I’m capable of, but I love to fight and I feel like I’ve come into my own. I wish the fight was right now.”
Video/ Ryan Songalia
Photos / Jed Jacobsohn-Getty Images, Tom Hogan-Golden Boy
Francisco A. Salazar has contributed covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also contributes to the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Knockout Nation, and Boxingscene.com. He could be reached by email at [email protected]or on twitter at FSalazarBoxing