“It was tough growing up in Philly. When you grow up in that kind of environment you fall down but you get back up and keep pushing.”
Gabe Rosado’s quote was worthy of a scene from Rocky. Having navigated his way through life in the city of brotherly love the 35-year-old has carved out a career of ups, downs, hits and misses and now he stands arguably one fight away from a third world title opportunity should he beat Jaime Munguia at middleweight on Saturday.
The fighter possesses a heart of steel and converses just how you imagine a fighter with a 15-year professional career would. A brief laugh of his breaks out when Boxing Social asks him if it has felt that long.
“Man, it goes by so fast. Goes by so fast it’s crazy. I’ve lived a healthy lifestyle, I take care of my body, I never blew up in weight, constantly training so I feel healthy. I feel strong, my whole camp for this fight my main sparring partner was [David] Benavidez. I stay in the gym with these young lions to stay fresh. Iron sharpens iron. I feel amazing, I feel great.”
Rosado believes after 40 fights he is entering his peak and becoming the best fighter he can be. The daily process in the gym keeps him sharp, learning and keeps the brain ticking which all play a part in maintaining his love for boxing and a reason for carrying on his push to become a world champion. On Saturday night he will need every ounce of his Puerto Rican heart and every weapon firing on all cylinders to beat Mexico’s Jaime Munguia at what will surely be a crackling Honda Centre in Anaheim.
So, does he have to outlast Munguia? Or does he simply go toe-to-toe with the unbeaten 25-year-old or will there be something more scientific to giving the WBO number one middleweight contender his first career loss.
“Munguia is the guy who comes forward, constant pressure and he throws every punch with mean intentions and very similar to my last opponent,” Rosado’s answer begins.
“The edge that I have is the experience, the ability to set traps but at the same time I have to get my respect. I have to sit there in the pocket, and you [Munguia] make a mistake you’re gonna get clipped. I think my experience is definitely gonna help me out. My conditioning is phenomenal, if it’s a high-volume fight, I’m definitely gonna be right there with him. I think this is a fight that’s gonna come down to will. Skills pay the bills, but I think it’s gonna come down to so much pride and ego that we’re gonna both have to bite down on the mouthpiece and really dig deep. And I’m willing and ready to leave it all in the ring come Saturday.”
Fans tuning in to the fight will have no doubt that Rosado will give everything he has to beat Munguia. Whether it will be enough remains to be seen but he has already caused one upset of the year contender in 2021 already as well as knockout one too.
To get to Munguia, Rosado had to confront a ‘Bully’. A moniker given to Uzbek super-middleweight contender Bektemir Melikuziev. Before facing Rosado, the career of the 25-year-old southpaw had been one full of promise with keen observers believing that the 2016 Olympic silver medallist would go all the way to the top. Rosado was in the way playing the role of gatekeeper at 168lbs.
In round 1 Melikuziev found a way through after a body shot, something he favours, which put Rosado down. Some encouragement for the underdog in round 2 led to an overhand right being uncorked in the third which whipped the face of Melikuziev and ended the fight. Celebrations, Bernard Hopkins at ringside motioning to Rosado to remain calm, the word “incredible” being used to describe the win on the DAZN commentary. Quite the night.
“I got with Freddie Roach, and we set ourselves a goal of getting to championship level,” said Rosado looking back on his 26th career win.
“There was this up-and-coming guy they called ‘The Bully’ and we knew that was the kind of win we needed in order to be in the position we are now. So, man, I was just extremely motivated in that training camp, I had a great training camp. [Gilberto] Zurdo Ramirez was my main sparring partner so the preparation for the fight was just perfect and so I went into that fight super motivated knowing that a win against Bektemir would put me in the position I am now.”
Such a spectacular win though. Was Rosado expecting that performance of himself?
“It’s crazy because that punch, we knocked him out with was literally a punch that we worked on in camp. It was why I got so excited when I landed the punch because it was just like we worked on it the entire camp. Bektemir is a strong guy, really is a bully. He’s really trying to walk you down, every punch is with mean intentions, but I kept my poise and saw the holes in between his big shots, and I just knew I would clip him. We knew we would get the knockout.”
The win gave Rosado a belt each from the WBO and WBA, neither a world title but the straps didn’t matter on the night. Beating Bek gave him the perfect platform to look for a bigger slice of the cake while speaking to Chris Mannix immediately after.
“We beat Danny Jacobs, I don’t care what they say and then we just beat this kid so I’m back-to-back coming off strong wins, so we want Munguia, baby.”
Rosado’s request to fight the relentless Munguia was met with delight by the crowd at the Don Haskins Centre in El Paso.
“This is a fight that was actually demanded by the audience,” said Rosado. “Fans wanted to see the fight. The Honda Centre is nearly sold out, I’m pretty sure it’ll be sold out by fight time. When you have a great Mexican warrior and a great Mexican-Puerto Rican fight that’s the biggest rivalry in boxing and just a huge fanbase. You’ve got great historical fights with [Felix] Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya, going all the way back to Wilfredo Gomez and Salvador Sanchez so it’s just some rich, rich history. So, it was just a fight that made so much sense. And it’s just a fight that you live for, it’s a dream fight. This is what we work hard for and I’m just enjoying the moment.”
Rosado’s record may read 26 wins, 13 losses and 1 draw but they are numbers that have become irrelevant thanks to the Indian Summer he is now enjoying. He touched on the loss to Jacobs and the defeat to Martin Murray too. Two fight he firmly believes he won but they are not fuel for the fire nor does he believe he has to prove doubters wrong. Day in, day out Gabe Rosado is continually working at his own fitness, a healthy lifestyle and bettering himself.
“The ring exposes you for who you are,” he says.
“Sometimes I failed but we’re going to fail in life. When you fail in life you don’t stop, you keep going. Why not do that in the fight? I feel like there’s always improvement to get better. And then at the same time I’ve been in fights where I’ve won the fight and I haven’t been given the decision. Last one was with Jacobs. Fights like Martin Murray, I thought I beat him, I outboxed him. So, the list goes on, there’s probably a handful of fights. I just keep pushing and I think the audience see that. I think it’s a unique thing because in boxing once you catch a loss, they write you off. I think a lot of times fighters get kind of discouraged and don’t work on bettering themselves, for me that’s just the total opposite because I always feel like I can get better. And of course, now at 35 is when I’m peaking and becoming my best.”
Rosado then went on to answer what winning this fight would mean to him.
“To me this fight is legacy. I think this will be a memorable fight, the people will remember for years to come and like I said I think its historical. There’s no world title on the line but it feels like that kind of fight, and I know the environment is definitely going to be electric. It’s historical, this one goes down in the books. It’s one of those fights that will live up to the expectations because there’s so much riding on it. I know he’s gonna come and he’s gonna bring his all and so am I and I’m ready and excited for it.”