Gabriel “Gabe” Rosado could well finish this refrain from the late singer Barry White by saying “Cause quitin’ just ain’t my stick.”
Gabe has been called a lot of things but quitter has never been one of them and if ever a fighter needs to be saved from himself it’s this tough-as-nails Philadelphian of Puerto Rican heritage with a deceptive record of 24-11. It’s deceptive because Gabe is a bleeder—so much so that he would make Dracula blink– and his propensity to cut has caused him to lose more than one fight.
When Gabe beat undefeated James Moore in Brooklyn in 2008, he garnered attention but things really accelerated when he beat former world champion (albeit slumping) Kassim Ouma a year later in Newark, NJ.
After being stopped by a relatively prime Alfredo Angulo that same year, Rosado bounced back with a solid win over Mexican KO artist Saul Roman in Atlantic City.
Rosado, the quintessential hot-and-cold fighter, then lost to Derek Enis in an all- Philly showdown for the USBA super welterweight title by MD.
Five months later, on December 9, Rosado launched a 7-fight win streak. The last three victories — over Jesus Soto Karass, Sechew Powell, and Charles Whitaker – were all in Pennsylvania and all came by way of stoppage.
Gabe had worked his way into top contender status. For his reward, he would fight none other than a prime and streaking Gennady Golovkin (24-0) in Madison Square Garden. They met on January 19, 2013, some seven years after Gabe’s first pro fight. The WBA and IBO world middleweight titles were at stake.
A game Rosado came to fight and had his moments by landing some head shots and proving that GGG was human after all, but by the seventh round his blood was all over the apron, on the scorecards of the judges, and on other ringside observers. Golovkin upped the action with a slicing and dicing attack and finally Rosado’s trainer Billy Briscoe threw in the towel and in so doing told Gabe’s father, “I’ve got to stop this fight or your son’s gonna die.” There were only 14 seconds remaining in the seventh round, but it was the right call. And Rosado gained much respect for his gutsy effort.
One on-line poster summed it up this way: “Max Kellerman seemed almost disappointed that Golovkin didn’t disintegrate Rosado’s face on the first punch of the night, but I’m not sure what more you can expect really. Rosado was very elusive tonight and he’s clearly a …warrior, but Golovkin slowly stalked him, landed big shots, and carved the guy’s face up for a stoppage….”
In his next fight, Gabe lost a split decision against undefeated J’Leon Love, but Love failed his post-fight drug test and the result was changed to ND. The fight itself was close with Gabe hurting and flooring the Mayweather fighter in the sixth with a hard right. Many observers felt that Gabe was the victim of bad officiating. (Herb Santos had it 97-92 for Love and that cements Herb’s place on the list of judges you don’t want to see in a big fight. I had Gabe winning 96-94, but this one at least didn’t go into the books.)
The Philly warrior (are there any other kind?) then lost to Peter Quillin, Jermell Charlo, and the very dangerous David Lemieux who also carved up Gabe’s face. Fans pleaded for Gabe to retire after this bloodbath, but he was having none of it because….“Quitin’ just ain’t his stick.”
BKB (Big Knockout Boxing)
Between the Charlo and Lemieux fights, Rosado had a fight that doesn’t appear on his BoxRec record. In August of 2014, he fought Brian Vera in Las Vegas in the PIT; that is, a circle about half the size of a conventional boxing ring that constrains fighters to stay close and use head movement to avoid constant countering. BKB generates action plain and simple and increases the likelihood of a knockout.
In this one, Rosado caught up to Vera in the sixth with a short but sharp right and sent him on a no-return trip to Queer Street. Rosado was crowned the BKB middleweight champion.
Back to Boxing
After his BKB fight, Gabe beat and likely retired former world champion Joshua Clottey (39-4) and then beat Antonio Gutierrez (20-1) in mild upsets. But he could not sustain the streak and lost to Willie Monroe and to Martin Murray in Liverpool.
The loss to Murray, on April 22 of this year, was controversial with one card showing 114-114 but another an outrageous 119-109. The other score was 116-112. (I had Rosado winning.) The heavily tattooed Gabe, who is surprisingly introspective despite his explosive temper, had pressed the action late. He was fuming after the fight and went after Murray but the two were separated before things became ugly. Curiously, Gabe did not bleed in this one; in fact, bleeding has not been an issue in his recent outings.
At this point in his career, it appeared Gabe Rosado could not catch a break if he tried to buy one.
Then on October 19, 2017, Gabe fought one-time prospect Glen “Jersey Boy” Tapia at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas. The fight would be on ESPN.
While some called this a cross-roads affair, given the brutal nature of Tapia’s defeats to James Kirkland and the aforementioned Lemieux, it was more a do-or-die for the 27-year-old Tapia (23-4 coming in). Gabe, still young at 31 (though with plenty of mileage), and with a very fine performance against Martin Murray, was more experienced and clearly more skilled.
After a fairly even three rounds, Rosado took over and began to nail Tapia on the ropes and by the end of the fifth, he was teeing off almost at will. Then in the sixth, he stopped Glen via a knockdown and a follow-up flurry that prompted the stoppage by referee Robert Byrd and hopefully convinced the fighter from New Jersey to reconsider whether boxing is something he should be doing. He has now lost to Rosado, Jason Quigley, David Lemieux and Michel Soro since 2015.
A jubilant Rosado did what most jubilant fighters do after an important win: he called out the best. “It was very important to get the win. It was important to make a statement, to be impressive, to put myself back into the mix. I want Canelo Alvarez, Danny Jacobs, or a rematch with David Lemieux. I want to prove that I still have something.”
Actually, he just might have something left, but at this point he is more a fringe contender in the 160-pound division than anything else. However, one more decent outing, and Gabe Rosado will be knocking at the door again. A rematch with Love would be interesting, as Love got waxed by Rogelio “Porky” Medina and then fought to a draw against Texan Abraham Han in his last bout.
While prudence says stay away from Canelo, Jacobs, or Lemieux for now, Gabe Rosado doesn’t duck anyone. Nor does he quit.
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Ted Sares, a member of Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame, is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and holds several records in the Grand Master class. He has won the EPF Nationals championship four years in a row. He also participates in track and field events in the Senior Games.