Last year at this time, Gabriel Rosado was on the rise as a legitimate light middleweight contender. However, his recent career moves may have done him more harm than good.
The 27-year-old, Philadelphia born Rosado was given a large shot in the arm last year when he was featured in three fights on NBC Sport Network's "Fight Night" series. This exposure and the success he enjoyed with three stoppage victories over Jesus Soto Karass, Sechew Powell and Charles Whittaker revived his career, which had experienced some setback. Rosado had previously suffered a second round technical knockout at the hands of Alfredo Angulo in August 2009 and a majority decision loss to Derek Ennis in July 2010 before rebounding nicely and going 7-0 (5 KO's).
Things began to look even brighter for Rosado when, after the Soto Karass fight, he finally was afforded the ability to train full-time as opposed to juggling his training with a 10-hour graveyard shift at The Home Depot. This significant change yielded immediate results for Rosado, capturing the WBO Inter-Continental light middleweight belt with his June 2012 victory over Powell to position himself within the top rankings. He subsequently became a mandatory opponent for then IBF light middleweight champion, Cornelius Bundrage, winning a title eliminator against Whittaker in September 2012.
All it seemed he would need to do next is wait for the opening to face Bundrage, a flawed 39-year old fighter.
With a burning desire to better challenge himself and make a statement, Rosado instead opted to go up in weight to face the avoided and undefeated WBA middleweight champion, Gennady Golovkin, in a far more difficult fight than what he most likely would have experienced against Bundrage. With all of the courage, toughness and heart often found in "old school" Philadelphia fighters, Rosado gave it his best effort against the bigger, stronger and more technically proficient Golovkin. However, he was beaten to a bloody pulp and his corner was forced to throw in the towel before the seventh round ended.
In defeat, Rosado gained the respect of the boxing world that this driven and hard-working young man so rightly deserves. This included his signing with high powered promoter Golden Boy Promotions. It was expected he would go back down to light middleweight with the experience of having been in the ring with a talented, highly regarded world champion and resume his campaign within a stacked division.
With all of the major 154-pound stars tied up with other bouts, Rosado accepted a fight with undefeated middleweight prospect J'Leon Love this past Saturday night on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Robert Guerrero. Many considered it to be a very risky move for the young Love, but it was an even more curious move for Rosado.
Following a 2011 that consisted of four fights against opponents who were below .500, sporting a dreadfully combined record of 15-54-7, Love suddenly ratcheted up the quality of his opposition this year with Rosado. Ultimately, the general view was that the overall reward would outweigh the risk regardless of the outcome, thus creating little downside for Love. Essentially, it would be a learning experience for a growing fighter who has room to develop. That is understandable.
What is far more difficult to comprehend is Rosado's rationale to fight someone as green as Love immediately following a loss to Golovkin as he continues to seek another shot at a world title. In doing so, Rosado seemed to have put himself in a no-win situation. A victory over a prospect with whom many observers are not entirely enamored would not exactly put him right back into title contention. A loss would set him back even further.
Even though many believe Rosado squeaked out a close victory on Saturday night, knocking down Love for the first time in his career, he lost a split decision. This is the first time he has suffered consecutive losses in his career, falling to 21-7 (13 KO's).
While Rosado is a much better fighter than his record reflects, his valor may have impacted his judgment and spun him off-track. If he wants to re-direct his career and get another world title shot, he needs to re-establish his focus. This includes picking a weight class and sticking to it, making smarter choices with respect to match-ups that are beneficial to him in the long-term and of course, avoiding the urge to jump at any opportunity to fight.
Case in point, Love has graciously offered Rosado a rematch. As tempted as Rosado may be to take him up on this to avenge the loss (and as much as fans might like to see it again), he might be better served if he does not pursue another meeting. Love held his own surprisingly well in the first fight and there is nothing to suggest he would not do the same in a rematch, especially since he now has a better sense of what to expect in such a situation. Anything short of a knockout of Love by Rosado would likely not repair the damage that has been done to his career at this point. If he should lose again to Love, it is all but over and he becomes nothing more than an opponent going forward.
Rosado has worked too hard for that to happen. Hopefully, it is not too late for him to do what he does best and fight back.
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