by: Sergio L. Martinez
Nature versus nurture is a debate that often rages, as people attempt to understand and identify reasons why certain behaviors or ideologies exist. Discussions are often heated, as solid arguments regarding this debate can usually be offered by both sides in most cases.
Regarding Philadelphia light middleweight Gabriel Rosado, however, there really is not much to debate.
Speaking from his home base, Rosado (20-5, 12 KOs)–who has a big fight coming up on September 21 against Charles Whittaker–told Boxing Insider, “You know, the thing is that I think fighters are born and boxing was always in me. I think it’s in my blood. I was always a big fan of [boxing]. Watching big fighters like (Felix) Trinidad, Pernell Whitaker, and Bernard Hopkins, I just always loved it. My family was also into boxing so it was something we did together. Growing up in North Philly in a tough neighborhood, you got to know how to fight so you can get respect. I was always really good at fighting.”
Even though the Philly native feels this way, he did not actually begin to box until the age of 18. But as Gabriel says himself, this was not because he did not try.
“When I was 18, I decided to enter a gym. My mother didn’t want me to fight, so that’s why I started so late ’cause when I would ask to join a gym, she wouldn’t allow it. She wanted me to stay in school. Once I was 18 and was able to make my own decisions, that’s when I decided to enter boxing.”
Once he began to box, Rosado initially had every intent to learn the sport before pursuing a professional career. A few amateur fights later, a then-19 year old Rosado decided it was time to move on.
“I had 11 amateur fights and I just didn’t like the amateur points system. I had more of a pro style. My trainer is more of a pro style trainer and we just felt that it was better for me if we just go pro, so that’s what we did. As soon as I decided to join boxing, I knew that this was what I was going to pursue in life. From the very beginning when I started boxing, I put everything I had into it because I wanted to achieve something in the sport. And now, a few years in the sport and I’m 26 years old and I’m now fighting for the number one sport in the world for the IBF.”
With no real amateur experience coming into the pro ranks, Rosado was subjected to having to learn on the job and cut his teeth against far more experienced boxers. In the first four years of his career, the novice Philadelphian was matched against multiple undefeated fighters, former amateur standouts and Olympians. This led to losses on his resume, but in Rosado’s mind, he gained so much more.
“I think that when you face adversity in life, I think it just makes you stronger. Those [loses] gave me a lot of mental strength. You need to take the positive out of every experience ’cause it makes you who you are. Things like that break you or make you. As a fighter, it just made me dig in deeper and want to work harder. It was definitely a reality check that I needed to work more on my craft.
“You know, I never gave up or ever lost confidence in myself ’cause I knew I could do this. I never saw myself as an opponent. Experience in the best teacher and I definitely gained a lot of experience from those losses. There is a saying in boxing which says when a fighter loses, he learns how to lose. I flipped the script because my losses taught me how to win. I gained a lot of mental grit and made me a much better fighter.”
Rosado’s first breakout win came against former world champion Kassim Ouma in 2009. It was a fight that was taken on short notice, but Rosado was able to pull off the upset.
“It was my first 10 round fight. I think I got a two-and-a-half week notice to fight Kassim Ouma. The funny thing was that four years back, when I was an amateur and I was green, I sparred with Kassim Ouma. I remember him whipping my ass, basically, in sparring. I remember telling my trainer, ‘Wouldn’t that be amazing if I fought him as a pro?’ Then four years later, I fight him as apro and I beat him. It’s interesting the way things work.”
Unfortunately for Rosado, he would suffer a technical stoppage against Alfredo Angulo in his very next fight, which set back the progress he had made. Rosado understood that it would take someone like him longer to climb back up from this loss because he was not a former Olympian and/or amateur standout with the luxuries afforded to those types of fighters.
“The business is definitely a lot more fair to the guys that have the big amateur backgrounds and the big promoters,” Rosado opines.
“Unfortunately, it’s the promoters’ fault because the promoters are the ones that create these fake undefeated records. It’s easy to be undefeated these days. There are more undefeated fighters today than ever before. The undefeated record is overrated. I’ve gained the respect of boxing people where now they realize that I started late and I was learning on the job. I think it’s impressive to people that they look at me and say, ‘Wow.’ They would never expect me to be the fighter that I am now.”
Despite his losses and setbacks, Rosado has maintained focus because he believes that, in the end, pressing forward is more important to the fans.
“At the end of the day, people like the underdog. People like the guy that comes from the bottom and works his way up and that’s what I’ve done in my career. I’m from Philadelphia so I’m the real life Rocky Balboa. Right now, we are fighting for the number one spot and, if everything works out, I’ll be lined up to fight for the title. I did that off of pure hard work and determination. I think people appreciate that at the end of the day.”
In order to secure this title shot, Rosado has to defeat Charles Whittaker: a 19-year veteran who has not lost a fight in eight years.
Rosado offered this about Whitaker: “He’s an old crafty veteran that’s been in the sport for years. I’m definitely not taking him lightly because he’s up there in age and, you know, this is his last chance at a title so you know he’s going to come in the best shape of his life. I’m going to be prepared for the best Charles Whittaker. I’m not taking him lightly as he’s in my way at a world title, so I’m not letting him take that away from me. I’m preparing as if he’s the best fighter in the world right now.”
Win, lose, or draw, the North Philly tough guy will surely fight on because it is who he is and what he does.
“I fight for my daughter ’cause, you know, I want to give her the best things in life,” explains Rosado.
“Boxing, you know, is all I’ve got and it’s what pays the bills. I love the sport, but if it didn’t pay then it’s something that I wouldn’t do because, you know, fighters die in the ring. You’re putting your life at risk. But, I’m competitive by nature and I love to fight. I’m not the type of fighter that gets in the ring and gives a boring fight. I love the fans and I always want to entertain the crowd and give the fans a great show.”
“I just want to thank all the fans and everyone out there that has supported me: especially my family,” said Rosado.
“I also want to make sure that everyone knows that I always want to entertain the fans and when you purchase a ticket to watch me fight, you’re going to get your money’s worth. I’m all about giving the fans what they want to see and I definitely always keep the fans in mind ’cause I want to entertain. I can’t wait for September 21 because I going to make another statement. They’re definitely going to have to include me in the mix as one of the best 154 pounders and, God willing, I’ll get my title shot soon.”