Gabriel Rosado dominated veteran Charles Whittaker tonight on NBC Sports from the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, knocking him down four times en route to a 10th round stoppage, putting him in line for a shot at the IBF junior middleweight title.
Rosado (21-5, 13 KO) started a bit slow in the first round, but that wound up the only round that went to Whittaker on the Bad Left Hook scorecard, which had it 89-80 Rosado at the time of stoppage. Rosado first dropped Whittaker in the fifth round, but as he rushed in trying to close the show with the clock running down, Whittaker cracked him with a left hook that shook Rosado badly, and affected Rosado into the next round.
After Rosado got his legs back, it became mostly one-way action. The pace he set favored his younger body, and he was able to pressure Whittaker (38-13-2, 23 KO) to the ropes consistently. When the fight got into close quarters, it was all Rosado.
Rosado will now wait to see what happens with the IBF belt, which is reportedly set to be contested on November 24 on HBO, when Cornelius "K9" Bundrage defends against the returning Andre Berto. He's earned his way there and started to come into his own this year. Either Bundrage or Berto would be another step up, but it's about the last step that Rosado has to take. It's sink or swim at that level now. It's his time to give it a shot, and he's as ready as he'll get.
The title shot, according to Kathy Duva of Main Events, is due in March 2013.
It was another good show from Main Events, matchmaker Russell Peltz, and NBC Sports. There has been no TV boxing series in 2012 as consistently good as this one, in my opinion. The reason is simple: Matchmaking. They need to make competitive fights worth watching to get even hardcore boxing fans to always tune in on a Friday or Saturday night for shows like this one. You need to give people a reason to come back. And that starts with the matchmaking. They've purposely chosen non-showcase fights in almost every bout they've booked for the show, and it has worked.
This has quickly become a show you can be confident is going to be worth your time. This isn't a promoter getting an exclusive TV deal and turning it into junk -- mismatches that make their fighters "look good." Fight fans see through that crap, and they don't respect it. There's a reason that Golden Boy taking over Solo Boxeo didn't work, there's a reason Top Rank failed badly with their old Versus deal. That's been the standard for deals like this. But Main Events doesn't have the time or resources to waste the way those companies did, so they're not wasting their time or yours. They're giving an admittedly niche audience something they want to watch. Or at least that's how I see it.
TV Undercard Results
Antwone Smith SD-10 Ronald Cruz: This is the first loss for Cruz, who did a post-fight interview on TV about not making excuses, and then ... actually didn't make excuses. Can you believe that? I had this one 95-95. Ryan Bivins, who was live at the show tonight, said he had it 7-3 for Smith, and other media felt a win for Cruz would have been a hometown robbery. Also, the three scores were fair: 96-94 for Smith twice, 96-94 for Cruz once. So that means that a road fighter, in a guy's actual hometown, got the scores in a close, competitive fight, from three judges who aren't "big name judges." This whole thing was just downright fair. Who dropped the ball? Smith 22-4-1 (12), Cruz 17-1 (12).
Sergey Kovalev TKO-3 Lionell Thompson: Thompson was never in this, as Kovalev couldn't miss with his right hand, and that spelled doom for Lionell, who is said to have done very well in training camp recently against Chad Dawson. But this was a wipeout. Kovalev has some serious thunder in his shots. Thompson went down hard in round two, and was basically out of it then. Thompson was floored again just after the fight was restarted, as Kovalev drilled him with another right hand at the bell to end the round. 14 seconds into the third -- which didn't really need to happen -- Kovalev finished him off. The Russian might be as ready as he's going to get to take on someone really legit, which was the intent with Campillo here. Kovalev 19-0-1 (17), Thompson 12-2 (8).