Back in 2012, Gabriel Rosado was a 26 year old on the verge of a title shot. He didn’t have a spotless record, a prospect pedigree, or even a promoter. What he did have was the fearlessness and tenacity that still define him as a fighter today.
Since then, Rosado has survived a lot of adversity. Tough luck scorecards, unfortunate stoppages due to chronic cuts, and some of the most masochistic matchmaking in boxing have all factored in to the 13 losses on his record, and observers questioning his place at the top levels of the sport.
But, through it all, Rosado has kept fighting hard and bringing excitement and action. And earlier this year, he earned a career highlight win and early Knockout of the Year candidate at the age of 35 by upsetting previously unbeaten Bektemir “Bek the Bully” Melikuziev.
His reward? Another headline fight against yet another undefeated young fighter, this time against Jaime Munguia on November 13th. Rosado spoke with Bad Left Hook about the upcoming fight, the road that led him to it, and what the future holds for him after his fighting days are over.
BAD LEFT HOOK: You’re a month away from a fight against Jaime Munguia. He’s a young, strong, undefeated fighter. But, none of that is unfamiliar territory for you. How does this matchup stack up against the other challenges you’ve faced in your career?
GABRIEL ROSADO: It’s back on the big stage, man. It’s back in a big fight. And this is what I worked so hard for linking up with Freddie [Roach], to get to those big fights.
I think it stacks up with all the other big ones that I’ve had, but I think that at this point in my career, I appreciate it more. I don’t take the moment for granted. It’s more, “you’re here, you gotta make it happen.” I’m putting that pressure on myself that this is it. It’s all or nothing. Whereas in the past, maybe being a little younger and a little more naive, you don’t really understand the magnitude of the moment. You don’t put in the work you thought you put in.
Not putting in that work isn’t something I’d have thought about given what we’ve seen from you in the past.
I get what you’re saying. I’ve always put in the work. But, there’s always the little things that matter. That are important in ways you don’t realize. Like rest. You don’t realize how rest is important. You don’t realize how maybe you need an ice bath. That might change the whole way you train the next time. It’s those little things that make a big difference. The sort of things I’m implementing in this camp that will make things even better.
I suspect that at age 35, those are the sort of things you need a lot more than you did at 25.
[Nodding] Those ice baths, ha!
I read back through our live coverage and recap of your most recent fight against Bektemir Melikuziev, and people were so happy for you over getting that win. At this point in your career, what does that sort of love and appreciation from boxing fans mean to you?
It means a lot, man! I think that’s what keeps me in the game. Promoters love to sell the “0”. They LOVE to sell the “0”. I think they use that to control fighters. But the fans, at the end of the day, they speak up. Even when I’m robbed against [Daniel] Jacobs, the fans spoke up. “Gabe won that fight!” And they let Jacobs have it. Promoters see that, and realize, ‘Damn, fans really like this guy.’
And I appreciate the fans for speaking up, because it keeps me in the game. The promoters are going to listen. It’s all about who puts asses in seats and who tunes in. So, I appreciate the fans for appreciating my hard work and my efforts. They were happy with the Bek win, and I’m going to keep that streak going on November 13th.
I don’t want to disrespect anyone else or diminish their record. I’ll just say that the official scorecards in some of your fights are surprisingly unrepresentative of the work you appeared to do in the ring. Does that influence how you develop your approach for high profile opponents?
I think the thing now that I’m with Freddie Roach? Freddie Roach, he loves to bang. Freddie Roach wants you to sit down on your shots, and his game plan is: Let’s get this knockout. There’s definitely a strategy behind it and a game plan. But one thing I appreciate about Freddie is that he’s instilling in my mind that we’ve just gotta get these guys out of here. And I’m sitting on shots, and I’m believing in my power.
I think when you have those fights with a lot of ups and downs, you lose a bit of confidence. And it just happens. It’s natural; we’re human. But, Freddy has made me believe again in my punching ability. And I think that’s why you saw the power in the Bek fight. Because he showed me the need to sit down on my shots, how we did it in camp.
And I think that’s something that’s really going to show in the Munguia fight. We’re going to sit on our shots. We’re going to bang. The kid is there to get hit. So, I don’t know how many of those hooks and right hands he’s capable of eating. But, it’s going to be a lot. [Laughs]
A lot of fighters get credited with heart, toughness, warrior spirit, whatever cliche you want to use. You got up against Bek and took the fight, you almost did the same thing against Maciej Sulecki… A lot of the losses on your record came in fights where you wanted to keep going, but a doctor or ref made you stop. There’s no quit in you. Are you like that outside of boxing? Like, if you’re playing Monopoly with your kids, do you make everyone stick it out until the last dollar is gone?
One thing is that I don’t separate boxing and life. To me? It’s the same thing. What you see in the ring is who I am. The ring is going to expose you for who you are. If you’re a coward? You’re going to show that you’re a coward in the ring. Because when it’s just you and another man, and he wants to take your head off? Your true self is going to be exposed.
That’s how I live my life, man. I don’t fold, I don’t crumble, I don’t sell out. And it shows in the ring.
You’ve never hesitated to get in the ring against anyone willing to face you, and that approach certainly hasn’t made your life easy. You had that two year run against Gennadiy Golovkin, David Lemieux, Peter Quillin when he was still undefeated, Jermell Charlo… We’ve seen plenty of fighters face just one of those guys and never be the same again.
[Nodding] NEVER the same.
But, 7 years later, you’re still going strong. What kept you going through those tough years and brutal, violent fights?
Man, it’s crazy. Just being very resilient. I think, being very stubborn and saying “I can do this.” A lot of it just comes down to believing in yourself. When you think about fights like Quillin, there are fights where I was unfortunately cut in later rounds and had to be stopped because of that cut.
And a lot of these fights were close fights, competitive fights. The one that maybe wasn’t as competitive was the one with Golovkin, where I had moved up in weight. And he was a way more experienced fighter at the time.
But I always feel that... If I just keep at it? Y’know, because I started in this sport late. So, I was learning on the job. It was just a matter of never feeling like I know it all. Always knowing there’s room to improve and room to grow. I still watch old school fights. I still study my fights. I study my opponents’ fights. I’m always trying to learn and get better.
I spoke with Diego Pacheco not too long ago, and asked him about training with you and David Benavidez. Any particular advice you give guys on that spotlight prospect path given how you started out and came up in your own career?
With Pacheco, he’s a solid young kid. He has a lot of skills, the skills to be a world champion. So, I do take time to share that experience with him, show him some craft, things like that.
With Benavidez, the kid is a two-time champion. When we’re sparring and getting each other ready to fight the same day, it’s great, world-class work, man. It’s funny because I used to spar Benavidez in Phoenix when he was just 16 or 17 years old.
But, it’s great working with these guys. Pacheco, he’s only 20 years old. He definitely has a bright future.
What do you see yourself doing after your fighting days are over? Not asking you to look past the fight in front of you, but you seem like you might make a hell of a trainer someday.
I don’t know if I have the patience for that. [Laughs]
But, I definitely want to stay involved with boxing. Maybe promoting, or maybe commentating. I’m actually commentating fights on Triller in New York on Saturday. I enjoy that, commentating. And, probably involve myself with fighters as a manager or promoter.
So you’re not going to just buy a fishing boat and disappear when you’re done boxing?
Nah, man, I’m gonna keep it moving. I love boxing. Like I said, I don’t separate boxing. To me? I box how I live.
Any last words about the Munguia fight on November 13th?
It’s gonna be a hell of a fight! I’m pretty sure it’s going to sell out, and we’re going to give Fury and Wilder a run for their money for Fight of the Year!