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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Sye Williams / Golden Boy


Gabriel Rosado scored a crushing, one-punch knockout over undefeated Bektemir Melikuziev Saturday afternoon to win their scheduled 12-round super middleweight fight. The picture-perfect knockout earned Rosado the WBA Continental Americas super middleweight title belt, but more importantly, kept his career going strong and perhaps set him up for another try at a world title. The fight was streamed live on DAZN from the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas.

Going into the fight, Rosado was considered the underdog, despite his vast experience edge against the relative neophyte. However, Melikuziev, a two-time Olympian, was there to add warrior Rosado's name to his growing resume. The crude puncher was just 7-0, 6 KOs, before the fight began, and Rosado's rocky road of a record appeared ripe for the rising star. But the problem with fighting Rosado is that the LA-based Philadelphian refuses to stick to the script when it comes to expectations and betting odds.

Rosado has often come close in big fights, but has usually come away defeated. Gennady Golovkin, Peter Quillin, Jermell Charlo, Danny Jacobs, David Lemieux, Maciej Sulecki, Martin Murray, and Willie Monroe Jr. all registered wins over Rosado. However, Rosado's competitiveness in all of these bouts, as well as his blood-and-guts style, has kept him relevant to fans, networks, and promoters, despite any single fight's outcome. Boxing fans know that a Rosado fight is a must-see event, and that has kept him firmly in the public eye. Along the way, Rosado has gained crucial experience that is starting to pay serious dividends. Such was the case Saturday against Bek.

The fight started much as Golden Boy Promotions, Bek, and most of the boxing world thought it might. Bek floored Rosado near the end of the first round with a hard body shot and an accompanying crack to the head. Luckily for the Philadelphian, the bell sounded and there was no time for Bek to follow up.

The southpaw from Uzbekistan, now fighting out of Californian, continued his bruising work in round two. He remained aggressive and hurled his bombs to the head and body. The punches moved Rosado, who remained poised and fired back shots of his own. However, these shots by Rosado were not the factor that pushed him toward the ultimate conclusion. As Rosado absorbed Bek's constant offense, he stayed alert and observed the charging punchers rhythm.

In round three, the action stayed on course until Rosado, backed into a corner, timed a crackling right hand bolt onto the jaw of Bek, who was loading up with a looping left hand. As Bek bore in and arched his punch from left field, Rosado let go with the biggest and greatest single punch of his long career.

The Rosado right toppled Bek forward. He fell onto his face and tumbled as he tried to get up. The moment the punch landed, Rosado knew he'd won the fight and all his frustration, ambition, and his belief that he is far better than the tale his record tells, came out in the biggest post-fight celebration of his 40-bout career.

The knockout victory was the single most electrifying moment of his career and clearly sent the message that his work is not finished yet. The win improved Rosado's record to 26-13-1, 15 KOs, and has perhaps put him in position for a third world title shot. The performance also galvanized the theory that for fighters like Rosado, records can be deceiving. It also proved that records and expectations sometimes mean absolutely nothing with rising stars like Bek. In boxing, once the protective coddling ends, it comes down to whether a guy can fight or not. Rosado is the ultimate test in situations like this. So, prospects beware. 

After 40 fights and 15 years in the ring, Rosado is perhaps in the best position he's ever been. He looked quite golden back in 2012, when he rose to the number one (and mandatory) spot at junior middleweight. He was one fight away from a world title shot against a fighter he had an excellent chance of beating. However, instead of waiting for that fight, Rosado opted to move up to middleweight to take on 160-pound champion Gennady Golovkin.

It was a risky move, and did not payoff in the short term. However, it was one of the many building blocks that has led to Rosado's current crest. He's always served as his own manager, and although I've sometimes questioned his decisions, it has always been impossible not to believe in his confidence and determination. Gaby has always believed in himself and made career decisions that backed that up.

Rosado has never been given anything. He has fought for everything he has - every victory and every dollar that has come his way. The result is a 35-year-old contender who has outlasted many who have beaten him, and is once again in position to reach his dream of becoming a world champion. The odds may still be against him, but anyone who questions Rosado's ability to achieve is a sucker.




John DiSanto - El Paso, TX (via DAZN) - June 19, 2021