PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                             June 01, 2012


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Gabriel Rosado scored another impressive victory Friday night when he stopped tricky Sechew Powell in round nine of their main event at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, PA.  The victory earned the North Philly battler the WBO Intercontinental junior middleweight title.  But after the fight, it was another title that Rosado had on his mind.  

For the first seven rounds of the fight, and perhaps even a little more, Sechew Powell presented a puzzle to Rosado. Sechew's difficult left-handed style clearly was hard for Gaby to solve.  Powell stayed on the outside, remained set, and slipped sneaky straight lefts through Rosado's low defense.  Rosado was mostly unaffected by the blows, and just kept trying to whittle away the distance between them.  It wasn't an easy task. 

It wasn't the first time Rosado fought a southpaw in his career, but it was the first time since his career was on track for bigger and better things like a potential shot at a world championship.  Therefore, this was the first time Rosado was expected to know what to do with a lefty.  Clearly Rosado was feeling the pressure to keep his five-bout winning streak going, and that pressure made him cautious in the early going.   

Powell took advantage while Rosado hesitated, picking and poking his punches to steal moments, and some rounds, of the fight.  If Powell missed with a straight right, seconds later he'd drive one home to Rosado's face.  But Rosado wasn't doing the  math to ensure a points win, he was going for the knockout.   

In the fourth round, Rosado hinted at where the fight was going when he trapped Powell in a neutral corner and blasted away.  The moment didn't last long, a clubbing shot to the body and a few belts upstairs, but it was the first true indication that Rosado would be able to eventually overpower Powell, if he could just get close enough to do it. 

Rosado worked like a safe-cracker after that.  While Powell set the tempo of the fight, keeping things slow-moving and doing his best to muffle any threat of action, Rosado focused hard and kept working the lock to find the combination.  Gaby inched closer to cracking things open, like at the end of the fifth when he punctuated the frustrating round with a hard right hand that rocked Powell.  It was clear he was getting closer, but he still didn't rush it. 

Finally in round eight Rosado, discovered the tool that would do the trick.  About halfway through the round, Rosado blasted Powell with a left uppercut that wobbled the New Yorker.  Rosado followed with a hard right that knocked Powell back.  Reeling and weakened, Sechew grabbed the top strand of rope to help stay upright.  A stickler of a referee might have called it a knockdown, but not the cop directing this battle.  Referee Steve Smoger lets the chips fall where they may in a fight, and never gets in the way of how a bout is evolving.  He lets fighters fight, as all referees should. 

So a re-steadied Powell came off the ropes and tried to get the fight - and Rosado - out of gear.  But Gaby was revved, and returned to the uppercut - this time a right - and hurt Powell again.  For the second time, Powell grabbed the ropes and stayed on his feet, but with Rosado charging, he was running out of room.  At the end of the round, Powell corked Rosado with a stiff straight left.  Although Rosado wasn't impressed, Powell couldn't let the moment pass without letting out a "Woooo" in admiration of his own punch.  The bell ended the eighth before anything else could happen. 

In round nine, Rosado picked up where he left off, clearly having figured things out. "Once I got the southpaw thing  down, it was a wrap," he said after the fight.

Gaby worked his way inside with hard pressure and a good shot to the body that folded Powell at the waist. Before Sechew could straighten back up, Rosado nailed him with a booming uppercut that first rocketed Powell straight up, and then bowed him forward until his gloves hit the floor. 

Powell stood up immediately, and Smoger gave him a good hard look as he administered the mandatory eight.  But there was no way the ref was going to stop it yet.

When the action resumed, Rosado met Powell with a hurricane of blows.  He battered the injured fighter around the ring before backing him into a neutral corner and bludgeoning him with so many shots, that even Steve Smoger had seen enough.  With Powell slumping in the corner, Smoger stopped the fight at 2:43 of round nine. 

The bout was a difficult challenge for Rosado, but he worked hard to earn the win, and ended things so spectacularly that memories of his evening's struggles quickly faded.  In the aftermath, observers could only think about Rosado's next career move.  It is clear that he is making his stand in the 154-pound division.  Ranked #5 (IBF), and #9 (WBC) before the fight, Rosado will clearly move within striking distance of a world title shot once the dust settles after this one. 

To Rosado, now 20-5 with 12 KOs, the next move is clear cut.  "I want Canelo (Saul Alvarez)," Rosado said after the fight.  "Spread the word!  Get on Twitter, get on Facebook.  I want that fight!" 

WBC champ, Saul Alvarez is seeking an opponent for his scheduled September 15th title defense, after both Paul Williams and James Kirkland pulled out of the fight.  For what it's worth, a Rosado-Alvarez fight would be a thriller.  Although it is unlikely that Golden Boy Promotions will give Gaby the opportunity this time, we know from experience that Gabriel Rosado is up for any challenge that comes his way.  With trainer and chief strategist Billy Briscoe in his corner, Rosado has developed into a real contender, and after his last few fights, he really looks like he's ready to make his move.  If not in September, Rosado's day is coming. 

Sechew Powell left the ring 26-5 (15 KO), after his third straight loss.  Although he has turned a corner toward the end of his career, Powell still has plenty left to test other rising prospects. Two of the three official judges had the fight even at the time of the stoppage, while the third had Rosado up by a single point.  Many of the rounds were close and difficult to score, and I had Rosado comfortably  ahead after eight rounds. 

Bethlehem's Ronald Cruz also had a very good night before his packed home field.  It seemed that the excited crowd was comprised mainly of his loyal fans.  Cruz took on Prenice Brewer of Cleveland in an entertaining, high-level match-up of two good young welterweights in the 12-round co-feature of the night. 

Generally Brewer relied on his jab as a primary weapon, while Cruz applied pressure and tried to land power shots.  At the beginning of the fight, it seemed Cruz would find a way to stop Brewer.  But the out-of-towner turned out to be a tough and tricky survivor. 

Cruz was the aggressor in the bout, and did particularly well when he moved forward and pressed Brewer.  Much of the time, he was able to cut off the ring and keep Brewer backing up defensively.  However at times, Cruz would suffer a lapse and follow his mobile opponent around the ring when the lanky boxer would start to move.

Cruz dished out a great deal of punishment in round five.  After landing a hard right that hurt Brewer, Cruz pounded away for the rest of the round, but Brewer managed to escape the scare by grabbing and moving.  He also displayed his toughness. 

Cruz was back on Brewer in round seven, again hurting him and dishing out the pain along the ropes.  However this time, Cruz got a bit winded and was again unable to take Brewer out.  Once he escaped, Brewer would reset, move and jab and try to gain the momentum. 

This pattern played out the rest of the night, with Cruz repeatedly hurting Brewer, but the survival-minder visitor managing to keep out of serious danger until the final bell.

All three judges, Steve Weisfeld, Julie Lederman, and Phil Rogers, scored the bout 118-110.  I had it a bit closer, 116-112. 

The battle was fun to watch and was a good learning experience especially for Cruz.  He stayed undefeated, 17-0 with 12 KOs, and took home his first piece of championship hardware, the WBC Continental Americas title belt. 

Brewer lost for the second time, 16-2-1 with 6 KOs, but showed that he too was a good young boxer. 

The undercard began with a four round heavyweight draw between local Eric Newell and Newark's Tyyab Beale.  The decision was split  between the three official judges. 

Brooklyn's Anthony Irons topped welterweight Rafael Montalvo of St. Clair, PA by six round unanimous decision.

Sergey Kovalev remained undefeated, 18-0-1, by scoring his 15th KO over Darnell Boone, 19-19-3, 8 KO, at 1:32 of round two.  The light heavyweight bout was scheduled for eight rounds. 

Junior welterweights Hasan Young, Philadelphia, and Jerome Rodriguez fought to a four round majority draw.  It was Rodriguez' pro debut, and Hasan's second bout. Rodriguez probably salvaged the draw by hurting Young in the third, and stealing the round.  Young is an action fighter who looks like he might become a real crowd-pleaser. 

Philadelphia lightweight Tevin Farmer survived a final round knockdown to win a four round split decision over Tyrone Luckey of Middletown, in the walkout bout of the night. 

The card was held at the new Sand's Casino Resort Events Center, which proved to be an excellent place for a fight.  It is big enough to house an important show like this one, but small enough to put every fan close to the action. Of course Friday's frenzied crowd did much to coax the night's terrific atmosphere too. 

The Rosado and Cruz bouts were televised live by the NBC Sports Network. It was the third installment of the "Fight Night" boxing series, and once again it was a winner.  The next installment is scheduled for September 21, reportedly from the same venue.   

Main Events was the promoter of the event, in association with Peltz Boxing.  The alternate referees were Steve Smoger, Gary Rosato, and Shawn Clark.




John DiSanto - Bethlehem, PA - June 01, 2012