PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - December 15, 2015  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Ray Bailey & John DiSanto


Gabriel Rosado, that old-school Philly fighter who already fought twice for the world title and has been forging a memorable professional boxing career since 2006, surprised many about a year ago by packing his bags and leaving the City of Brotherly Love for the lure of Los Angeles, California. Although the fickle fans criticized this tougher than tough ring warrior for going “Hollywood”, these days Rosado appears to be having the last laugh.

Not only is Rosado’s high-profile boxing career still alive (on Saturday he fights Joshua Clottey at Turning Stone Casino on HBO Latino), his burgeoning acting career is suddenly buzz-worthy as well. Currently Rosado can be seen playing Leo “The Lion” Sporino, a major role in the recently released Rocky movie sequel, CREED.

“I moved to LA to get into acting,” Rosado said. “A lot of people didn’t understand why I moved to Hollywood, and I was getting a lot of shit for it. I was like, I’m only here because I’m on a mission.”

Rosado immediately followed up Creed with an appearance on the TV series KINGDOM. It was a nice one-two acting punch for the fighter. However, after wrapping the TV role, Rosado returned to his day job and began training for this next fight.

“I did Creed right after a fight,” Rosado said. “I was on my off time. Then I did a show called Kingdom. Nick Jonas is one of the stars of the show. So I got the opportunity to do that. I get calls for (other) shows, but I still got a mission with boxing.”

Although acting might be a major part of Rosado’s future, boxing still holds the number one spot on his list of priorities.

“Boxing is always going to be first,” Rosado said. “I still want to get that title. I don’t feel like my heart is out of boxing yet.”

Saturday night Rosado faces former welterweight champion Joshua Clottey, 39-4, 22 KOs, in a 10-round middleweight bout that can keep the boxer/actor’s ring career going and perhaps even move him back in the direction of another title shot.

Lately Rosado, 21-9, 13 KOs, has been on a lucrative-but-bumpy stretch of his boxing career. His last victory was in 2012, when he capped undoubtedly the best year of his career with a TKO of Charles Whittaker to become the #1 IBF junior middleweight contender. His 2012 also included stoppages of Sechew Powell and Jesus Soto Karass. However, Rosado hasn’t won a fight since.

Rosado has been in with a list of killers over the past few years (Gennady Golovkin, J’Leon Love, Peter Quillin, Jermell Charlo and David Lemieux), and although winning those fights wasn’t completely out of the question, the odds of a Rosado victory in any one of them were pretty long.

“It’s not that I couldn’t win those fights,” Rosado said. “But it was name after name after name, and then it was puncher after puncher. I don’t think it ever allowed me to get into a groove or a rhythm. It was just tough.“

However, the Clottey fight appears to have been matched for Rosado. Clottey, 38, is no pushover, but he’s fought just five times in as many years and has never fought a full-fledged middleweight contest.

“This is a different situation,” Rosado, 31, said. “I just really wanted the opportunity to come back strong. I think they finally put me in that position. I’m not taking him lightly because I want to look good, but it feels like a good situation to be in. Clottey is a name, but obviously he’s moving up in weight. So they’re putting me in a position where I’m supposed to look good - and that hasn’t happened in a while.”

Although it is true that Clottey has only lost to elite fighters, the odds should still be in Rosado’s favor on fight night. So that certainly makes this fight a must-win for the fighter from Philly.

“It definitely feels that way,” Rosado said. “This is a big fight. It’s a fight that could put me in position to fight Canelo Alvarez next. So I definitely made sure I did everything right. I went away to camp (in Las Vegas), hooked up with (strength and conditioning coach) Jason Sargus, and got with Fernando Vargas. I made sure that I’m in top shape for this fight.” 

Rosado’s roster of instructors has been constant flux since splitting with longtime trainer Billy Briscoe. Former champ Vargas is the latest to guide him as head trainer.

“He’s all business,” Rosado said of Vargas. “So we’re having a really good camp. Hard work and the things he’s showing me… He’s making sure I’m going to the body more and that I’m sticking to my jab. He’s no joke. He’s intense as a trainer, no joke at all. It’s really going good.”

Despite establishing himself as a fighter who can attract fans and still land important fights whether he wins or not, a loss to Clottey would prove quite damaging to Rosado’s viability as a top-tier fighter. It would also dash any hopes of landing a May 2016 meeting with Canelo.

“I don’t even think about it because I don’t see myself losing the fight,” Rosado said about the potential fallout of a loss to Clottey. “It’s hard to think about. The way I feel is if I can’t beat a guy like Clottey then maybe I need to take on Hollywood fulltime.” 

I’m sure making movies isn’t easy, but it has to have plenty of major advantages over a ring career.

“It was great,” Rosado said of his initial experience with acting. “I got into acting class and then the next thing you know, this opportunity (Creed) presents itself. One of the choreography guys from the movie said that I would be perfect for the role. (And said) I’m going to hook you up with the producer and the director. I’m thinking this guy is just Hollywood talk. So, I gave him my number, but I’m not even believing the guy.”

However, it turned out that the guy wasn’t all talk after all.

“A week later, I get a call from the production,” Rosado said. “I met up with the studio and I met the director (Ryan Coogler) and I met (the star) Michael B. Jordan. We talked and we hit it off, and just like that I got the part. So it was pretty crazy.”

Rosado fans will be happy to see that his part in Creed is far from a walk on.

“I think I got a really good role in the movie,” Rosado said. “A lot of people probably thought that I’d just be in a quick scene, but the movie gave me some shine in the light, and it was great.”

Rosado even experienced some surprise perks of the acting profession.

“Guess who I sat next to at the premiere?” Rosado asked. “Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was crazy.” 

The attention that Rosado is getting for acting, as well as the glowing reviews for the movie itself, must pull the fighter toward the glamour of the movie business.

“I think it’s a great movie,” Rosado said. “I think it’s as good as the first one (Rocky). You know, the first one stands alone. It’s a classic, but this one is really good. It was great to be a part of it. Eventually I want to take acting further and get more involved in it, but I definitely want to get a shot at the title.” 

They say that old habits die hard. This is especially true for boxers.

“I’m still dreaming about the title,” Rosado said. “If I wasn’t dreaming about the title, then I shouldn’t be in boxing. I still have dreams about it, and I think that this time around, in this camp, I feel the fire. I feel like how I felt back in 2012.” 

Rosado will need to tap that old fire to mount his own successful sequel.

“I feel strong,” Rosado said. “I feel confident. My conditioning is good. My diet is good. My intensity with Vargas is good. I’m sparring 12 rounds or 10 rounds, and they are not taking it light on me. They are not letting me dictate the camp. He (Vargas) is just taking charge. It’s making me feel how I felt back in 2012.” 

That was the year that everything looked like it was falling into place for Rosado. As good as he looked in 2012, Gabe didn’t win the title that time around. But remember, even Rocky fell short in the first movie.

So who knows? Maybe this time around Rosado will achieve his title dreams before moving on to his mission to become champion of the silver screen.




John DiSanto - Philadelphia - December 15, 2015