North Philly boxer makes triumphant return to familiar roots
Gabriel Rosado will be fighting back in his hometown for the first time in seven years.
Even as a young child, Gabriel Rosado was a fighter.
Born and raised in North Philadelphia — “the Badlands,” as many sections of the area is often called — Rosado learned early that he needed to be strong to survive.
“If you’re familiar with the streets of North Philly, you know it’s rugged, it’s raw,” he said during an interview with AL DÍA. “I just grew up being tough and, you know, fighting to get my respect.”
Rosado, 33, is part of the large community of Puerto Ricans who came up in the northern part of the city. While growing up in a tough outside environment, he also grew up in a family of huge boxing fans, as they’d often watch boxing together.
Rosado looked up to many fighters in the ring, such as Mike Tyson, Felix Trinidad, Evander Holyfield, and fellow Philadelphia native Bernard Hopkins.
“I just wanted to be like them,” he said.
For years, he studied each of his favorite fighters’ skills, techniques, styles, and movements around the ring, “but making it my own, adding my own flavor to it,” Rosado added.
After years of studying their film, while strengthening and honing his own craft, he eventually took to the ring at the age of 18.
A brief career of 11 fights in the amateurs saw Rosado compile an 8-3 record before he felt it was time to move up to the professional ranks.
On Jan. 13, 2006, one day before his 20th birthday, Rosado made his professional boxing debut, which resulted in a first round TKO win over Phil Hicklin.
Now more than 13 years later, Rosado has compiled a 24-11-1-1 record, with 14 KO victories.
When Rosado first made the decision to pursue a career as a professional boxer, he had two main goals: “Win world titles and make a lot of money,” he said with a hearty laugh.
While he’s done pretty well for himself to date, Rosado said he still has that hunger and motivation.
Rosado’s upcoming fight this Friday holds two important distinctions.
After having his first nine, and 13 of his first 24, professional fights in his hometown of Philadelphia, Rosado's last nine fights have all taken place outside of Pennsylvania, while his last 11 have all been outside of Philadelphia.
Rosado will step into the ring Friday evening and perform in front of his hometown fans for the first time since Jan. 21, 2012, where he earned a fifth round TKO victory over Jesús Soto Karass. His opponent this time around will be Polish boxer, Maciej Sulęcki (27-1, 11 KOs).
“He’s a respectful fighter, world class level, he’s nothing I’ve never seen before,” Rosado said of Sulęcki. “So, I expect it to be a great fight.”
He expanded on why he believes it’ll be a great fight.
“Winner gets a shot at the world title, so, it’s a lot at stake,” he said.
The winner of this bout is likely to go on to face WBO middleweight world champion Demetrius Andrade (27-0, 17 KOs) later this year. Rosado has had two previous shots at the world title in 2013, but both bouts ended in TKO losses. With stakes so high, and being champ at the top of his list of goals, Rosado doesn't want this opportunity to slip away. He especially doesn't want to let down his hometown fans.
"I'm excited," he proclaimed. "Ready to go, [to] take on the challenge in front of my fans, and everybody who comes out Friday."
The ‘Matchroom Championship Boxing’ card will take place on March 15, 2019, at the Liacouras Center, beginning at 5pm. The main card will be headlined by fellow Philly native Tevin Farmer (28-4-1, with 6 KOs) vs. Jono Carroll (16-0-1, with 3 KOs). The full card of matches can be found here. Viewers can watch live on DAZN, however, tickets are still available for purchase and be purchased here.