Rosado and Whittaker will clash at Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (Photo by Chris Toney).
Winner Claims Top IBF Junior Middleweight Ranking, Title Shot
Things have certainly not come easily for junior middleweight Gabriel Rosado (20-5, 12 KOs), but the resilient Philadelphia native has overcome plenty of adversity to now find himself a single win of a world championship crack. Standing in the way of the third ranked IBF contender is number two placeholder Charles Whittaker (38-12-2, 21 KOs), whom he will meet at Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Friday night as part of the NBC Sports Network’s Fight Night Series.
"It's a great opportunity again to be in the main event on NBC Sports Network," Rosado remarked. "I'm excited to showcase my skills nationally again. I've trained extremely hard. We finished up our last couple of weeks in camp in Phoenix, Arizona. Camp was great there, and I feel strong.”
Rosado has been on a tear over the past two years and is currently riding a six-bout winning streak. In fact, his sole blemish over the course of his past nine fights was a majority decision loss to Derek Ennis for the USBA Light Middleweight Championship. His past two outings have both been impressive knockouts, also in front of a national Fight Night television audience, stopping two very game opponents in Jesus Soto Karass and Sechew Powell. That kind of recent success brings him to the point he is now, and Rosado says he plans to take full advantage of the opportunity in front of him.
“I am not taking Charles Whittaker lightly,” he stated. “I expect him to bring his A-Game, and I'm ready for that. I want him to come with his A-Game because it will bring out the best in me. Russell (Peltz, co-promoter) said I am ranked number three, but after Friday I will be ranked number one. I feel like mentally and physically I will break him down. I will set him up in the early rounds, and I will take him out in the middle rounds. My plan is to get him out of there by the sixth round."
Hailing from the Cayman Islands, Whittaker now fights out of Miami. He has won his past 14 bouts and actually has just one loss over his past 25 fights. That run covers a period that spans over 12 years, but, with the way Rosado has been boxing as of late, he is likely facing the toughest opposition of his 52-bout career at Sands Casino.
"It's going to be a great fight," Whittaker confirmed. "Gabriel is young. I've seen a few of his fights. He comes hard, and he comes in shape. He says he is going to be number one, and I know I'm going to be number one after Friday. The fans are going to be the recipient of a great fight."
With the top ranking by the IBF, the winner of this contest has already been guaranteed a title shot against current champion Cornelius Bundrage of Detroit within six months.
Local Bethlehem resident Ronald Cruz (17-0, 12 KO's) also returns to the Fight Night broadcast on Friday evening, facing Miami native Antwone Smith (21-4-1, 12 KO's) in a welterweight scrap. In the swing bout, light heavyweight Russian Sergey Kovalev (18-0-1, 15 KO's) will meet Lionell Thompson (12-1, 8 KO's) of New York.