Rosado has stopped five of his last six opponents (Photo by Chris Toney).
Philadelphia Native Continues Dominant Run Through Junior Middleweight Division
Junior middleweight Gabriel Rosado (21-5, 13 KOs) methodically broke down veteran Charles Whittaker (38-13-2, 21 KOs) over 10 rounds on Friday night, eventually finishing the show with a thunderous 10th round to earn a title shot at IBF Champion Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage (32-4, 19 KOs). The loss was the first for Whittaker in over eight years, also continuing a dominant seven-bout winning streak for the explosive Rosado.
“Charles Whittaker, he’s a warrior,” Rosado said after the win, which aired live on the NBC Sports Network’s Fight Night. “He came to fight. The man’s a champion. I’ve got nothing but respect for him. I wanted to make a statement today, to show the world that I’m ready for any 154-pounder in the division. I wanted to make a statement today. I fought a game fighter that hasn’t lost in nine years, and I wanted to make a statement cause I want that dude, Canelo Alvarez.”
After looking to close the distance on Whittaker throughout the opening frame, Rosado began turning up the volume in the second round. He was the clear aggressor who continually came forward, landing the first clean shot of the bout when he fired off a flush overhand right that backed up his opponent midway through the frame. His comfort level continued to increase as the fight progressed, despite the apparent calm and disciplined demeanor that his opponent was displaying.
In the waning moments of the fourth round, Rosado was able to lure in Whittaker for close-range engagement, with both fighters banging out to the bell. The aggression of Rosado began paying heavier dividends in the ensuing frame, and he scored the first knockdown of the scrap when he responded to a lazy left jab from Whittaker. After the Cayman Islands native slowly threw the lead hand in his direction, Rosado fired off a furious left hook that sent his opposition to the canvas.
Rosado kept his rapid pace as the action continued, and he was able to put his counterpart back on the floor in the seventh round. Early in the frame, Whittaker looked to set up a shot, and he was greeted with a hard right hand that buckled his legs and had him facing another eight-count. To his credit, the gritty veteran did all he could to make it a fight, but he was just overmatched by his younger and more powerful opponent.
The curtains were finally closed on this affair after the bell rang to get the 10th round underway. Rosado first landed a straight right hand that he followed up with a left hook that sent his opposition to the canvas for a third time. With the bout seemingly in hand and blood clearly in the water, Rosado went in for the kill. He walked Whittaker into the corner and began pounding him with punches from all angles, peppering a flurry until a fourth trip to the floor forced referee Steve Smoger to step in and stop the fight. The official time of the stoppage was at the 1:50 mark.
“I want any champion,” Rosado confirmed after issuing the fifth knockout in his last six bouts. “I deserve my shot. I came up the hard, old school, Philadelphia way. Nothing was given to me. If it ain’t K-9, I want Canelo Alvarez.”
With the win, Rosado claimed the number one contender ranking in the IBF, and Bundrage has been ordered to defend his IBF Championship against him within the next six months.
In other main card action at this show, which took place at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev (19-0-1, 17 KOs) absolutely dismantled Lionell Thompson (12-2, 8 KOs) in three rounds, and welterweight Ronald Cruz (17-1, 12 KOs) was shocked by Antwone Smith (22-4-1, 12 KOs) for the first loss of his professional career.