Gabriel Rosado has seen it all in the sport. Almost nothing that happens in the ring would be a surprise.
Which makes Saturday’s clash against Bektemir Melikuziev more compelling. Despite being in the downside of his career, can he again pull off another upset win over Melikuziev and prove the first fight was not a fluke?
The answer will play out at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada as Melikuziev will attempt to avenge his loss to Rosado. The 10-round bout will be part of the undercard action preceding the main event bout between Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia (Showtime Pay-Per-View, 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).
Rosado (26-16-1, 15 knockouts), who is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and now lives and trains in Los Angeles, scored a vicious, one-punch knockout win over Melikuziev in June 2021. An overhand right dropped Melikuziev face-first to the canvas.
Since then, Rosado has lost his last three fights. In his most recent outing on September 17, the 37-year-old lost by unanimous decision to Ali Akhmedov, who is ranked No. 10 by The Ring at 168 pounds.
Rosado was scheduled to fight former WBO world light heavyweight titleholder Gilberto Ramirez on March 18 in Long Beach, California on a Golden Boy Promotions card, but the fight was cancelled after Ramirez missed weight by over seven pounds. The California State Athletic Commission refused for the fight to go forward.
Melikuziev (11-1, KOs), who is originally from Uzbekistan and now resides in Indio, California, has won his last four bouts, including his last bout on January 28, a knockout win over Ulises Sierra. Rosado, a consummate professional, is prepared for any version of the southpaw Melikuziev. Rosado is confident he can secure another win over Melikuziev, whether by knockout or decision.
“First fight, I set him up with a good overhand right,” Rosado told The Ring in a recent interview. “Going into this fight, the only reason why I agreed to the rematch and why it was worth it, was just because it’s a big card. I was already in shape. (I was) ready to fight (Gilberto) ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez. And then that fight fell through with ‘Zurdo’ not making weight. I was ready to go. I was ready to fight. Golden Boy presented this fight. I felt it was a good card and I was ready to fight.
“I’m not sure what he’ll do. My job is to focus on what I need to do. I’ve seen a couple of his last fights. I feel like he does the same thing, over. So I don’t know if you can change the past overnight. But I give him props for taking the rematch, being that the loss was so devastating. I’m not focused on what he’s doing. I’m going to do my job and be ready.”
The impact of the knockout was devastating as the fight was stopped immediately after Melikuziev fell face-first to the canvas. Rosado wonders if Melikuziev psychologically has indeed put the fight behind him, or if he would have any lingering thoughts from the fight going into the rematch.
“I think it’s hard to forget about that (knockout),” said Rosado, who has wins over Jesus Soto Karass, Joshua Clottey, and once-beaten Antonio Gutierrez Velazquez. “He knows it’s a devastating knockout. It’s a unique kind of knockout. We will see what he’s made of. I’m not going to go into the fight thinking that I’m going to have it easy because of what I did the first time. I’m still going to be prepared and ready for anything.”
Despite his recent setbacks, Rosado believes he can still contend and be successful in the ring.
Rosado has made time to appear in projects outside the ring, including landing a role in the first “Creed” movie. Even as there may be a perception that he still does not have it, Rosado wants to show he can improve and can win fights.
“What I want to do is show a little more activity, as far as punches,” said Rosado. “(I would like) to pick up the pace. I’m in good shape. I was ready for the ‘Zurdo’ fight. It fell off, but good thing I stayed in the gym and then this opportunity presented itself. I just want to show more volume of punches in this fight.”
Rosado also counts on the experience and wisdom of trainer Freddie Roach. While Roach may not be in his corner Saturday night, Rosado believes the game plan against Melikuziev will lead to a victory.
“Freddie is a Hall of Famer. He doesn’t have to yell. He doesn’t have to do any of that. He tells me what he feels. I take it to heart. He’s not going to be in my corner (Saturday) because he will be in the U.K. with his champion (IBF world junior lightweight titleholder Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov). We’re doing the camp and we will have (trainer) Marvin (Somodio) in my corner and Danny Davis. I’ve been working with them for years.
“We have a great game plan.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]