Middleweight Gabriel Rosado, with former two-time junior middleweight titleholder Fernando Vargas working as his trainer for the first time, outfought former welterweight titlist Joshua Clottey to win a unanimous decision in a spirited fight on Saturday night on the Luis Ortiz-Bryant Jennings undercard at the Turning Stone Resort Casino.
Clottey (39-5, 22 KOs) fought well early but Rosado (22-9, 13 KOs), in his first fight in a year, came on strong to win 97-93, 97-93 and 96-94 and end a five-fight winless streak.
Rosado came into the fight having gone 0-4 with a no decision since 2012 in official boxing matches, including stoppage losses in world title fight against Gennady Golovkin and Peter Quillin, although he went 1-0-1 in unofficial Big Knockout Boxing bouts.
“It has been more than a year since I have been in the ring so I did feel a little I the rust but I feel like this fight really helped me shake it off,” Rosado said.
“Clottey is a tough opponent, former world champion, definitely a challenge for me in my first fight back but I think that training with Fernando really helped me. I listened to him, made sure to do what he told me and focused on my hand speed.” Vargas was happy with his new pupil’s performance in the fight that was contracted at 158 pounds to accommodate the smaller Clottey.
“Gabriel gave everyone a great performance,” Vargas said. “This was our first training camp together and I think we are going to keep growing an make great fights together.” In the opening round referee Benjy Esteves Jr. warned Rosado, 29, of Philadelphia, for hitting Clottey behind the head and then Clottey went down when Rosado caught him with an accidental elbow in the second round and Esteves gave him time to recover.
Clottey, 38, a Ghana native who fights out of New York, beat Rosado to the punch and was landing clean shots, including with a solid uppercut. By the third round Rosado had swelling under his left eye.
Rosado, with a starring role in the new Rocky movie “Creed,” turned it around. He got busier and began to force Clottey backward with a series of good right hands and body shots.
He seemed to have Clottey in a bit of trouble early in the eighth round after landing several blows. Esteves warned Clottey for landing a low blow in the ninth round that angered Rosado, who also had swelling around his right eye.
With the fight seemingly very close going into the 10th round, they both came out firing but Rosado won the round as he backed Clottey up and landed the cleaner punches.
“I think that I delivered an entertaining fight tonight and I was happy with my performance,” Rosado said.
“I have great respect for Joshua Clottey. He is a great fighter and African warrior. I am ready for my next big challenge. I would like a shot at [middleweight champion] Canelo [Alvarez] next.”
Clottey, who moved up in weight to make the fight, said he would return to junior middleweight. “This was an off night for me,” Clottey said.
“I do think that the fans enjoyed the fight. We are both fighters that do not like to back down. However, I don’t feel comfortable at this weight class; I want to go back down to 154 and continue to fight at junior middleweight.”