PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                        October 26, 2013


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by John DiSanto
Photos by Ray Bailey


The second world title opportunity for Gabriel Rosado ended at 40 seconds of round ten on Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall before a noisy legion of supporters of the North Philly middleweight. Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin retained his WBO middleweight championship for the second time when referee Allan Huggins halted the competitive bout on advice from the ringside physician, Blair Bergen.

It was a heartbreaking end to a very competitive fight, and the stoppage sparked much disappointment and a fair bit of controversy for both the Rosado faction and boxing fans in general who wanted to see the entertaining fight reach a more natural conclusion. For nine rounds, Rosado gave Quillin plenty of trouble, staggering him at times and providing the toughest challenge of the "Kid's" one-year title reign.

At the time of the stoppage, Quillin had a lead in the bout, and there was no question that the cut suffered by Rosado was a bad one. However, the timing of the intervention felt misplaced. On my scorecard, Quillin was up by two points after nine rounds. With three rounds yet to go, there still seemed to be some question about the outcome of the fight.

A different referee may have given Rosado the chance to fight through the situation. In addition to the closeness of the fight, Rosado was not blinded by the flow of blood, and was on the attack when Huggins stepped in.

But before we go crazy with conspiracy theories, we shouldn't lose track of the fact that the cut was extremely bad. If Rosado had been allowed to fight on, perhaps he would have been injured permanently. The ref and doctor are supposed to concern themselves with the fighter's safety first. On this night, they took the safer route. It protected Rosado, but it ended his spirited title try. What a heartbreaker it was.

The drama was intensified by the fact that Rosado wanted nothing more than to continue fighting. This was his shot at the belt, and who knows if such a chance will come again. Gaby pleaded with both the referee and the doctor to allow him to fight on, both before and after the bout was stopped, but the fight came to an end anyway, early in round ten.

Quillin jumped out to an early lead in the fight, winning the first three rounds and scoring a knockdown in round two with a strong left hook. Rosado jumped to his feet and eagerly returned to the battle. The bout progressed with Quillin relying on his left hook while Rosado mostly used his overhand right. They traded during the early going, but Quillin took the lead. 

In round four, Rosado began making his stand in the fight. In a very good round, Rosado wobbled Quillin with a right hand and then hurt him again with left uppercut. But the round was winding down, and Rosado ran out of time to capitalize on his attack. Another right hand by Rosado punctuated the round, but Quillin was still standing.

Rosado resumed his attack in the fifth. The difference in these middle rounds was that Rosado was pressing hard, and Quillin was backing up. The tide seemed to be shifting Rosado's way. 

Once again Rosado's rights did some damage in the new round, while Quillin's left hook kept him competitive. But then Rosado stopped punching and started clowning. Gaby put his left hand behind his back and later swirled a bolo punch.

He may have been trying to send the champion a message, but additional damaging punches would have made a much stronger point. The crowd however, loved the display of bravado. 

A confident Rosado also took the sixth round on my card. Quillin was landing too but Rosado had the edge. The seventh was closer, and tough to score. The fighters traded late and the fight was suddenly the back and forth punch-out that some had predicted.

Quillin rebounded in the eighth round. His left hook was back in action and he mixed in an effective right uppercut as well. During that round, Rosado was still the aggressor, but had trouble letting his hands go. Quillin picked his shots and took the round.

The whole fight came down to the ninth round. Rosado was busier than the previous round, and the fighters took turns landing shots. But this was no reckless brawl. The action was more like a dangerous chess match.

Both fighters were landing well, with Rosado still applying most of the pressure. Then with just 11 seconds remaining in the round, Quillin landed a sharp left jab that crashed into Rosado's face. The entire round, and  ultimately the result of fight, turned on that single punch. Quillin's jab sliced Rosado above the left eye, apparently reopening the wounds suffered in his January fight with Gennady Golovkin.

Everything changed in that moment. Quillin snapped the jab, and Rosado was left dripping like a rare steak. As it turned out, the fight was about to end.

The blood throbbed out of the cut in two thick streams, and ran down the side of Gaby's face. He never reacted.  Like a warrior, Rosado kept pressing in the final few seconds before the bell sounded. 

In the corner, both the referee and doctor took a hard look at the gaping cut. They decided the fighter was able to continue. Trainer and cut man Billy Briscoe worked on the gash, and seemed to stem the flow. However, Rosado was sent out to fight in the tenth with a face full of residual blood form the prior round. One wonders if moments later when the action resumed, that bloody face misled the anxious and relatively inexperienced referee.

Quillin and Rosado restarted their clash, but before you knew it, referee Huggins interrupted the action and brought Gaby back to the corner for another medical review. After a brief look, Dr. Blair Bergen suggested that Huggins stop the fight. Despite Rosado's plea for more time, the fight ended right there, and Quillin, 30-0, 22 KOs, was declared the winner. Rosado slid to 21-7, 13 KOs, 1 No Decision.

As I said before, this ending was a heartbreak, but it appeared that a heartbreak was destined to happen even without the cut.

Going into the fight, most believed that Rosado would need a knockout to overcome any bias for the popular and heavily favored (8-1) champion. The official scores proved that pre-fight notion to be true.

When the judges cards were released, they showed that Rosado was hopelessly behind in the fight. Judge Ron McNair turned in a reasonable 87-83 score that favored Quillin after the nine completed rounds. Waleska Roldan managed to give Rosado a just single round on his 89-81 card. But judge Kason Cheeks took the cake with his 90-80 shutout score for Quillin. Crazy scores to be sure.

Rosado needed a knockout to win this fight, and it did not appear that the bout was on such a course. He was pressing hard in the close fight, but we can't say that Peter Quillin was going anywhere. Rosado had stronger knockout chances earlier in the bout and Kid Chocolate survived.

Of course, we'll never know for sure, and now Rosado and trainer Billy Briscoe are stuck with thinking about what might have been if Gaby was allowed to continue fighting. 

We don't know what that scenario would have brought, but we do know that Gabriel Rosado fought well and made a good showing against one of the top middleweights in the world. No surprise there. His stock did not deflate with the TKO loss, but he will need to rebuild his way to another title shot.

So Gabriel Rosado and Billy Briscoe must return to the same hard road they came in on. It is a road they are used to, but now they have a few more clues that their trip may eventually pay off. A few years ago, who would have thought they'd be in this position? They found their way off the hard road a few times, and now must look for yet another exit that leads to their dream of a world championship. 

It's been long and difficult road, but the ride has been exciting, dramatic, and unforgettable.






John DiSanto - Atlantic City - October 26, 2013
Photos by Ray Bailey