When J'Leon Love (15-0, 8 KO) and Gabriel Rosado (21-6, 13 KO) meet on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Robert Guerrero on Saturday night, it will be a pivotal fight in both fighters' careers.
Love is a 25 year old, up-and-coming middleweight, and Rosado is a more experienced 27 year old looking to position himself for more opportunities at 160 pounds.
Most of his career has been fought at 154 pounds.
Though the fight is for the vacant NABF middleweight title, the stakes are higher than that. This is the type of fight that will tell us ultimately what to make of both men as contenders.
The Mayweather-Guerrero card is stacked. Love vs. Rosado is just one of the many outstanding bouts on tap.
Here's how you can catch the event.
When: Saturday, May 4, 9 p.m. ET
Where: MGM Grand in Las Vegas
TV: PPV (Call your local cable or satellite provider)
Highlights of the Hype
Things Get a Little Testy at Press Conference
When the two hungry middleweights met at the center of the stage at the press conference, things got a little heated.
Once I heard the phrase: "You ain't bout that life," I couldn't really hear the rest over my own laughter. It felt like a high school cafeteria confrontation.
After I composed myself and went back to listen to the face-to-face trash talk session, there was nothing there out of the norm.
Still, these types of events add a little intrigue for the casual fan. Check out the video:
The Book on Rosado
Has He Peaked or Is He Ready for Another Run at a Title?
Rosado had an opportunity at a world title in his last fight. He was battered and out-classed by WBA champion Gennady Golovkin. Rosado's corner threw in the towel to save their very brave but overmatched fighter from further punishment in the seventh round.
Take a look at the final round.
Per John DiSanto of Fight News, Rosado was going to go back to 154 pounds after the loss to Golovkin, but none of the major contenders at that weight were available.
Instead, he decided to continue on at 160 pounds.
Rosado's toughness can never be questioned. But after such a lopsided loss against an elite fighter, one could question Rosado's confidence moving forward.
He certainly doesn't carry himself as though that would be an issue, but there can be a disconnect between swag and reality. We will found out early on Saturday if Rosado still believes he can compete against elite middleweights.
In this fight, he is the more established fighter. He must win to prove he deserves another run at a champion. If he falters against Love, it could send his career spiraling in the wrong direction.
In the Ring
Rosado has decent speed and good power with solid lateral and head movement. He bangs the body and head in tight quarters, but he suffers from defensive lapses.
It generally doesn't fail him when he has his opponent physically out-classed, but against top competition, the deficiency rears its head.
Because of his chin and heart, he is a tough fighter to finish. But big punchers who understand counter punching have given Rosado problems.
Early in his fights, you can usually tell the direction the fight is headed. When he's right and confident, he's aggressive early. Take a look at his most recent wins by KO:
When he's overmatched—as he was against Golovkin—he backs up far more often than he comes forward. Like most fighters, he isn't effective fighting that way.
The Book on Love
Is He Ready for the Gatekeeper?
Winning this fight would announce Love as a contender at middleweight. Up to now, he hasn't had a win over a fighter who would make him a serious threat.
Rosado represents a significant step-up in competition for Love. Perhaps Rosado appears ripe for the pickings after losing to Golovkin; or maybe he's just ready to kick his career into overdrive.
Either way, we will find out a lot about Love on Saturday night. He certainly has his doubters.
If he wins, his name will be mentioned as possible opponents for fighters like WBO champion Peter Quillin or Golovkin. If he loses, he may have to reboot and re-evaluate his plan toward pursuing a title.
In the Ring
Love appears shorter than 5'10" in the ring, primarily because he fights in a strong crouching stance.
He has a good jab, bangs the body well and has that quick-twitch explosion that you can't teach. Love has heavy hands, and very early in his professional career, he was simply plowing through opponents.
Here is a look at Love destroying Bryan Smith in the second round.
Lately, he's been successful, but he's had to show his boxing ability more. In his last fight with 5'6" powerhouse Derrick Findley, Love had to use his length and jab to out-box the shorter opponent.
He showed a different skill set in that fight, which speaks to his well-roundedness.
Against Rosado, taking his respect early will be the key. He needs to land a power shot or establish his jab to control the tempo.
It could lead to the biggest win of his career.
This is a tough fight to call, but I'm going to give Love a slight edge. Rosado's loss to Golovkin was demoralizing, and despite what he and his camp says, I'm not convinced he's totally committed mentally to middleweight.
Love has great physical tools, and he has become a more balanced fighter. He will stop Rosado in the middle rounds.
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