On Jan. 19, Gabriel Rosado (21-5, 13 KO) moves up from the junior middleweight division to take on WBA middleweight champion of the world Gennady Golovkin (24-0, 21 KO).
Rosado earned the right to face IBF junior middleweight champion Cornelius "K-9" Bundrage, but Rosado leaped at the chance to take a challenge not many fighters have been willing to take.
Golovkin, known for his extraordinary power and ruthlessness in the ring, is heavily favored to make Rosado the 22nd knockout of his career. Rosado and his trainer Billy Briscoe believe otherwise.
“Let’s be honest," Briscoe said in an interview with Bleacher Report. "People in modern day’s boxing, they see records and they get impressed. ‘Ah! This guy’s undefeated! Wow.’ The old timers teach you from day one when you step in the gym with them, 'don’t you ever let a man’s record and reputation beat you.’ If anything, you let the man beat you and you do everything in your power not to make that happen."
Rosado's trainer pointed to the old school as his guide for how he trains and how Rosado has improved as a fighter.
From how Sugar Ray Robinson set up the perfect left hook that took out Gene Fulmer in 1957 to how James Toney calmly picked shots as they came in the early 1990s, Briscoe said he's studied it all.
In watching the "old timers," Briscoe and Rosado don't just seek to emulate them, they adopt bits of knowledge and technique from various styles to incorporate in their own unique way.
"We’ll try to integrate that into a style and put our own twist on it," he said. "You can show 10 guys the same move and they all do it slightly differently.“
Training with Bernard Hopkins
Rosado and Briscoe have taken advantage of multiple opportunities to train alongside fellow Philadelphia native and future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins (52-6-2, 34 KO).
For five training camps, Rosado has not only soaked up knowledge from the legend, but he's had much of his teachings from Briscoe reaffirmed.
“You know I’m from the old-school train of thought," Briscoe said. "So I would show him a move...He believes in it, of course, but when he sees it being applied by a legend, it can’t help but hold more weight. It can’t help but reinforce what I was telling him was the real deal.”
Briscoe believes in staying active. Rosado's three-fight 2012 campaign saw Rosado at his sharpest, ending all three fights by knockout.
Following the Golovkin fight, Briscoe wouldn't mind if Rosado fought as many as five times this year.
He thinks a fighter can't be at his best fighting only once a year, though he understands how some, such as current pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather (43-0, 26 KO), may benefit more from fighting just once a year.
“Floyd Mayweather’s making so much money, it benefits him to fight maybe once a year," Briscoe said. "He can make more fighting once a year than most fighters make fighting four times a year. Why take the risk I guess? [But] I think if he were more active, he’d be a lot better of course, but the way he is now, he’s a gifted fighter.”
While Briscoe disagrees with Mayweather's long breaks, he agrees with the idea of Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KO) making a return to the ring in April for a tuneup before returning to the ring this September to avenge his previous loss to rival Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KO) in December.
Briscoe cited how when Sugar Ray Robinson lost to Jake LaMotta, he took a 10-round tuneup and then immediately rematched LaMotta all within a three-week period.
“You ever heard the saying, ‘if you get kicked off the horse, you got to get right back on the horse again?’" Briscoe said. “He’s trying to get that bad taste out of his mouth [from the loss]...I think they’re doing the right thing."
Building a Legacy After the Upset
Should Rosado defeat Golovkin, Briscoe said he wouldn't mind facing the likes of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-1-1, 32 KO) in Mexico or division king and WBC middleweight champ Sergio Martinez (50-2-2, 28 KO) in his native Argentina.
As much as Rosado and his trainer desire a world title, they won't just rest there on their way to creating a strong career.
"Some people win a world championship and get content," Briscoe said. "That’s where the problems start. We want to build a legacy, we want to unify all the titles at ’60, ’54 pounds, we’ll fight at both of those at the same time, Henry Armstrong. We’re trying to become pound-for-pound so 30 years from now, when they start talking about pound-for-pound the best of eras, Gabriel is mentioned.”
All quotes were obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.