VERONA, N.Y. -- 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."
Light heavyweight Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and Yunieski Gonzalez engaged in a hard-hitting, action-packed fight that Shabranskyy won by majority decision.
Shabranskyy won 98-92 and 97-93 while one judge scored the fight 95-95.
It was an action-packed fight that really ignited in the third round when Shabranskyy ripped Gonzalez with a combination on the ropes that had him in some trouble before Gonzalez came back and then they ended the round in toe-to-toe exchange that had the crowd cheering. They went back and forth throughout the fight but Shabranskyy was getting the better of Gonzalez, who suffered his second loss in a row.
"I feel great. This fight is the most important and most exciting fight of my career," Shabranskyy said. "I did feel a lot of Gonzalez's punches but I also feel like I hurt him, especially in the last round. He was beginning to sway. If I had a little more time I feel I would have knocked him out. I am very happy to have won and now on to celebrate the holidays and have some ice cream."
Gonzalez, 30, a Cuban defector living in Miami, was coming off a heavily disputed 10-round decision loss to former light heavyweight world champion Jean Pascal on July 25 in Las Vegas. Most ringside media had Gonzalez winning in what was his first notable fight and he was the heavy favorite against Shabranskyy.
Shabranskyy, 28, a Ukraine native living in Los Angeles, was the underdog mainly because although he scored a third-round knockout of Paul Parker in June, the unknown Parker knocked him down twice in the first round and nearly ended the fight.
But Shabranskyy (15-0, 12 KOs) showed a very good chin as he took some bombs from Gonzalez (16-2, 12 KOs).
"I knew that this was going to be a war and that is what we delivered," Gonzalez said. "We both gave it our all and didn't let up. I knew that I needed to knock him out to win this fight but he was more resilient than I thought and didn't open up enough for the knockout to happened. I did know the fight was very close and should have been a draw in my opinion. I would like the opportunity to fight him again and prove that I am the better fighter."
Referee Richard Pakozdi warned Gonzalez for landing a low blow late in the seventh round, after which he and Shabranskyy engaged in an extended exchange. They both landed huge punches, although Shabranskyy rocked Gonzalez with a right hand at the bell.
The 10th round was another terrific round that they closed in another toe-to-toe exchange, although Shabranskyy rocked Gonzalez. Golden Boy vice president Eric Gomez liked what he saw from Shabranskyy.
"He's willing to fight anybody. If Andre Ward wants to take that fight we'll do it," Gomez said of the former super middleweight champion who is moving up to light heavyweight and in need of an opponent. "We'll talk to Peter Nelson (of HBO) and see what he wants to do but he will fight anybody."
Lightweight Yuriorkis Gamboa, fighting for only the fourth time since 2013 and for the first time in 13 months, looked sharp in a unanimous decision victory against Hylon Williams.
Gamboa, who turns 34 on Wednesday, won 98-92, 98-92 and 96-94 that appeared to be every bit the wide scoring of the first two judges.
"It feels good to be back in the ring," Gamboa said. "I feel that all the hard paid off. I was faster and stronger in the ring. I know I dominated the action tonight. I made sure he knew I was in control from the first round. Once I established control I let him run around."
Former unified featherweight titleholder Gamboa (25-1, 17 KOs) came to the ring having had to borrow a protective cup because he forgot to bring one but he still toyed with Williams for most of the fight as he fired fast punches with a two-handed attack Williams had little answer for. He snapped his head back time and again with powerful shots and when Gamboa, a 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist who defected and lives in Miami, connected in the seventh round the best Williams could muster was to smile at him and make a face.
"I am not upset that this fight went all 10 rounds, in fact I am glad because I know everyone was able to see my power," Gamboa said. Williams (16-2-1, 3 KOs), 25, of Houston, landed his share of punches but has very little power and Gamboa did not seem troubled when he got hit.
"I felt good about the pace of the fight," said Williams, who was fighting for the second time this year after a three-year layoff. "I know I hurt him a few times but I am fine. I don't feel hurt at all. I think this fight should have gone my way. I feel I was ahead."
In all-Puerto Rican match, middleweight Steven Martinez (16-2, 13 KOs) destroyed chin-challenged Jorge Melendez (28-6-1, 26 KOs) in the second round. Martinez dropped Melendez with a left hook and finished him moments later when referee Benjy Esteves Jr. stepped into wave it off at 1 minute, 33 seconds. It was the fourth time in his six defeats that Melendez has been stopped.
Temple Hills, Maryland, super middleweight prospect D'Mitrius Ballard (11-0, 7 KOs) shut out Philadelphia's Fabian Pena (11-4-1, 8 KOs), winning 60-54 on all three scorecards.