The vision would course through Jeison Rosario’s mind during his routine walks from his home to the gym. What if, he would ruminate as he trudged head down on the Santo Domingo dirt roads, he was not bogged down by the minutiae of daily life? How good could he really be? What if, he thought, he had the time to spar, and had a nutritionist, and a strength coach? How far could he really go in boxing?
World champions have those good things. Thoroughbreds get special treatment. Not also-rans.
There was one agitating drive that permeated Rosario. He knew he was more. He just needed the chance to show it.
Last May, he got it.
For the first time in his career, the 25-year-old super welterweight from the Dominican Republic had his first training camp. The result: An upset victory in January over Julian “J-Rock” Williams by fifth-round knockout in Philadelphia to capture the WBA and IBF super welterweight titles.
The bonus: A historic world title unification fight with WBC 154-pound world champion Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo this Saturday night on SHOWTIME pay-per-view (7PM ET/4PM PT).
This is just the eighth world title unification fight in the 154-pound division’s history. It is also just the second fight with three super welterweight world title belts up for grabs when Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs) meets Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) on the PPV doubleheader.
The companion card will be headlined by undefeated WBC World Middleweight Champion Jermall Charlo, Jermall’s twin, matched against challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko.
Attached to the Rosario-Charlo card will be Luis Nery taking on Aaron Alameda for the vacant WBC world bantamweight title and former champions Daniel Roman and Juan Carlos Payano in a WBC world super bantamweight title eliminator.
A few years ago, Rosario may not have been involved in any of this. At least not until he got the chance to prove what he could do—with a full training camp and preparation.
Before that, Rosario was bursting with all of this talent, all of this ability and couldn’t fully prepare for the looming tests ahead. It gnawed at him. While title contenders led regimented lives engaged in quality sparring and running on level roads, Rosario was trotting dusty paths, changing diapers and taking out the trash.
“Jeison would fight absolutely without a training camp—and was winning,” said Rosario’s trainer, Luis “Chiro” Perez, who’s been working with Rosario for the last 18 months. “I thought Jeison would need a little extra to bring out his talent. His previous camps would consist of training, then going back to his house in the Dominican Republic.
“He had no conditioning coach, no nutritionist. He would train, then go back to his wife and kids. That was it. But if you’re a world champion, that’s not really a way to train. It’s why we did a full 16-week training camp for Williams, and we’ve done it again for Charlo.
“We still haven’t seen the best of Jeison Rosario. He’s now really working the way he’s supposed to.”
According to Perez, Rosario is downright frightening, stronger than he was for the Williams fight. His body has adjusted to the punishment of training camp. He misses his three children, two boys and a girl who range in age from 4 to six months but has overcome the separation from his family.
Rosario embraces being pushed.
His preparation can be heard and felt. Grunts and the whomp, whomp, whomp of the heavy bag emanate from the Payne Boxing Facility, in Pompano Beach, Florida, where Rosario trains.
“Jeison’s main motivation are his children, it’s why he’s making the sacrifices he does now,” Perez said. “Jeison is ready for this fight. For the first time, Charlo will be fighting someone who is as strong as he is, if not stronger.
“Jeison has heavier hands than Charlo. The last training camp he had to get used to the punishment, and this version of Jeison is smarter and stronger than the J-Rock fight.”
Rosario feels filled with a new level confidence.
“I always had confidence in myself, but I think because of the training camp, I have that much more faith in myself,” Rosario said. “I’m coming with my best. I’ve always been a confident man, a confident fighter, and now I can say I’m going into a fight 100-percent, which is something I don’t think I could have said before.”
Rosario stressed that he has respect for Charlo. But he stopped short of saying he does not plan on giving the WBC titlist too much respect. He feels he can hurt the fighter from Houston, Texas.
“I’m definitely coming at Charlo stronger than I did in the J-Rock fight,” Rosario said. “I’m going to be a completely different fighter than what people saw in the J-Rock fight.
“I’m still learning new things. You will see a better Jeison Rosario. Even after the Charlo fight, you will see an even better Jeison Rosario. I have a vision. I know what I can do. A lot of the world doesn’t.
“They’re going to see.”