During Saturday night’s ESPN broadcasting of the Miguel Berchelt vs. Oscar Valdez mega-fight, boxing fans witnessed what could be Puerto Rico's next boxing sensation. Omar Rosario (3-0, 1 KO) made the most of his Las Vegas debut in an undercard match when he knocked-out Uriel Villanueva (1-1, 0 KO) in exceptional fashion, with a devastating left hook to the body.
I recently sat down with Omar Rosario and discussed his win against Villanueva, his career, and his plans for the rest of 2021.
Please enjoy this Q n A with Rosario, a 23-year-old native of Puerto Rico.
JR: Tell me about your beginnings in boxing.
OR: I started boxing when I was 7 years old. Miguel Cotto’s father took me to the gym at that age, and I've been boxing ever since. As an amateur, I had a record of 175-35. I was a six-time National Champion, and I represented Puerto Rico in various international tournaments; among them were the Central American Games and the Pan-American qualifiers. I learned a lot and gathered a lot of experiencing competing in these international tournaments that have prepared me for my transition to the professional ranks. I had a very successful amateur career, and now we are focused on fighting on cards similar to the one that I fought this past Saturday. My team and I enjoy the many blessings that God has bestowed on my professional and personal life.
JR: Were you a natural fighter? Growing up, did you fight a lot?
OR: I'm a very competitive person, and I love to compete. Boxing is a competitive sport that puts you in direct competition against someone else, it's you and your opponent alone in the ring, and that was something that captivated me. As a kid, I had a tremendous passion for boxing, and I still have that same passion for the sport today.
JR: Talk to me about your trainer and your relationship?
OR: My trainer is Joe Santiago. He is part of the Puerto Rican Boxing Federation and the Puerto Rican National Team coach. I have been training with him since I was 13-years-old . We have a great relationship, and we make a great team.
JR: What is your training regimen?
OR: I train Monday through Saturday. I do my roadwork in the morning. Then we transition to strength and conditioning workouts, and in the evenings, we work on boxing skills; a few days throughout the week, I spar.
JR: Do you have a team of sparring partners strictly dedicated to your development as a professional, or do you choose your sparring partners based on what you need to work on?
OR: We always use different sparring partners. Our gym has a variety of fighters to choose from. We have young prospects and outstanding amateurs, and we all spar each other and help each other out. We bring out the best in each other. Additionally, we go to other gyms and spar with various fighters to measure ourselves against different styles and leave our gym's comfort zone. This gets us ready to adjust to the different boxing styles and be ready to fight whichever style an opponent may bring into the ring.
JR: You are 3-0 with 1 KO. Your first knockout came against Uriel Villanueva. What adjustments did you make in this fight that allowed you to achieve your first KO?
OR: We didn't change our plan. Going into this fight, the plan was always what we've worked on, imposing my style, technique, and control of the fight's rhythm. I fought the same way in the two previous fights; the only difference was that the opponents could withstand the punishment. Therefore, we didn't achieve the knockout. In this last fight, my opponent succumbed to a body shot, and immediately I worked on finishing him off. However, we were ready to go all four rounds if we needed to. If he would've survived the body shot, I have the skills and the mental game needed to fight the additional rounds and get the victory.
JR: Regarding your boxing style, is it fair to say that your boxing game revolves around attacking the body first?
OR: Yes, since I was young, I always felt comfortable goings to the body. It is one of my strengths, as we were able to demonstrate on Saturday. The fans were able to see that my body attack is lethal. We are going to keep perfecting my attacks to the body as well to the head. It is important to have a balanced attack, and that's what we are working towards.
JR: What did you know about Uriel Villanueva before Saturday night? Did your prepare your fight plan specifically to target him in the manner that you did?
OR: We knew that he was an undefeated fighter. We were two young fighters looking to shine at this great opportunity presented to us on television. We knew that he was ready to fight and capitalize on this great opportunity. But I prepared well, I did see the fight he had before me, but I mostly focused on what I needed to do to win. I focus on getting better each day, and I know that if I focus 100 percent on getting myself prepared for a fight, no one will beat me.
JR: You looked very comfortable Saturday night and exuded a lot of confidence. You didn't seem to be bothered by the hype that surrounded this card, nor the venue. Also, you attacked your opponent aggressively when you saw him hurt. Tell me about your personality. Are you always as calm and confident as you looked on Saturday night?
OR: Yes, I’m very confident in my abilities. But above all, I'm confident that I have prepared well for every fight. I am the type of person that prepares very well. I take boxing very seriously; it's not a game to me. I give the maximum amount of effort during training camp. Every day I strive to be the best boxer I can be, so I carry myself with a lot of confidence. I need to be confident in my abilities. If I'm not confident about myself, how do I expect others to have confidence in me?
JR: Tell me about your outfit, your boxing trunks. It was evident that you’re proud to be Puerto Rican. I also noticed that you were wearing the number 21 in honor of Roberto Clemente. Why did you wear his number on your boxing trunks?
OR: I decided to dedicate this fight to Roberto Clemente and bring awareness to the campaign that is working hard to retire his number from Major League Baseball. Roberto Clemente is a great person to emulate.
He bought a lot of glories and honored the Puerto Rican people. Besides being an exceptional baseball player, he is equally recognized for dedicating his life to helping those in need. He died bringing aid to the people of Nicaragua. He's a great example for all athletes to follow. Athletes who become very successful should find ways to help people in need; I believe this is vital.
JR: Did you talk to Miguel Cotto after the fight? If so, what did the champ have to say to you? Is he a person who you seek advice from concerning your boxing career?
OR: Yes, we are from the same neighborhood. We crossed paths, and he congratulated me on the win. I was thrilled that he congratulated me because he has been my idol since I was a little boy. To congratulate me and know that he keeps up with my career meant a lot to me. When we do see each other, we don't talk about boxing. However, when I was a kid, he showed me many things that I still utilize today.
JR: What does Omar Rosario do when he’s not boxing?
OR: When I’m not boxing, I go to school. I am working on a bachelor’s degree in marketing. I'm in my last year and almost ready to graduate. I want to use this degree to help my boxing career by building my brand and image. Additionally, I think this will help me understand how to make investments and have my own business.
JR: Past and present, who is your boxing idol?
OR: Miguel Cotto is my idol, and he inspired me tremendously when I was a kid. My brother is also a great inspiration; he too was a boxer. He represented Puerto Rico, and when I saw him winning medals, it motivated me to keep training.
JR: Who in your life outside the ring is the greatest example of a warrior to you?
OR: My parents are my greatest example. They have always been there. They provided us with the best education possible. That have persevered through life, and thanks to them, I am where I am today.
JR: What does the rest of 2021 look like for team Rosario?
OR: For the rest of the year, the plan is to stay as active as possible. We want to keep boxing and winning important fights in the same fashion which we did on Saturday. Additionally, we want to continue to grow our fanbase with each fight. We want to keep developing and, with each fight, get closer to fighting for a world title. Additionally, I want to thank the fans that follow me. I want to thank my family and friends for all their love and support. For those that are just now getting to know me, I want them to keep an eye out for my fights, and we will give them plenty to talk about in the future. I want to bring glory to Puerto Rico, and I want all the fans to have fun following my career and my achievements.
My Take: Omar Rosario has all the makings to be a superstar in the sport of boxing. He’s confident, charismatic, intelligent, and more importantly, he can fight. These qualities, along with his boyish good looks and his million-dollar smile, are usually the recipe to achieve boxing superstardom. He’s a young man that is socially conscious and used Saturday’s night stage to bring awareness to a cause he and many others believe in. Besides making the necessary moves to advance his boxing career, the young fighter is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in marketing. This is a move that he says “will help further his boxing career and secure a living outside of boxing.” With only a few months to graduation, this is an endeavor very few fighters pursue. With only three fights under his belt, it is too soon to make any bold predictions about Omar Rosario's success within boxing. However, he is definitely aboard the train heading towards superstardom, and he gave the fans a lot to look forward to with his spectacular knockout victory over Uriel Villanueva.