Who the Heck Are You, Luis El Zurdo Rosario?
I recently sat down with Luis Saul “El Zurdo” Rosario, a tough featherweight who made his professional boxing debut in 2013. He boasts an impressive professional record of 13-1-1, 8 KOs.
Rosario and I discussed his accomplished amateur career and his journey through the professional ranks. He talked about his only professional loss and what we can expect from him in 2021.
Please enjoy this Q n A with Rosario, a 28-year-old native of Puerto Rico.
JR: Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to talk with me. For the fans that may not know you outside of Puerto Rico, please take a few minutes and tell us about who you are and how you started your boxing career.
LR: My name is Luis Saul Rosario. I was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, but I currently reside in Cirda, Puerto Rico. In the boxing community, I'm known as “El Zurdo” (The Lefty). I was given the name “El Zurdo” when I first started boxing because I was the only left-handed boxer in the gym at the time. When I was young, I watched boxing and was around it, but I didn’t start boxing until I was 14 years old. Before that, I used to play baseball. My dad signed me up for baseball because I wasn’t doing anything during my free time, but I was not too fond of baseball. One day my dad invited me to go with him to a boxing gym. Initially, I didn't want to go because I just wanted to hang out and play with my friends; however, I reluctantly went with him. I went to the gym two days in a row, and on the second day, they threw me in the ring to spar, and at that moment, I decided this is what I wanted to do.
JR: What was your experience like in the amateurs? Which fight or which fighter would you consider your toughest test in the amateurs?
LR: I fought approximately 190 fights during my time as an amateur boxer. I finished with a record of 160 wins and 30 losses. I fought against world-class and Olympic-level fighters, and I've beaten world-class and Olympics fighters. My most brutal fight was during an international tournament. The tournament's name is the “Batalla de Carabobo,” and it takes place in Valencia, Venezuela. I had to fight against William Encarnacion, who represented the Dominican Republic in the 2012 Olympic games. It was my fourth fight of the tournament. I fought him in the final match, and I beat him to win the gold medal.
JR: Tell me about the time you decided to turn pro. What were the events leading up to that decision?
LR: In 2011, I joined the National Boxing Team of Puerto Rico. In 2012 I represented Puerto Rico and won several medals. Also, in 2012 I tried out for the Olympic trials, and I didn’t qualify. Some things took place that I disapproved of, and I was starting to get tired of the Puerto Rico Boxing Federation. In 2013 I went to a tournament for a qualifier, and somethings happened that left a bad taste in my mouth; at the moment, I was part of Jose “Sniper” Pedraza's team. Shortly after, my trainer asked me if I was ready to turn professional. Also, from the time I started boxing, my dream was to become a professional and win a world title. These were the two main reasons that led me to pull the trigger and turn professional in 2013.
JR: Who is your trainer, and what is the gym's name where you are currently training?
LR: Currently, my trainer is Raul Rosado. He has been my trainer for two years, and we were training at Miguel Cotto’s gym located in the city of Caguas. We have a great relationship, and besides being my boxing coach, he is also my friend. He's a responsible and very disciplined coach.
JR: Tell me about your training regimen. How do you prepare for fights?
I am very serious about my profession, and I am very self-disciplined. Boxing shaped me into who I am today. Boxing pulled me away from some things that could have negatively impacted my life. Boxing is sacred to me; it's a way of life that I take seriously. My training regimen is rigid, disciplined, and strict. When I go to the gym, it's time to work; I don't go to play or horse around. My trainer has the same work ethic as I.
JR: What do you consider your boxing style? What do you think your greatest asset is, and what can the fans expect to see when they attend a Luis Rosario fight?
LR: When people see me and interact with me, they don't think that I am a professional boxer. When they see me in the ring, I'm a different person. I transform, and I am not scared of anything. I'm aggressive, and I come to fight. I don't follow a specific style. I am very versatile in the ring. I can box and be a technical fighter when I need to, or I can brawl when I have to. I can adapt to any fighter. In seconds, I can analyze a fighter and quickly make the necessary adjustments during a fight. When the fans come to see me fight, they can expect an action-packed fight. Even though I fight aggressively, I'm not careless. I'm an aggressive fighter that boxes and throws 3-4 punch combinations with technicality. Actually, because of my bold style of fighting, we are working more on my defense. We are trying to be more calculated in our offense and when to turn on the aggressiveness. But I like to get in there and brawl, it's how I like to fight, and it's how I define myself as a fighter.
JR: In your professional career, your only loss was to Stephen Fulton. Tell me about that fight and how you are a better fighter since that loss?
LR: In October 2015, I fought Aaron Hollis on a card for Showtime. He was undefeated and fought out of Adrien Broner's camp. It was a fight that many considered a high-risk fight for me. However, I was in great shape, and I knocked him out in the fourth round. During that fight, I suffered a fracture in my jaw. Shortly after, in November, I tore the meniscus in my left knee. Without allowing myself time to heal, I took a fight in January 2016, which I felt pressured to accept. In 2017 they offered me the Stephen Fulton fight. I had been inactive for more than a year, so it was a wrong decision for me to take that fight. It wasn’t a bad fight; it was just not the right time, and I wasn't mentally ready to take on that fight. I fought well, but I didn’t feel like myself during the fight. It wasn’t the “Zurdo” Rosario that I have described during this interview. Because of the injuries I sustained before this fight, I wasn’t mentally focused, and I was unsure of myself. What I learned from that fight was how to make better decisions for my career. Boxing is a business, and I have to know when to make the right decisions. Making the wrong decisions in boxing can harm your career. After that fight, I have a better understanding of boxing's business aspects, and I know how to make better decisions about my career moving forward.
JR: You've been a pro for six years. Your most active year was 2015; you fought four times that year. You didn’t fight at all in 2020. What is the reason for your inactivity?
LS: We had a solid plan for the year 2020. I was supposed to fight in March of 2020, and if I won that fight, we had a world title qualifier set up for that summer. If I won, I would’ve been ranked in the top 15 within the WBC or the WBA. When Covid happened, the fight in March was canceled, and it derailed the whole plan. Top Rank offered me a fight in August of 2020. I was given too short of notice to take that fight, and I wasn’t prepared to take the fight.
JR: During this period of inactivity, do you keep yourself in shape? If you had to fight right now, would you be in fighting form to get in the ring?
LS: I couldn’t get in the ring immediately because I would have to make the weight. But since the pandemic, I have stayed in shape. Like I stated earlier, boxing, for me, is a lifestyle. Boxing is my profession; this is what I do. So, I treat boxing like any other job. I get up every day like I was going to a regular job and go to the gym and train. I train Monday through Saturday and rest on Sundays. I rarely take long periods of rest. Even when I fight, if I fought on a Saturday, Monday I'm back doing road work and training. Right now, I could take a fight with one month’s notice because I'm continually training.
JR: Every fighter I talk to has a boxing idol. Past or present, who is your boxing idol?
LS: There are so many fighters I look up to and admire. However, my boxing idol is Manny Pacquiao. He’s my idol because he’s a warrior; he leaves it all in the ring. But he stood out to me during the Juan Diaz fight. During the post-fight interview, he was very humble. Pacquiao was nice to everyone. He socialized with anyone that was present and didn’t make anyone feel inferior to him. I was a kid when his character outside the ring had a significant impact on me. Here's a guy who just got done demolishing his opponent, and when he left the ring, he was so humble and respectful. It left a lasting impression on me, and he is someone that I strive to emulate.
JR: What are your goals for 2021, and what do you want to achieve in boxing ultimately?
LS: In 2021, I hope to fight and win enough fights to be ranked within the top 15 in any sanctioning body. By the end of this year or early next year, I want to start fighting the kind of fights that will qualify me to earn a shot at a world title match. Ultimately my goal is to be a world champion.
My Take: Luis “El Zurdo” Rosario is a talented boxer-puncher who can shake things up in the featherweight division. He takes an institutionalized attitude to his profession, and he has little to no room for anything else in his life other than boxing. His only professional loss is to Stephen Fulton, who just recently won the WBO Super Bantamweight title. In recent days, Rosario informed me that he has wholly moved his training camp from Puerto Rico to Miami under trainer Pedro Diaz's instruction. Pedro Diaz was instrumental in preparing Miguel Cotto for his rematch against Antonio Margarito, for those that may have forgotten. This move is one that can pay huge dividends in Luis Rosario's pursuit of a world title fight. Luis Rosario is taking the necessary steps to reinvigorate a career that has gone stale due to injuries and the pandemic. If he can win fights, avoid injuries, and follow the plan he and his team have laid out for 2021, Luis Rosario can very well compete and challenge for a world title within the next couple of years.