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Gabriel Rosado will return Dec. 8 against Elvin Ayala with eye on title shot vs. Cornelius 'K9' Bundrage

Gabriel Rosado (right) won't wait for his mandatory title shot against Cornelius 'K9" Bundrage, preferring to take a keep-busy fight in the meantime. (AP)

Junior middleweight Gabriel Rosado, the mandatory challenger for IBF champion Cornelius "K9" Bundrage, will return to the ring on Dec. 8 against Elvin Ayala. Rosado-Ayala will be the co-main event for the card headlined by heavyweights Bryant Jennings and Bowie Tupou on NBC Sports Network.

In September, Rosado (21-5) earned the IBF’s No. 1 contender spot, knocking out Charles Whittaker. Rosado had hoped to land a shot at WBC 154-pound titleholder Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. However Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer told the Los Angeles Times this week that Alvarez preferred to sit out until May, and then would only fight Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather or Sergio Martinez.

While Bundrage does not have a fight scheduled, he is not required to face Rosado until Mar. 30. Rosado -- who has already fought three times in 2011 -- did not want to wait until then for his next fight.

“It’s about staying busy,” Rosado told SI.com. “I don’t feel K9 is going to give me a shot right away. He is looking for a big payday. I prefer to stay active. Each fight I am getting better and better.

Said Rosado’s promoter Russell Peltz. "Gab could sit around and wait until March when Bundrage has to fight him, but that's not in Gab's DNA. He's a fighter and fighters want to fight. It's that simple."

Because Ayala (26-5-1) has campaigned primarily as a middleweight, the fight will be at a catchweight of 156 pounds. Even though the fight is at a catchweight, IBF chairman Lindsey Tucker told SI.com that if Rosado loses, he would not retain his top-rated status.

Rosado says he is not concerned with fighting a bigger opponent.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Rosado said. "He might be a little bigger but I’m a strong 154-pounder. I’m probably the biggest 154-pounder in boxing. I’ve sparred with Bernard Hopkins when he weighed 190. I don’t think his size will be an advantage.”

-- Chris Mannix

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