Unbeaten sensation Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez, eyeing a world title fight in 2012, has successfully advanced from prospect to legitimate contender in the super middleweight division.
Granted, the 26-year-old Dominican Republic native (19-0, 14 KOs) may not be ready right now for the likes of Lucian Bute, Andre Ward and Carl Froch, but in another year Rodriguez figures he’ll be ready to challenge the top 168-pound guns and, by then, the overall landscape in that weight class could be completely altered.
Rumors have some of the super middleweight elite preparing moves up to the light heavyweight division in the not too distant future.
“I need two good fights against top 10 opponents and then I’ll be ready for a world title fight,” Rodriguez said. “I fought on August 20th at 174, but only because my opponent couldn’t make a lower weight. I have no issues making 168. I was able to stay focused the entire fight against Traietti. I wish the fight had lasted longer so I could have thrown more combinations. I’m extremely happy with my performance and have more confidence in my jab.
"Our game plan was to establish my jab in the first two rounds and then drop my right on him. But I caught him with a good body punch and the fight ended. I need to continue working on putting combinations together and being aware of fighting more defensively. I was disciplined in the gym and listened to Ronnie (Shields). The first time he (Traietti) rushed me, the old me would have tried to take him out right away, but I kept to the game plan.”
Rodriguez’promoter, Lou DiBella, feels he has something special in Edwin.
“Edwin Rodriguez is the best 168 lbs. prospect in the United States. His backstory is incredible and soon to be a major documentary. On October 21, Team Rodriguez is proud to be headlining another ShoBox, our home away from home. More details will follow.
Rodriguez is coming off of a devastating second-round victory by technical knockout on August 20th at home, when he broke two of opponent Chris Traietti’s (10-3, 6 KOs) ribs, drilling a vicious right that caused breathing problems that prevented the Iraq War veteran from continuing to fight.
Larry Army, Edwin’s trusted manager, believes his ace owns the best body shot to come out of New England since “Irish” Micky Ward, as well as being, arguably, the top contemporary body puncher in the world. “Four of his last five fights ending in knockout were stopped after a single punch to the body against Traietti, (Ibraheim) King, (Kevin) Engle and (George) Armenta. Who else can make that claim?
"The other knockout was from an accumulation of punches, many to the body, against (James) McGirt. The only fight in Edwin’s last five that went the distance was when he dislocated his shoulder in the second round against Aaron Pryor Jr., who at No. 9 in the WBC ratings is somehow rated three spots ahead of Edwin. Most people in boxing think Bute is the best body puncher in the world and I honestly believe Edwin is his equal in that regard. He throws with such velocity.”
The reigning WBC USNBC super middleweight champion, Rodriguez is knocking on the door for a major fight, currently rated # 8 by the International Boxing Federation and the World Boxing Association, as well as #12 by the World Boxing Council and #13 by the World Boxing Organization.
Renowned trainer Ronnie Shields has worked with Edwin a little more than two months and only one fight, but the former two-time world title challenger senses greatness in his new protégé. “Boxing is always looking for its next star and I think it is Edwin Rodriguez,” Shields commented. “He has that style fans really love – he throws a lot of punches and is a real fighter.
"I was very happy with the way he fought against Traietti, even though it lasted only two rounds. Edwin fought on the outside, went to the body, and his jab was consistent. I never wanted to deviate from what he does best – throw a lot of punches. I want him to box more and he did. It’s boxing and he’s going to get hit, but I don’t want him to get hit as much as he had in the past.
“I’d say he’s improved 20-25 percent, but give us a few more months working together for his next fight and he’ll be improved 60-70 percent. When he has to go 12 rounds, he has to understand that it doesn’t mean going toe-to-toe for 12. He has to adjust depending on the style of his opponent.
"We’re going to work on him catching punches and falling back after he punches, but not taking away from his strong, forceful punching. Next, we want to test him against a top-10 fighter, to better judge when he’ll be ready for a world title fight.”