By Robert Coster
On August 1st at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, Delvin Rodriguez (24-2-2, 14 KOs) will be stepping into the ring for the vacant IBF welterweight title against Isaac Hlatshwayo (28-1, 10 KOs) of South Africa. It will be the second meeting between the two boxers as their first fight in South Africa ended in a controversial draw in November of 2008. Fightnews reached the Dominican born, Connecticut raised Rodriguez at his training camp to get his take on the title bout which he describes as his “door to stardom” and the hard, rocky road he has had to climb in his career to reach this level.
Delvin, you have a rematch with Isaac Hlatshwayo on August 1st for the IBF welterweight title. Your first fight was a controversial draw and there is bad blood between the two of you. What do you have to say about that first bout?
Hlatshwayo is a tough, good boxer. He is the second ranked IBF contender after me and for good reasons, this said, I am convinced I won that fight in South Africa and it was a case of hometown advantage. One judge voted for me and the other two voted it a daw.
Your prediction for the rematch?
This time I’m not leaving it in the hands of the judges. Not only am I going to win but I’m going to be the first one to knock him out, I don’t like Hlatshwayo or his trainer and how they acted in the first fight, things they said, This is a grudge fight.
Looking back at your career and the two blemishes in your record. What have you learned from those losses?
My first loss, I don’t pay mind to because I wasn’t even the quarter of the fighter I am today. As for my loss to Jesse Feliciano, I was stopped . It was tough to stomach but I have put the Feliciano fight behind me. I was winning, I got lazy and I paid the price. I have learned to be more alert, always stay focused, now, I am always aware of what his going on at all times. Losing can make you a better fighter.
Another difficult moment: the fight with Oscar Diaz, he was badly hurt.
It was traumatic. I am so happy that Oscar is OK today. Thank God.
Even winning the IBF title, you do realize that you would still be less known than the other division champions – Cotto, Mosley, Berto. Your opinion on that?
I do realize that but this is just the beginning for me. Once I become the IBF world champion, my path to stardom will be paved. All I need is one opportunity and August 1st is that opportunity.
If you win on August 1st, of those three champions, who would be your pick?
It would be Cotto. It would be a great fight for the fans: a Dominican vs a Puerto Rican. But I am not looking past Isaac. All I’m thinking about now is getting that IBF belt around my waist.
You will be fighting in front of your hometown fans in Connecticut. Is that a boost or added pressure?
It is a dream come true. I was so happy that Joe DeGuardia and Star Boxing, my promoter, won the purse bid. Not only do I have the opportunity to become a world champion but in front of my hometown fans. It is not added pressure, it is an added boost.
Will your parents be attending your fight?
My mother lives in the US, my father is back in the Dominican Republic. My mother doesn’t like to see me fight, she gets too nervous. She will be at home praying for me and waiting for our call with the good news.
Exactly 15 days from the fight, how do you describe your mental state? Focused, hopeful, edgy?
Mentally and physically, I am more ready than ever. And, I’m not hopeful of the outcome. I am certain of the outcome, I have no doubt in my mind that on August 1st, I am going to walk away from that ring as the IBF welterweight champion of the world.