By Robert Coster
Photo: Ed Diller / DiBella Entertainment
His last fight on March 17th, a flawless ten round unanimous decision over tough Donovan George, really thrust undefeated super middleweight IBF #3, WBC #5, WBA #8 Edwin Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KOs) to the threshold of a title challenge and has boxing sportswriters and pundits on the watch for his next appearance. Fightnews caught up with the articulate, 26-year-old contender to discuss his boxing past, present and what lays ahead.
Edwin, in your fight against Donovan George everybody expected a brawl but instead you dominated your opponent fighting an intelligent, tactical fight. Was it your best performance to date as a pro? Is that the type of fight we can expect from you in the future?
I would consider this fight my most complete fight to date. I showed the world that I am a complete fighter and not just a guy who steps into the ring with only one option, knocking out my opponent. In the future we will continue to design my game plan based upon who is in front of me. Having a world class trainer like Ronnie Shields brings many options to my game and makes me a better fighter.
When would like to be fighting for a world title? How many more fights do you believe you need before stepping into the ring with one of the world champions?
I think that I am ready for a world title shot today, but this is boxing and it is a business. I am not going to put my record on the line until there is an offer on the table that makes financial sense for me and my family. The list of fighters who have the talent to compete for a world championship and win is very slim. My team feels as though my day will come in the near future, so I have put my faith in Lou Dibella and my manager Larry Army Jr and am confident that they will make me a world champion sometime this year. If the offer doesn’t come, I will continue to fight my way into a mandatory.
Any idea when you will be stepping back in to the ring or against whom?
At this time I believe I will fight a “stay busy” fight in the end of June. If a serious offer comes in before this fight is set, my team will entertain other options. I am hopeful that HBO or Showtime will contact me for another date, but it looks like that wont be until September or October. There is also talk of me fighting September 17th under Sergio Martinez. Whatever my team puts in front of me, I will prepare for.
How did you get your start in boxing? Do you happen to remember your first amateur fight?
My first amateur fight ocured when I was 16 years old at the Boys and Girls Club of Worcester. I remember feeling like I had a future in this sport. To be honest, I was in love with baseball, but due to the climate in Massachusetts it wasn’t a Year round sport so boxing became my haven.
You had a stellar amateur career winning the National Golden Gloves and US Nationals. If you look back at your amateur career, what was your best memory?
My best memories in the sport were winning my first national title and my hometown debut when I fought Patrick Thompson. The Thompson fight was a pro fight and also the first time I fought in Worcester Massachusetts. The crowd came out that night and I remember how special they made me feel. I rewarded them with a second round tko against a really tough guy. Winning the USA Nationals was equally as special because I wasn’t a known entity at that time, so what I did wasn’t expected by anyone other than me. It was great to show the world that I belonged in the amateur elite.
What are you working on in the gym? Do you feel you are a work in progress?
When I started with Ronnie I felt like I had a lot to learn. I still have a lot to learn, but my last fight showed the world that there are many dimensions to my fight skills. When I am in the gym I am always trying to refine my skills. I don’t believe you’re ever too good or too experienced to learn new things. For that reason, I will always be a work in progress when I train.
Are you a student of boxing? Do you watch boxing tapes? Which boxers, past or present, do you admire?
My team always watches film of my next opponent and other boxers that I can learn from. I believe that studying my craft is one of the many things that seperates me from others in the sport. I am a student of the game and am always looking for ways to hone my skills. Watching tapes are one of the many ways I accomplish this.
As you are getting closer to a world title shot, how are you feeling?
I feel undefeated. I feel like every time I step in the ring I have something to prove to myself, my opponent and my team. I feel at home in the ring and feel like the only one that can beat Edwin Rodriguez is Edwin Rodriguez. This isn’t me trying to be cocky, it is a knowledge that comes with doing things in the gym and in the strength and conditioning that others wont do. Success in this sport is a fine line, and I intend on creeping up to that line every chance I get. Whether it means leaving my young children and wife to go to camp or maintaining a strict diet, I will do what it takes to be a world champion. Thanks for the time that you have given me on this interview. And thanks to all my fans.