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Interview

Q&A: Isaac Rodrigues

By Rick Scharmberg

Hard hitting super middleweight Isaac Rodrigues (16-0, 14 KOs), of Belem, Brazil will face former Contender participant Brian Vera (16-3, 10 KOs), of Austin, Texas this Friday night at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York. It will represent the biggest fight in his career, which includes winning the WBO Latino super middleweight title against Pablo Daniel Zamora Nievas. “This is a big fight for us,” said Rodrigues’ trainer Chino Rivas. “Brian Vera is a tough, tough opponent. If we want to get on ESPN or SHOBOX, we have to fight tough fights like this, and look good.” The card, which includes up-and-coming female star Amanda Serrano, is promoted by Dave Escalet.

Isaac Rodrigues, 25, started boxing in Brazil at the age of seventeen, after his uncle, Ulyssis Periera, took him to the gym. He compiled an amateur mark of 45-5 in just three years before turning pro on September 30, 2005, at the age of twenty.

Rodrigues racked up 8 wins with 8 knockouts in Brazil, before leaving his family behind and moving to the United States in 2007, where he began training under the late, legendary trainer Oscar Suarez. After cancer tragically took Oscar away in 2008, Isaac’s training was picked up by Suarez protégé and first cousin Raul Chino Rivas, with whom Rodrigues currently lives.

“My idol is Muhammad Ali, and I loved to watch Acelino Freitas, of course,” said Rodrigues through Rivas, who serves as his interpreter.

“I never saw Brian Vera when he was on The Contender, but I did see him on YouTube. I know he is a good fighter, and that he beat Andy Lee and that he was stopped by James Kirkland on HBO,” he said.

In his last bout against veteran Marcos Primera, Rodrigues overcame an early round cut to take an eight round unanimous decision in Lynchburg, Virginia. “Primera cut him in the second round, but he responded well and came back. The blood flowed into his eye, but it didn’t bother him. It was a good experience for him, considering,” said Rivas.

Up until now, Rodrigues employed a brawling style, relying on his heavy hands to take care of things. Against Primera, he realized that by using his boxing skills, he can add another weapon to his arsenal.

“He likes to come at you. He’s strong and willing to exchange, like a Mexican-type of style,” said Rivas. “But he is a good boxer, too. I am teaching him to box more. He still has a habit of catching punches with his hands, but he is learning movement. He is a smart fighter and he can punch with both hands. What I love about him is that he stays strong from the first round to the last round.”

On April 3, 2008, Rodrigues stopped Pablo Daniel Zamora Nievas in the eighth round in his hometown of Belem, Brazil to win the vacant WBO Latino super middleweight title.
“That was my best fight so far,” said Rodrigues. “My goal is to be the best champion in my division.”

Expectations are set high for Isaac Rodrigues. “The cut he had in his last fight set us back six months,” said Chino. “Instead of 16 fights, we would have 18 by now. Still, we hope to have him ranked in the top-5 by the end of next year. He has the potential to do great things. He has power, he’s hungry, and he has the right people behind him.”

Rodrigues has been training at a variety of places in preparation for his fight with Vera.

“We train at the PAL in Vineland (NJ), but we also go to Philadelphia (PA) to the Front Street Gym, Shuler’s, and up to Hackensack (NJ) too. We just got finished sparring with Lajuan Simon at Joe Hand’s in Philly. We like to move around. We also trained at the Atlantic City PAL with a Polish kid, Patrick Majewski,” said Rivas.

“We’re ready. We’re excited,” he continued. “We’re just about at weight, and focusing on small details. We are where we need to be. Isaac is in his best shape ever. We’ll take the win any way it comes. The main thing is to win and look impressive.”

Isaac is so dedicated to his sport, that he left his family in Brazil, in order to get the best sparring and direction he could. “My brother and uncle are still in Brazil, along with my brother Moises, who is a police officer,” he said.

Outside of boxing, Isaac enjoys playing soccer with his buddies. “I love soccer,” he said. He also likes to fish, swim, and to go out dancing.

Tickets are priced at $55, $40 and $30 and can be purchased by calling 1-877-833-7469 or 1-315-472-0700.

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