While the rest of the United States celebrated the Fourth of July over the weekend, Edwin Rodriguez and Denis Grachev were busy in Houston, Texas and Big Bear, California, respectively finalizing preparations for their return to Monte Carlo next Saturday night. The Rodriguez/Grachev showdown, scheduled for ten rounds, will be competed at a catch weight of 171.5 with the winner pocketing the lion’s share, 60%, of the Monte Carlo Million Dollar Super 4 Prize, the loser coming away with 40%. The fight takes place at the glittering Salles de Etoile entertainment venue.
“This is an outstanding matchup between two fine warriors and true gentlemen outside the ring. I’m very proud to promote this event to those in attendance in Monte Carlo in addition to those viewing the telecast across the globe,” said promoter Rodney Berman, head of Golden Gloves in South Africa. One week out, organizers are still working on U.S. television for the fight.
Rodriguez advanced to the final on March 31, taking a ten round unanimous decision over previously undefeated Argentinian contender Ezequiel Maderna. Grachev moved forward on the same day with a ten round split decision over former world champion Zsolt Erdei, both bouts also taking place at the Salle des Etoiles venue in the world’s most beautiful tourist location.
Each combatant is finalizing training in two of the finest boxing gyms in the United States, PLEX in Houston, Texas for Edwin Rodriguez and The Summit High Altitude Training Facility in Big Bear, California for Grachev.
After a morning run on the Fourth of July, Grachev (13-1-1, 8 KOs) spoke about the upcoming clash. “After my fight with Erdei on March 30th, I was able to take in quite a bit of the Rodriguez/Maderna fight which was very close. It was not Edwin’s best performance, although he won, I’m confident he can fight much better. ”
In regards to the unique catch weight, Grachev stated, “I’ve fought at 168 against Bute so making 171.5 for this fight is no problem. Super middleweight might be best for me going forward. Not looking past Rodriguez but I’d love to fight Carl Froch or Mikkel Kessler as well as Tommy Oosthuizen. I was very comfortable at 168 when I fought Lucian Bute last November and I thought I beat him clearly eight rounds to four. The training here at The Summit has been outstanding, sparring has been terrific, even went some rounds with Gennady Golovkin. Always good to train alongside a world champion. We leave on Sunday and I’m ready to go. It’s a big purse to win, hopefully I can fight two more times this years as well.”
Finishing a training session with Ronnie Shields at PLEX in Houston, Texas, Rodriguez (23-0, 15 KOs) talked about his Super 4 Final with Grachev.
“My fight with Maderna was after his win over Erdei so I didn’t get to watch it that night but I’ve seen his win a few times. He’s been on my radar a bit as he fought Lucian Bute at 168; additionally I saw his win over Ismayl Siliakh. He also beat my pal Vladine Biosse a couple years ago so I’m very familiar with him. I’m fine with the catch weight of 171.5 as I’m really a super middleweight, I’ll be on weight and I’m sure he will be as well. We both agreed to it and I don’t anticipate it being an issue. After this fight I’d like a world title shot, Sakio Bika would be a great opportunity.”
Three other outstanding bouts round out the evening with a 12 round WBA junior welterweight world title bout between defending champion Khabib Allakhverdiev and top rated challenger Soulemayne M’baye. In the middleweight division, Max Bursak of Kiev, Ukraine will face the United Kingdom’s Prince Arron for the EBU middleweight title over 12 rounds. Rounding out the card is a 12 round cruiserweight clash between Dmytro Kuchar of Kiev, Ukraine and South Africa’s Ilunga Makabu.