By Robert Hough
Edwin Rodriguez, who was two pounds over the 168-pound limit and fined $200,000 when he weighed in for his fight Saturday with Andre Ward, will hit the scale again at 9 a.m., on Saturday morning and cannot exceed 180 pounds, said Dan Goossen, Ward’s promoter. Ward (26-0, 14KOs), who weighed 167.8, is set to face Rodriguez (24-0, 16KOs) in an HBO-televised super middleweight fight at Citizen’s Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. Goossen said he’s confident the fight will go on. “I’m very optimistic about the fight happening, that Andre will get to get back in the ring and the fans will get to see an exciting fight,” he said.
Before he left the scale in some haste, Rodriguez, who weighed 167.5 for a fight in March and 171.5 for his last fight, in July, told emcee and actor Rob Schneider, “We’re gonna work on it.”
Lou DiBella, who promotes the 28-year-old from Worcester, Mass., was disgusted by the development. “I don’t have a lot of excuses,” DiBella said moments after the weigh-in. “It’s not professional. I’m embarrassed for them.”
Ward, who flashed a huge smile when he stepped up to the scale, said after the weigh-in that he’d heard that Rodriguez was training in a plastic suit to sweat off pounds. “It felt good to know we prepared right,” the 29-year-old said.
The weight issue may pose problems for Rodriguez, but it won’t affect his approach, he added.
“It’s significant,” said Ward, who weighed 167.8 pounds for his first fight in 14 months, in the wake of having major shoulder surgery in January. “I think it puts him at a disadvantage, but it doesn’t affect my frame of mind and my preparation.”
Looking ahead, Ward predicted that Rodriguez would be aggressive.
“He’s gonna come winging,” said Ward, who described his efforts to make 168 as “not easy.”
Goossen said he harbored no ill will toward Rodriguez and his trainer, Ronnie Shields, a respected veteran.
“If he didn’t have Ronnie in his corner, and Ronnie’s an experienced trainer, a good trainer, than maybe you’d wonder, but with Ronnie being there, that’s a good indication that he was aware of it and did everything he could,” Goossen said. “Sometimes you can’t shed that last pound or two.”
The development puts Rodriguez at a significant disadvantage, Goossen believes.
“He’s paid a hefty price financially and if any fighter is having trouble making weight, they’re not in optimum physical or mental shape,” he said.
Virgil Hunter, Ward’s trainer, echoed DiBella’s sentiments.
“That’s what happens when you give a guy more money than he deserves,” said Hunter, who added that he’d never seen anything like that at this level. “It’s unprofessional.”
The payday left Rodriguez unconcerned about the fine for not making 168 pounds, Hunter opined.