By Boxing Reporter and Writer Chris Cercola
Edwin Rodriguez was born on May 5, 1985 in Moca, Dominican Republic. Edwin came to Worcester Massachusetts in the United States when he was seven years old with his brothers and mother where they would reunite with Edwin’s father who was already here. Boxing found Edwin when he was 14 years old.After compiling and 84 – 9 record in the amateurs, Edwin turned pro, stopping his first opponent, and steadily climbing up the super middleweight rankings. Edwin has yet to taste defeat in the pro ranks. Having just made his HBO debut, and at Madison Square Garden no less, Rodriguez gave what was probably his best performance to date this past St. Patrick’s Day in New York City… In this interview, which was recorded on March 30, 2012, Edwin ‘La Bomba’ Rodriguez reflects on all of that and on his younger life, what brought him to the verge of superstardom, who’s next, and he gives his opinion on those at the top of one of the deepest divisions in boxing today, those of whom Edwin hopes to share a ring with sometime in the very near future.
I was born in Moca, in the Dominican Republic. I’m like every Dominican, we all try to be a professional baseball player. My father came here when I wasn’t even born yet, I was in my mother’s stomach my dad came here in 1984. I was born in 1985, so I didn’t even meet my father ‘til I was about seven. I grew up with three older brothers. My oldest brother was my father figure, he taught me responsibility since I was small. In 1998 we came to United States my father brought me and my brothers and my mother to the United States. I came to Worcester Massachusetts. My father owned a convenience store, kind of like a little market, so we worked there since I was about 13. I was 14 when I first walked into the gym I was there for maybe just a couple times, I beat up my older brother and my father decided to take me out boxing the thing is though, is that I was beating him up before I was even into boxing and he’s a year older than me, but I went a couple times to the gym when I was about 14. I went back when I was about 16 and I had my first fight when I was 17.
I was always a good kid. I was always into sports, I never got in trouble. In the Dominican Republic, I used to fight quite a bit with my friends, but when I came to the United States, I never got into any trouble or anything like that. My brother’s friend got me into boxing, he used to be a coach, his name is Lucas Mercedes, he talked to my brother about boxing, and my brother, I had him bring me to the Boys and Girls Club. I loved it, unfortunately my father kept me from it because I would beat up my brother… I mean I grew up with three older brothers now, it’s six of us, all boys, we were always fighting at home, to us, there was nothing new, but it was new to our father because we didn’t really grow up with him. He was here in the United States trying to get us a better life, trying to get us all over here, trying to reach that American dream.
I was the only one that picked up in boxing. They all played baseball, because that’s what Dominicans do. As an amateur I was 84 – 9.The 2005 US amateur national championship, that was my first award, that was my first nationals, it was my first tournament that I was able to travel ‘cause I wasn’t a US citizen prior to that, I did my US citizenship in 2004, so in 05’, the US nationals was my first tournament. Nobody even knew who I was, so I was able to come in under the radar and just beat everybody. It was a great feeling, it was the first national tournament so it was an amazing feeling. Winning the national title was huge, a huge accomplishment for me. I think it was the beginning of me believing even more in myself and being like, “Wow, I’m the best in the country, I might be able to do this for a living”. I thought I might’ve had a chance to be a professional baseball player but maybe I have a chance in boxing…In 2006 I won the National Golden Gloves… Everybody and anybody who don’t even know about boxing, knows what the Golden Gloves is, winning that was another big accomplishment as well because it’s one of those big tournaments .
I turned pro I fought Samuel Gomez, very nice kid. Actually we stay in touch, he’s from Florida, he’s one of my good friends in boxing now, it was a knockout in about a minute or so. He’s excited that he was actually in the ring with me he’s a very nice kid. My second opponent, I don’t know what was wrong, I just kept dropping him he just kept getting back up and his eyes were like big… I still remember his eyes were so big… I was like ,“Holy crap, what’s going on, why does he keep getting up?”, but it was a lot of fun though. Last time that I dropped him, I’m pretty sure that he was gonna get up but the referee had enough I think. I dropped him like five times in four rounds or something like that…I was sure he was gonna get up again if the referee didn’t stop it… I was getting tired of it. I was saying ”You know, I am not going to hit you anymore, forget it!”.
I stopped Buddy McGirt Jr. and that was an awesome feeling as well… That was my first Showtime main event, it was against a fighter with a good name, his father was a very good trainer, and he was my first step of becoming a legitimate top prospect, close to being a contender. That fight had a lot of meaning to me because it was I was fighting someone who had a big name and a win against a guy like that was, put me on the boxing map I felt great winning that championship and it was full of excitement. I knew I had a long way to go my goal is to be a world champion and eventually a Hall of Famer so I still got a lot of work to do. Buddy is actually a pretty nice guy, we ran into him actually at my last fight, he was there. He is a very good character, he jokes around a lot. I even met Buddy McGirt Jr’s sister at our last fight she came up to me and she said, “You beat my brother, but I’m going to cheer for you.” In my last fight with Donovan George, Buddy had the had the main event, he had Macklin…
Aaron Pryor Jr. was a very tough fight, he had a very big reach advantage. I ended up getting an injury during the fight but it was a fight that I had to fight through adversity, and I did it well enough to get the W and stay undefeated, and to get healthy again. Me messing up my shoulder in the third round, and like I said his reach and me being able to fight with my right hand due to having that shoulder dislocated since the third round, so he gave me a hard time …
Will Rosinsky is a good fighter, it was a very good fight. He has a very good amateur background as well and a national champion. It was a very good fight actually, real good friend. We were actually roommates at one point, he was one of the few guys that I actually hang out with and got along really well with… I knew he was really, really tough. I have seen that kid go to war with people as an amateur, that’s his style, that’s what he does. It was a great fight for the fans, it was a great fight to be in, it was a great atmosphere because he was, ya know, us being friends, and us trying to prove to each other that we are better, it was that much competitive in a way that was good but in another way it was kind of like, I let all the thing get the better out of me and that’s why I made it such a war. It was very exciting but I think I could’ve beat him easier.
It was very special… Not just being on HBO, fighting at Madison Square Garden was special. Madison Square Garden is huge, it’s like the Mecca of boxing is like the Golden Gloves, everybody that’s anybody in boxing has fought in the Golden Gloves, the same thing as Madison Square Garden, anybody that’s everybody that’s anything in professional boxing has either fought there or wants to fight there. Me being there on St. Patrick’s Day, on HBO, it was just huge ya know. I don’t even know how I was able to like keep the emotions and everything together, that’s what we do, and boxing is one of the toughest sports, a one-to-one sport, it takes a lot more than just training and everything else ya know, outside of the ring, we both putting our life there… It’s like you going to get an interview for your job every time you step in the squared circle, because with your performance there, they’re going to be able to tell you what your gonna do next, if you’re going to get the next job, if you’re going to get a bigger fight or if you’re going to take a huge pay cut and go backwards.
I respect every fighter that steps in the ring because it takes a lot to be a fighter. not just the fighting, but the mental part of it… Everything that’s involved in being a professional fighter. When you’re playing baseball or basketball, you depend on the whole team. If you get tired, you get a minute, whatever you need to get back in, you get your little time out, but in boxing, there is no time out. You have to block out all the feelings, it doesn’t matter how you feel, you just got a go through it and do what you got it do to get the win because a loss around that performance could be a step back, a huge pay cut and basically starting your career over or taking a few steps back and there’s no room for that in my career…I’m focused when I walk out to the ring my focus is already there nothing else matters but that guy in front of me, so many people around, but as soon as that bell rings, they disappear.
You get nervous a few days before, you are only human so like I said before, this is a big huge part of your life that depends on how you perform, you’re going to be able to live the same type of life you’re living, or get a better job or whatever… So you are definitely nervous the whole training camp, but as soon as you walk down that thing, nothing else matters just on the fight, getting in there and just going to work, getting the job done. After that you feel sore for like a week just because you release all that tension and it’s the greatest feeling in the world just being able to know that your job is accomplished and you know you won, you did what you had to do, now you’re able to let your body just relax and go back at it again.
HBO is huge it’s the biggest stage of boxing… leading up to it I was kind of like, “Oh, the fight is coming”, I was a little nervous about it, but once I sat there, I felt like I was at home. I felt like I knew those guys for a long time because I have been watching HBO and the fighters so much that I kind of felt like all this is not bad. I actually did very well with those guys I wasn’t nervous at all, it was a great feeling winning. We have come such a long way to be fighting on HBO, but like I said, I want all this to get to a world title so the feeling will be much better when we accomplish that goal…I’m still the same guy that don’t really think too much about what’s going on, just live life one day at a time, but you know things have changed quite a bit around me, I’m being asked to go do stuff, go speak to people, which is pretty cool! People wanna meet me, actually pretty cool… I’m still the same guy, family guy and that’s about it. I went paintball shooting with my five brothers, so it was all six of us and four of our friends and we just went at it as the type of fun we had. There’s no drinking there’s no partying we did have a cookout but nothing too crazy.
The super middleweight division is deep, so many really good fighters so many big names in the Super Six, Kessler, Arthur Abraham, The Dirrell brothers… So many good fighters out there, Kelly Pavlik, Jermaine Taylor just made a comeback against Allan Green, I would like to fight a guy like Alan Green, somebody on that level, I know I’m ready for anybody a super middleweight. I think Andre Ward is a very good fighter, he is the best super middleweight right now, he seems to be able to switch the style up and adapt to his opponent. I think he is a very good fighter.
Froch-Bute is going to be a very good fight. Alot of people are not givingCarl Froch a chance, but I think Froch is a very good puncher, a very good fighter, very determined. His determination is the thing and that’s all of the things that make him so dangerous, his power, his intimidation to be a winner. Bute is a very good fighter as well, so it’s gonna be a great fight. I’m going to be a fan that night, I am going to just sit back, relax on the couch, and just enjoy the fight.
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