Monday, July 05, 2010

Worcester's Edwin Rodriguez Fights Biggest Battle Outside Boxing Ring (Video)

Edwin Rodriguez had reason to believe he was going to be an Olympic boxer.

Rodriguez, a Worcester, Mass., native by way of the Dominican Republic, had established himself as one of the best super-middleweight boxers in the country and was a strong hopeful for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

But as he was preparing to do so, an event that usually brings joy to a man's life put his boxing career on hold and cost him an opportunity to fight in the Olympics.

That's because Rodriguez's wife, Stephanie Rapa, gave birth to the couple's twins, although she did so prematurely, only 23 weeks into her pregnancy in November of 2006.

The premature birth of the twins halted Rodriguez's training for the Olympic qualifying trials.

Rodriguez's manager, Larry Army, said that Rodriguez was "definitely one of the favorites to make the U.S. Olympic team."

But despite the young boxer's hopes and dreams of participating on the biggest stage, he knew what he had to do. He needed to be by his wife's side as their kids battled for their lives.


Thursday, June 10, 2010


On a normal Saturday in June, Yankee Stadium is home to one of the best offensive teams in baseball. However, last Saturday, the fairly new ballpark may have boasted more hitting than all the Yankees' games thus far.

Miguel Cotto (35-2, 28 KOs) squared off against Yuri Foreman (28-1, 8 KOs) in the first fight at the new Yankee Stadium, the first at a Yankees park in 34 years.

Entering this fight, many believed Cotto’s best days were behind him and Foreman’s awkward style would win out (this writer included). Instead, Cotto looked like the fighter of old -- the fighter that used to chop down his opponents with a vicious body attack, cut off the ring and suffocate his victim with punishment. Foreman did what he usually does -- dance, change direction and get off in quick bursts -- but he just didn’t have enough to keep the power-punching Puerto Rican off him.

Cotto had control from the opening bell. He cut the ring and he was scoring regularly with his jab, and he was successful landing hard-thudding shots throughout the night.

Foreman slipped in the seventh round and got up hobbling. According to The Associated Press, he tore his meniscus and stretched ligaments in his right knee.

His corner decided to continue with the fight into the eighth round only to suddenly have a change of heart partway through, throwing in the towel.

In a strange twist, referee Arthur Mercante Jr. decided that the towel was unjustified and the fighters could continue. So after ushering the crowd out of the ring, the fight went on.It was a strange move -- but not as surprising as when referee Frank Santore Jr. counted Kermit Cintron out against Sergio Martinez


Thursday, May 27, 2010



It seems that, lately, Manny Pacquiao (51-3, 38 KOs) can't lose. It doesn't matter if he's fighting for a belt at 140 pounds, 147 pounds or a seat on the Philippines Congress. Even acid reflux is no match for this guy.

Now as happy as I am that Pacman has dreams outside the ring and is accomplishing them by getting involved in the Philippines political scene, I am also very saddened that the end of his boxing career is in sight. As the world watched to see if Pacquiao would get elected, Bob Arum was telling media outlets that he thought Pacquiao still had three fights left in him.

So that leaves us to make some decisions -- maybe not congressional decisions, but almost as important. What three fighters does Manny Pacquiao have to take on to close out his career?

Here are my choices.

1. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (41-0, 25 KOs)
OK, this is obvious. Bob Arum has said Pacquiao is fighting in November. A date of Nov. 13 has been pegged as a possible date for the superfight, and the world is collectively sending out good karma in hopes that it gets done. It's not often that the two all-around best boxers in the game are fighting around the same weight class. If this fight fails, it would not only be a huge money-making opportunity lost, but it would also open the floodgates for people to say, "It's another black eye on the sport of boxing."

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is coming off the best win of his career against Shane Mosley. Not only did Mayweather overcome a few rough moments in the third round after being wobbled by Mosley, but he also beat Mosley to the punch, walked the offensive fighter down and was somewhat entertaining. "Money May" looked so good against his 38-year-old opponent that the message boards, Twitter accounts and Facebook status updates were filled with boxing fans proclaiming what would happen to Pacman if a fight did indeed take place. To that, I reply with another boxing cliche: "That's why they fight the fight".

This fight needs to happen. It would be good for the sport, good for both fighters' legacies and, most of all, good for the fans who have stood by patiently while the two sides bickered like an old married couple.

2. Timothy Bradley (25-0, 11 KOs)
No matter the outcome of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight -- meaning win, lose, draw or doesn't happen -- I would like to see this matchup. Timothy Bradley is a no-nonsense, come-forward boxing machine. He first opened eyes when he took a split-decision victory over the awkward Junior Witter in enemy territory (England). He walked away with WBC light welterweight title and boatloads of respect from hardcore boxing fans.

Bradley has followed up that fight with nothing but impressive victory after impressive victory. He has beaten Edner Cherry, Kendall Holt, Nate Campbell and Lamont Peterson in the past two years. I would be willing to bet that there aren't many boxers who have faced that caliber of opposition lately, much less beaten them all. Bradley has also just joined the HBO ranks, which means he will start to get some recognition.

Bear with me as I toss out another one: "Pressure busts pipes." In the case of a Pacquiao-Bradley fight, I think "Pressure makes a diamond." Pacquiao doesn't back down, and neither does Bradley. Bradley seems to be built like the Energizer Bunny, never slowing down, never stopping and constantly banging away. You could name the fight after one of my favorite Tom Petty songs: "I Won't Back Down."


Saturday, May 01, 2010

Floyd Mayweather Jr. Has Speed, Youth on His Side for Bout With Shane Mosley

Going into a Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight, the question for me isn’t about whether he will win. The questions are: Will he be tested? Will he start to crack? Will he be pushed to the point where he has to dig deep? Will I hear his trainer say, "We need these rounds"?

As a fight fan, you can’t help but love the fighters that can get through certain situations on nothing but heart and instinct. Guys who, for no good reason, continue to fight, claw and scratch their way to victory. Those are the guys who really touch you and make you so dedicated to supporting such a crazy sport. They make you believe that if they can overcome that insane adversity, then anything is truly possible.

Someone with the skill set of a Floyd Mayweather also makes you appreciate the finer points in a brutal sport like boxing. You see the chess match aspect of the sport come into play. You are at times mesmerized by the speed and finesse one human being can put on display. When I watch Mayweather fight, I am in awe of his talent, but that still isn't enough. I want to see the fight inside of him. He has achieved amazing things in this sport, and at times he has done it without breaking a sweat. I wouldn’t want Mayweather to fight in a different style, or try to become more fan-friendly in the ring. I just want to see him go beyond what we already know he can do.

Shane Mosley is easily one of the best fighters of this generation and arguably Mayweather's toughest opponent to date. He has the potential to take Mayweather to the limit, and he has the obvious tools and talent to beat the undefeated fighter. Can he be the guy who, as Nazim Richardson said, "forces Floyd to become a dragon?" Could he get the best out of Floyd? It all depends on Shane.

Let’s look at their last few fights: To Read The Rest Please Go To

Friday, March 19, 2010


I wrote a story on the Lowell Golden Gloves tournament at Lowell Memorial Auditorium in 2005 and had the privilege of meeting a few promising athletes. Danny O'Connor, Demetrius Andrade and Edwin Rodriguez were just three of the many boxers I spoke to that night. Because of their boxing skills, personality and potential, I kept an eye on their careers.

O'Connor went on to become an Olympic alternate at the Beijing Olympics and later turned pro in Manchester, N.H. He's now 10-0 with three knockouts and is headlining his first card Friday night at Twin River Casino in Rhode island.

Andrade was a medal hopeful in Beijing, but he bowed out of the Games unexpectedly. He is now a pro with a 9-0, seven-KO record, and has several national television appearances under his belt.

Even though I follow boxing pretty closely, I seemed to lose track, though, of Rodriguez, a smiley kid from Worcester who seemed so excited about the chance to go to the nationals.But when I finally caught up Rodriguez, I found out that between that Golden Gloves tournament and our latest meeting, it had been a long and bumpy road for the now 25-year-old fighter. But as difficult as it was, he says he wouldn't change it for anything.

Following the Lowell tournament, Rodriguez went on to win several national tournaments, including the U.S. Nationals that same year and the National Golden Gloves tournament in 2006. He seemed be on the same Olympic path as his fellow New Englanders O'Connor and Andrade. Then, in November of 2006, his fiancee, Stephanie Rapa, gave birth to twins, Edwin Jr. and Serena Lynn, 17 weeks premature. They were not in good health and had to be kept on life support. Edwin and Stephanie were faced with questions that no one should have to answer, especially new parents.


Friday, March 12, 2010




Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey are squaring off on HBO pay-per-view on Saturday. It’s not for just a belt or payday, but for a much bigger future opportunity.

Pacquiao already had a gargantuan payday in his sights when a little squabble over needles crashed the party. The top pound-for-pound fighter eventually moved on and is slated to fight Clottey at the brand-new Cowboys Stadium in Texas.

Sadly, no matter how good this fight might be, no one cares. All thoughts are still on a potential showdown between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

We caught up with HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg a few weeks ago. Greenburg was in Boston promoting a Larry Bird and Magic Johnson documentary, but he was more than happy to chat a little boxing and didn’t shy away from expressing his disappointment that the superfight never came together.

"Again, we find ourselves in the scenario where we have to have a little bit of luck and both those fighters have to win," said Greenburg, who’s been at HBO since 1978.

This past winter, he was front and center for the collapse of what could have been the biggest fight in boxing. It was a present the television veteran wasn’t expecting.

"It ruined my Christmas vacation, to be honest with you." Greenburg said. "I was on the phone probably four or five hours a day trying to make it happen."


Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Two-time WBA Heavyweight champion and Massachusetts native John Ruizis getting another title shot.

Ruiz will be taking on current WBA Heavyweight champion David Hayeon April 3rd in Manchester, England. It was Haye who defeated Nikolay Valuev for the WBA strap back in November after Ruiz (the No. 1 contender) agreed to step aside and fight the winner.

"The Quiet Man" stopped by the South Boston Boxing Gym for a quick workout but as I soon found out, he's not all that quiet once you get him going. And unlike some people, he has not lost faith in the Patriots, as we dished on everything from his upcoming fight to his first car. How have you changed after fighting over in Germany the past few years?

Yeah definitely people haven’t noticed. People think I have retired already because they haven’t seen me fight; I’ve been fighting over in Germany the past three or four years. It was a good experience, the fans were great -- I just never got a break with the decisions. I’m looking forward to moving on and fighting David Haye in England. Tell me a little bit about David Haye.

Ruiz: David Haye is definitely a quick guy, he’s not going to be easy to corner him. He likes to move around a lot. The main thing is try to cut the ring off, and stay on top of him. He’s a perfect style for me because his most difficult fights are the people who basically stay on top of him and make him fight. That’s my kind of style, and I think I have a good chance.