Two of Southern California’s most explosive prizefighters co-headline a fight card when Saul “Neno” Rodriguez and Jose “Chon” Zepeda enter the ring on Saturday (Jan. 17) in Port Hueneme.
Rodriguez (pictured above), age 21, has engaged in several of the most memorable firefights last year and was recognized by Spanish television UniMas as having two of its most colorful knockouts in 2014. A British television sports network also recognized him as a prospect for the future.
Rodriguez (15-0-1, 12 Kos) faces Carlos Rodriguez (9-1, 4 Kos) of Mexicali at the Oceanview Pavilion. On the same card Zepeda (21-0, 18 Kos) meets Orlando Vazquez (15-5-1, 9 Kos) of Puerto Rico. The co-main events will be televised on UniMas.
The Riverside prizefighter wasn’t unknown to Southern Californians who follow the amateur boxing scene. He built a following throughout the years with his ability to blow out opponents despite the headgear and bigger boxing gloves. Crowds would form whenever his fights commenced.
As a pro Rodriguez quickly learned it’s a different game than the amateur world. But he likes that difference. Knockouts are more preferred than simply winning a fight on points. He has accrued 12 knockouts in 16 fights.
Spotted by Eduardo Garcia, the former trainer of Fernando Vargas and Robert Garcia, some extra layers of prizefighting knowledge have been provided to Saul by the Garcia boxing family, especially Eduardo.
“He taught me that I needed to work on my defense,” said Rodriguez, who still lives in Riverside but travels to Oxnard to train with Robert Garcia come fight time. “We work on defense all of the time.”
His main stablemate is Mikey Garcia, one of the best fighters pound for pound in the world. It has proven to be an added gift for Rodriguez.
“You can’t get better sparring than Mikey,” said Rodriguez. “He can fight a lot of different ways.”
Garcia lives in nearby Moreno Valley and trains in Riverside with Rodriguez when not preparing for a fight. He serves as another coach for the junior lightweight.
Rodriguez has an attacking style that emphasizes his quick combinations. Once he opens up it’s very difficult for opponents to defend. And despite a very thin build, he packs mind numbing power.
The La Puente-based athlete also packs power. So far 18 opponents did not hear the final bell against the hard-hitting welterweight Zepeda.
Many of his knockouts have come due to his excellent timing. At 5’8” in height, he sneaks up against opponents who seem to get fooled by his unimposing appearance. But not many are able to make the final bell.
Zepeda, 25, faces the taller Boricua Vazquez, who also packs power. Any time a Puerto Rican faces a Mexican you can expect fireworks. It’s almost guaranteed. Ironically Vazquez faced Rodriguez last year and was stopped. Now he’s moving up to welterweight and hopes the added weight will help.
The doors open at 6 p.m.