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Rising Stars in Boxing Episode 4 – In the fourth installment of our new weekly feature Rising Stars in Boxing, Matt Andrzejewski and Kid Hersh zero in on two prospects who won numerous titles competing in the U.S. amateur ranks. One hails from New Jersey, the state that spawned Frank Sinatra, Whitney Houston, and Bruce Springsteen, and the other represents Cleveland, home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Matt Andrzejewski gets us started with a look at Julian Rodriguez.

Rising Stars in Boxing Episode 4 JULIAN RODRIGUEZ

Julian Rodriguez is quickly making a name for himself as an exciting young prospect. Managed by Pat Lynch and signed to Top Rank, the junior welterweight has scored 10 knockouts while compiling a 13-0 record all before his 22nd birthday.

As with many top prospects, the New Jersey born Rodriguez has stellar amateur credentials. He compiled more than 200 wins in the amateur ranks and won the 2013 National Golden Gloves title in the 141 pound class. Rodriguez also holds wins in the amateur ranks against fellow prospects Robert Easter Jr. and Damon Allen.

A pro since September 2013, Rodriguez has kept a very busy schedule. Fighting mostly deep on Top Rank undercards and small club shows, Rodriguez has been gaining valuable experience along with gaining buzz amongst fight fans. He is a come forward aggressive fighter who is not afraid to let his hands go or exchange with his opponents. In his last outing on the Lomachenko-Martinez card at Madison Square Garden against Adam Mate, Rodriguez came out firing early against his much more experienced opponent and put on his most impressive performance to date. Rodriguez dropped Mate four times in the first round with hard shots to the head and body before the fight was called off.

As his record indicates, one of Rodriguez’s biggest strengths is his natural power. He would best be described as a heavy handed fighter who carries power in both hands. For a young fighter, Rodriguez is an excellent body puncher and his best punch as a matter of fact is the left hook to the body. It is a punch that just appears to come natural to him and is thrown quick with serious power. Rodriguez has dropped and stopped opponents with the left hook downstairs. In addition to having power, Rodriguez also has above average hand speed and good foot movement.

The biggest flaw for Rodriguez is his defense. He has not shown much head movement in the early part of his career and sometimes will stand in front of his opponents with his chin up after throwing power punching combinations. It makes things exciting for fans and helps make Rodriguez a draw but is definitely something that needs to be tightened up as he moves forward in his career.

Rodriguez has the skills and natural ability to take his game to another level. His development over the next few years will be interesting to monitor. At the very least, he should make for some very exciting fights down the road. If he continues to progress, he could very well be a burgeoning star in this sport. – Matt Andrzejewski

Rising Stars in Boxing Episode 4 RYAN MARTIN

Ryan “Blue Chip” Martin (15-0, 9 KO’s) from Cleveland, Ohio has an apt nickname.  At nearly six feet tall and with a 74” inch reach, Martin (15-O, 9 KOs) is a very sizable lightweight.  His fighting style uses that size effectively, as he has very fast hands and is a natural counterpuncher that stays on the outside.  One gets the feeling that he could have more knockouts if he pressed for them but that just isn’t his modus operandi, being a “boxer” first and foremost.

Martin has been boxing since he was seven years old and has a pure joy for boxing.  Martin has said many times in interviews that he simply loves boxing and it certainly shows thus far.  Martin had a listed amateur record of 202 wins against 22 defeats and won twelve amateur national titles.  His only big hiccup in the amateurs was losing to fellow Ohioan Robert Easter Jr in the Olympic qualifiers of 2012.

Martin has cut his teeth sparring with some good professionals such as Yuriorkis Gamboa back when Gamboa was training for his fight with Terence Crawford.  Martin was brought in to emulate the taller Crawford and Martin’s team claims that they were sent home early because he was a little too good for the short and stocky Gamboa.  Martin said that he learned a lot from Gamboa in the two weeks they sparred, with tricks such as how to spin opponents and fight out of clinches.  He was still only a teen at the time and no doubt learned some good lessons no matter which way the sparring sessions actually played out.

Interestingly enough the Crawford comparison by Gamboa’s camp is a starting place for identifying Martin as a professional fighter.  While he isn’t as ambidextrous as Crawford, he really uses his range well, sometimes leading with jabs to set up his right hand and sometimes looking to catch a guy over-commit and then counter.  Martin also is economical with his punches.  This isn’t to say he has a low output, but rather that he chooses his punches with purpose like seasoned professionals tend to do.

In his latest fight on the undercard of Deontay Wilder vs. Chris Arreola, Martin fought the tough journeyman Samuel Amoako.  Martin had Amoako backing up and simply looking to last the distance after he found Amoako easy to hit and started to sit down on his shots.  Amoako then very quickly went into a defensive mode.  Martin did not take his man out but he did fight in a forward gear once Amoako changed his fighting plan.

This latest fight showed great progression.  In some of his earlier fights such as against Matthew Baca he looked a bit more of a raw fighter, perhaps one not willing to take big risks.  This is not a bad thing though, seeing as how he showed excellent skills in this fight. jabbing constantly and keeping his distance while scoring with very straight and clean shots.  It is a learning process after all.

Now that Martin has broken ties with defunct promoter 50 Cent and is working with Tom Loeffler of K2 promotions, I expect to see him back on the fast track, fighting frequently.  Keep an eye on “Blue Chip”; he has excellent outside boxing skills employed by an educated jab and an economical offense that any fan of the sweet science would likely enjoy watching. – Kid Hersh

 

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