NENO RODRIGUEZ MOVING ON UP — RIVERSIDE, Ca.-Working out in a narrow-sized boxing gym located near Riverside North High, super featherweight contender Saul “Neno” Rodriguez (pictured with his father) has that look of a young gunfighter you might envision during the old Wild West days.
He’s got an itchy trigger finger and plenty of bullets.
Next week Rodriguez (20-0-1, 15 KOs) gets a chance to use some of that ammunition when he faces Oscar Bravo (22-6, 10 KOs) at the Pechanga Resort and Casino on Friday Feb. 24. It’s the main draw for the Riverside fighter and first time performing at home. Showtime will televise the Mayweather Promotions card.
Despite spending five years in the world of professionals, the Riverside native Rodriguez, who attended Riverside Poly High, has never fought near his hometown or in Riverside County.
“Yes it’s going to be a little different. A lot of my friends are going to be able to see me fight for the first time,” said Rodriguez, 23, who still lives in Riverside. “But I’m not nervous. I can’t wait to get back in the ring.”
The gym where Rodriguez trains is also the same training facility used by another Riverside-based prizefighter, Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera. Both are prepping for their upcoming fights. Herrera returns to the ring on March 23 to face Mexican veteran Hector Velasquez. But first, it’s Rodriguez’s turn. He meets Chile’s Bravo a boxer who has never been stopped.
“He’s a real tough guy with experience,” says Rodriguez on Tuesday, whose last fight was a knockout win over Colombia’s Daulis Prescott last May 2015. “I know he’s never been stopped before but I always go for the knockout.”
Since signing with Mayweather Promotions last December, the lean knockout machine has spoken numerous times to the president Floyd Mayweather. It’s one of the perks in signing with the Las Vegas-based group.
“Yes, he gives me a lot of tips here and there,” said Rodriguez who has always been a knockout punching machine even as an amateur. “Floyd wants to make sure I’m ready and understands the game.”
So far, the Riverside rifle has used his blend of speed and surprising crackerjack power to blast his way through all 21 opponents he’s faced as a professional. Even as an amateur he was able to stop most of his foes.
“The only difference is with amateurs they (foes) had protective head gear and bigger gloves that made it harder to connect,” said Rodriguez. “But in the pros there’s no head gear and the gloves are smaller so there’s a lot more room to get my punches through.”
Spoken like a gunslinger.
The Riverside slugger knows that his next opponent Bravo was able to go the distance against Puerto Rico’s young gun Felix Verdejo. It doesn’t faze Rodriguez.
“I never look to win by decision,” said Rodriguez who is trained by his father Saul Rodriguez Sr. “I’m looking to take him out. That’s what people come to see.”
Tickets are expected to sell out. For more information contact Pechanga Resort and Casino box office at (877) 711-2946.
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.