Evan Rodriguez turned one year old today and bless his tiny soul, he has no idea that his dad might be bestowing upon him the birthday gift of a lifetime tomorrow night in Florida.
Evan's dad Delvin takes on the 32-year-old Miguel Cotto (37-4) in a 154 pound clash, to be screened on HBO (the broadcast kicks off at 9:45 PM ET). He is the underdog, for sure, with most all folks outside of his team and family seeing him as a superior journeyman, a fighter with undeniable skills and heart, who simply has shown that he's been blessed with slightly less than Grade A skills, the sort which he'll need to summon to beat the future Hall of Famer Cotto, even if Cotto is in the home stretch of a 12 year pro career.
Rodriguez (28-6-3; age 33; Danbury, CT resident; seen with Cotto in Chris Farina-Top Rank photo) was kind enough to chat with after his HBO fighter meeting, and we talked about the stakes, and his confidence level. "I'm just waiting for the weigh in," he told me. "I expect to be right on 154."
The stakes are immense, the fighter managed by AJ Galante and promoted by Joe DeGuardia gets that. A win on this co-promotion between Top Rank and Star Boxing means the next bout will be financially rewarding to the point he can claim a nest egg which could put Evan and his other son, 11-year-old Delvin Jr., in college and not worry about tuition bills. "It would make me financially secure," he said, "and that's why the fight is so important. It takes me to a whole different level."
Those high stakes aren't giving him the jitters, he said. "I've worked to get here. That's my motivation, to take care of my family, wife Evelyn, my kids. I do this all for my family. And I love the sport of boxing."
A win over Cotto, "that would be the best gift ever for my baby. I've worked very hard to accomplish it."
And I wanted to guage the certainty in his voice when I asked how sure he is that he will beat Cotto: "I'm very sure, very sure," he said. "I know what I can do, I know I know things to my advantage against Cotto."
Readers, your predictions please. Will little Evan get the best b-day gift of all time? Or will Cotto live up to his status as the favorite?
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Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?