Edwin Rodriguez (20-0 with 14 Kos entering; the pride of Worcester, Mass., along with actor-comedian Dennis Leary and my friend Bianca Brady) met Don George (22-1 with 19 Kos; from Chicago) in a super middleweight scrap set for ten or fewer on HBO at the MSG Theater on Saturday night. Rodriguez started and finished as the classier boxer, as George was too frequently plodding after him, looking to land bombs, but mostly just battering the air. The scores read 96-94 (Don Ackerman), 99-91 (Glen Feldman), 97-93 (Waleska Roldna). I had it 100-90, for Rodriguez in the main support bout to the Sergio Martinez-Matthew Macklin scrap. Rodriguez went 215-718, to 156-560 for George. I think the Ackerman card is quite iffy, for the record.
Benjie Estevez was the ref.
Rodriguez was happy after. He said he's been working on D, and now knows he doesn't have to go all out throwing bombs to win bouts. "I feel great. I feel tired but happy. Ronnie (Shields, head trainer) gave me a 10 tonight. Since I've been with Ronnie, we've been working on my defensive game and boxing. I'm showing another dimension. I don't think I have to go out there for three minutes every round throwing bombs. I still need to improve but, overall, I was pleased with my performance."
The first round was tight, with Rodriguez perhaps hinting that he was the better boxer. He used the jab to dictate the pace and distance to good effect. Rodriguez looked in control in the second. He moved smartly, threw a few combos, feinted to keep George from getting set and put together a couple combos. George got more aggressive and landed a few clean rights but the jab of Rodriguez set the tone for much of the round. He indicated a clean right didn't hurt him and answered back but George got out of an early funk. Apart from a right that wowed the crowd, George was not in the fourth; he plodded after La Bomba, throwing single shots whereas Rodriguez often threw combos. La Bomba's D often made George look bad with showy misses. Smart boxing gave Rodriguez another round in the fifth. He backed up, but worked harder and threw more than George, though a couple power shots were liked by the crowd from the Illinois fighter.
Rodriguez hurled left hooks and a few of those nice rights to the body that he neglected the last couple rounds to win the sixth. It was more of the same in the seventh; would George go for broke, realizing his tactics weren't getting it done? Not in the eighth. George doesn't throw a left hook, so Rodriguez didn't fear anything throwing his right, too often. In the tenth, Rodriguez didn't coast. He was aggressive but smart.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV