NEW YORK (Oct. 17, 2011) – It’s not difficult to root for a guy like world-ranked super middleweight Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez (19-0, 14 KOs), of Worchester, Mass., who faces fellow unbeaten Will “Power” Rosinsky (14-0, 8 KOs) of Ozone Park, N.Y., in the 10-round main event of ShoBox: The New Generation on Friday, Oct. 21, live on SHOWTIME® (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast).
Rodriguez has been virtually unbeatable since lacing on the gloves at 16. He went 84-9 in the amateurs and was a two-time national champion. Since turning pro on Jan. 26, 2008, he has steadily ascended through the ranks and remains a strong possibility to one day become a 168-pound world champion.
What makes Rodriguez’ accomplishments inside the ring so extraordinary and inspiring, however, is that he’s managed to achieve success while dealing with a complex home situation with young children who have special needs. He and wife Stephanie’s fraternal twins, Edwin Jr. and Serena Lynn, were born prematurely, at 23 weeks. Chances of survival were bleak, yet both miraculously turned four years old on Sept. 29.
“They both weighed a pound and three ounces at birth,’’ Rodriguez said. “The doctor sat us down and told us many times that our son only had a slim chance of (making it). It was tough just like with any other family. Physically, I was there, trying to go to the gym, but mentally, I wasn’t. It was tough having my kids at the hospital for four months and at the same time trying to concentrate on boxing.
“I have a little more to deal with than most parents but we do what we have to do. I know boxing takes a lot of time away from my family but being able to give them a better life balances it out a little. My son got diagnosed with CP -- cerebral palsy. But I’m just happy to have him and see him smile every day.’’
As if this wasn’t enough, Rodriguez’ manager, Larry Army, said the twins were also recently diagnosed with autism. Rodriguez credits his wife for helping him get through.
“My wife is such a very good mother,’’ he said. “Every time I have to go out for training camp, she makes sure everything’s taken care of. I appreciate her so much and she just makes everything easier.”
Rodriguez, who was planning to try out for the 2008 Olympic Games but couldn’t when the children were born, is currently ranked by the four major boxing organizations, topping out at No. 6 in the WBC (World Boxing Classic). The way he sees it, 2012 will be a magic number. By then, he figures, a top-heavy, talent-laden 168-pound division will have sorted itself out some, paving the way for him to make a move.
“I need two good fights against top-10 opponents and I’ll be ready for a world title fight,” said Rodriguez, who’ll be making his third ShoBox appearance. Despite dislocating his shoulder in the second round, he won his toughest test to date with a unanimous 10-round decision over Aaron Pryor Jr. last Jan. 14. In his second ShoBox start, Rodriguez scored a ninth-round TKO over Buddy McGirt Jr. on Nov. 5, 2010. Rodriguez scored a sixth-round knockout over Kevin Engle in his ShoBox debut on April 30, 2010.
“I love boxing,” said Rodriguez, who’s gained invaluable experience by sparring with the likes of WBC champion Carl Froch and ex-titleholder Chad Dawson. “I love getting tested by getting the best sparring from the most elite fighters I can find and see where I’m at. I want to know how far I can go. Carl is a very nice guy. I got to be in with arguably the best super middleweight in the world.’’
As expectations rise, Rodriguez continues to express an extreme dedication to his craft and to the people who matter most in his life.
“I believe everyone in the world has something they fight for,’’ he said. “I fight for my family and wife and definitely for my kids because they’ve fought all their lives and now it’s my turn to fight for them.”
A brutal body puncher, Rodriguez is coming off of a devastating second-round TKO over Chris Traietti last Aug. 20 in a bout in which he broke two of Traietti’s ribs. Nine of Rodriguez’ last 11 fights have ended inside the distance.
Rosinksy, the first unbeaten fighter Rodriguez has faced, was the 2005 United States Amateur light heavyweight champion. Rodriguez was the U.S. Boxing national champion at 168 pounds the same year, and both he and Rosinksy traveled together to China and other locations representing the U.S.
A registered Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), the 5-foot-10 Rosinksy won his lone start this year with a 2:20, first-round TKO over Jose Ramirez in a wild affair last July 20 in which both boxers went down. In his outing before last, he scored a lopsided eight-round decision over previously unbeaten Yasin Abdur-Rashid (7-0) on Nov. 20, 2010. Rosinsky will be making his ShoBox debut.
“I felt that accepting this fight was the perfect decision,” Rosinsky said. “I feel that I will really be able to showcase my skills as a professional fighter, and what better than to do it on SHOWTIME.’’
In the co-feature at Foxwood Resorts Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., undefeated junior welterweight Gabriel “Tito” Bracero (17-0, 3 KOs) of Brooklyn, N.Y., takes on Daniel “The Hudson Valley Kid’’ Sostre (11-4-1, 4 KOs) of Highland, N.Y., in a 10-round clash of Puerto Ricans for the vacant North American Boxing Federation (NABF) title. It is the first of two consecutive Friday ShoBox telecasts, the second in three weeks, and the fourth in eight weeks.
Bracero, who won his ShoBox debut with an impressive eight-round decision over Danny O’Connor, recorded knockouts in his last two starts in 2011, including a third-round stoppage over Dan Van Stadden in his most recent outing on July 3. An excellent technician, Bracero turned pro in March 2001 and competed regularly through March 2002 before stopping for 7 1/2 years. The 30-year-old has fought 12 times since resuming his career in March ‘09. Fourteen of his 15 pro starts have ended in decisions.
“I’ve been working more on setting down my punches,’’ said Bracero, who’s father was a prizefighter. “I got into trouble and my career got sidetracked, but I’m back now and looking to make up for lost time.’’
Sostre, a pro since April 2005, captured the New York state welterweight championship in January 2009 and had made three successful defenses.
The 27-year-old Sostre had a nine-fight winning streak snapped two fights ago when, in his first match in a little more than a year, he and Damian Frias fought to a split eight-round draw on April 8. In his last start, he lost for the first time in four years when he dropped a close eight-round decision to unbeaten Raymond Serrano on July 15.
Tickets, priced at $125, $85 and $50, are available at www.foxwoods.com or www.ticketmaster.com and by calling (800) 200-2882. Doors open at 7 p.m. ET. The first live undercard, non-televised fight is at 8.
Curt Menefee will call the ShoBox action from ringside with Steve Farhood and Antonio Tarver serving as expert analysts. Gordon Hall is the executive producer of ShoBox with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV