November 9, 2011

KO Digest exclusive Q&A with Edwin "La Bomba" Rodriguez!‏

La Bomba!
If boxing can be seen as a game of human chess, then super middleweight contender Edwin "La Bomba" Rodriguez can be seen as a Knight both in the ring and on the chess board. That's because like a Knight in the game of chess, Edwin Rodriguez likes to make unpredictable moves in the ring and he uses that unpredictability to set up his opponents for checkmate. With an undefeated record of 20-0 w/ 14 KOs, Rodriguez has checkmated all twenty of his opponents.

Rodriguez knows that boxing is a thinking man's sport, and by all accounts, he is a thinking man's fighter. Don't believe me? Then challenge him to a fight or to a game of chess and chances are that he'll beat you in both! In this exclusive one-on-one interview with KO Digest, Edwin Rodriguez discusses his recent SHOBOX fight with Will Rosinsky, the scoring controversy that followed it, and his love of chess, as well as other topics including his thoughts on the possibility of a rematch as well as the friendly rivalry that has now developed between himself and Rosinsky. 

KO Digest: Hi Edwin, on behalf of KO Digest, let me thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.

Edwin Rodriguez: Thank you for having me buddy, I really appreciate it.

KO Digest: I've heard that you're an avid chess player. Is that true, and if so, can you talk about your love for the game of chess?

Rodriguez: Yes, it is. I started playing chess in middle school. I learned how to play in the seventh grade. By the next year I was already the champion of my high school and we'd play against other schools. I did very well. I used to do tournaments but I haven't been very active lately.

KO Digest: Some people have called boxing human chess. Are there similarities between boxing and chess?

Rodriguez: A lot. They're very similar other than in chess, you don't get hurt. It's a thinking game. With every move you're making on a chess board you're trying to set up your opponent for the knockout and in chess it's basically the same, you're trying to set your opponent up for checkmate. It's the same mentality, there are times when you want to let your opponents think that they have something, and then you come back with a counterattack. Same thing in chess, you let your opponent take a piece but you have to be careful because it might be a trap.

KO Digest: When you fight in the ring, which chess piece is Edwin Rodriguez?

Rodriguez: I'm the Knight. That's because I make a lot of unpredictable moves and in chess, the Knight is very unpredictable. Like the Knight in chess, I can do a lot of things that my opponent is not expecting.

Knight takes King, checkmate!
KO Digest: Congratulations on the recent win over Will Rosinsky on SHOBOX. Can you talk a little about what it was like to be in there fighting so hard against a fighter you considered to be a friend?

Rodriguez: It was extremely hard and not just because he was a friend but because he was a very good fighter. A lot of people before the fight, they didn't give him enough credit but I knew how good he was five years ago. That's because we were on the same amateur team, I knew how hard he worked, and I knew how much he wanted it. So I knew more than anybody how good of a fighter he was and I knew the kind of shape that I would need to get into and how hard I would have to train to be able to beat such a good opponent like Will Rosinsky. The Showtime commentators in our fight, they didn't give him enough credit because they didn't know who he was. He was never on TV before, he got dropped by a guy who was 11-11, it happens but they didn't give him enough credit for being the good fighter that he is. But I knew, and I was prepared for that.
Rodriguez ready for anything against Rosinsky
KO Digest: Is that from sparring with Rosinsky in the past or is that from seeing him fight?

Rodriguez: We were roommates at one point in the amateurs. We trained together. We only sparred once and I don't really remember it so it wasn't because of sparring, it was because of all the time that we spent together. We were in camp for 4-5 weeks at a time together so I knew him better than anybody else.

KO Digest: Was Will Rosinsky your toughest opponent to date?

Rodriguez: Yes, for sure! He just kept coming forward. It was an entertaining fight and it was very intense!

KO Digest: It was a very entertaining fight to watch for boxing fans but let's talk about the controversial scoring. All three judges scored the fight 100-90, giving you every round. Was that an accurate reflection of what happened in the ring?

Rodriguez: No, not at all. I don't think so. The way I look at it, the judges had the right winner. I felt I won by 2 or 3 points. I'd say 98-92 or 97-93 would be OK but 100-90? That was definitely a slap in the face because the fight was much closer than that.

KO Digest: Have you watched the fight on TV since?

Rodriguez: Yes I have and let me tell you it's a whole different fight when you see it on TV and hear the commentators than when you don't hear the commentators. The Showtime commentators didn't give him a enough credit, therefore everything that he was doing that they weren't expecting him to do - they gave him more credit for it because they weren't expecting it from him. They all scored it a draw 95-95, but I didn't feel it was 95-95. I beat him by 2 or 3 points and I think that's what created even more controversy - the judges scores and the commentators having the fight a draw. It was a close fight, very entertaining every round but because it was so entertaining and because I was supposed to win easy - which I don't think was fair to him or to me - because we had the same level of amateur accomplishment. I just think because they didn't know him, he wasn't on the national scene on TV before, that's why they weren't giving him enough credit. So every time he did something they weren't expecting him to do, they were giving him more credit than they should have because to them, he wasn't supposed to do that, when in fact it was two very good fighters with good amateur backgrounds fighting eachother. It should have just been seen as a good close fight that I won instead of it being so dramatic with the controversial scoring. It's upsetting that such a good fight will only be remembered because of the judges who gave me every round. It shouldn't be like that.

KO Digest: Do you feel that the controversial scoring took something away from you and your victory?

Rodriguez: Of course. It took a lot away. It was a war, a fight that fans liked watching. I threw about 800 punches, Will threw like 600 and he kept coming forward with the pressure. So I do think that the controversy took something away from my win but it also took something away from a good fight.

KO Digest: Rosinsky has said since the fight that he thinks he won the fight. What do you think about his recent comments and is there anything to what he's saying?

Rodriguez: (sounding anguished) He can say whatever he wants. I think he went home, watched the fight on TV and saw that the commentators were giving him a lot of credit and that they scored it a draw. And so Will was like, 'Oh shoot, I could get away with this, I could actually make something out of it.' So I think that's what he's doing. I think that because the commentators scored it so close, a draw - he and everybody he knows now think they have something to say because of that. And definitely the judges giving me every round didn't help the situation either. After the fight, Will said that whether it's 96-94 or 100-90, he still lost the fight. Maybe I'm crazy if I'm making that up but that was his comment, I remember him saying that. Also, even his own trainer said on Facebook that he thought Will lost the fight 96-94 and his comment was that the fight should have been scored closer but his fighter still lost. That's coming from his own trainer! And now they want to backtrack because of the commentators scoring it so close, now they have an argument. I don't agree with the judges or the commentators.

He said what?
KO Digest: You were quoted in an interview that recently ran on Boxing Scene as saying in response to Will's recent comments to "stop being a punk." Did you say that? And as a pretty humble guy, can you talk about the frustration that would lead you to say something like that about a person you consider to be a friend?

Rodriguez: Honestly, I'm not going to sit here and say I didn't say that because I don't remember saying that but if the reporter quoted it, it's because I said it. I'm not going to be like Will and come back later and say that I didn't lose the fight when he said in the interview after the fight that he lost. I do apologize for my actions, but I let the emotions about the scoring of the fight and about him coming out in interviews and saying that DiBella or whoever - that the fight was already given to me before the fight even started. He got the better of me and I do have to apologize for that.

KO Digest: How would you describe your relationship with Will Rosinsky now? It's interesting that two fighters can be friends before and throughout a fight and then that friendship can be threatened by just a few words.

Rodriguez: Enemies in boxing fight and sometimes they become friends. Sometimes friends fight in boxing and they become enemies. It's different now. I'm not his friend. I'm not his enemy. Let's just say we've become rivals now.

KO Digest: Is a rematch with Rosinsky something you would consider or is Edwin Rodriguez moving on to bigger and better things?

Rodriguez: I am moving on to bigger and better things but I do feel that Will is a very good fighter and he's gonna do good for himself, and I hope that he does because I'd love to fight him again.

KO Digest: You've sparred with some real good fighters. Who are some of the guys you've sparred with and what did you learn from those experiences?

Rodriguez: I've sparred with Jean Pascal, Carl Froch, Daniel Geale, and Chad Dawson. I went into those experiences with a real learning mentality. I paid close attention to everything they did in terms of nutrition and strength conditioning. I really learned how a world champion boxer runs their camp.

KO Digest: As a body puncher, some people have compared you to guys like Micky Ward - that's very high praise. How did you become such a proficient body puncher and is that something that came naturally to you or did you have to learn that?

Rodriguez: I think it was a little bit of both. I had a couple KO's in the amateurs from body punches and in the gym I put a lot of guys down with body shots, so I think that's how it started sticking with me. I liked the way it felt after I put a couple guys down in the gym with body punches, so I brought it into the fights.

KO Digest: Were you surprised at how well Will Rosinsky stood up to your body attack?

Rodriguez: If I tell you I was surprised, I'd be lying. Will has a huge heart, I knew that coming in. My game-plan was to box, to stay on the outside, to stay busy and I think I did all of that.

KO Digest: Critics of Edwin Rodriguez would say that you sometimes brawl when you should box and that you're in a constant struggle between being boxer and a brawler. Is there any truth to that and what is that struggle like for you when you're in the ring and getting hit?

Rodriguez: 100% that's true! But I'm a fighter, and fighters fight. I do have a new trainer now in Ronnie Shields and we're working on fixing my mistakes and being more defensive minded but at the end of the day I'm a boxer-puncher-brawler. I try to do a little of everything and stay away from the brawling and getting hit with silly punches.

KO Digest: You mentioned your trainer, Ronnie Shields. What makes Ronnie such a good fit for you?

Rodriguez: Ronnie is a great trainer but it's not just that, he's also a great person. It's so easy to trust him because he's such a good person. When you're in the ring and somebody is trying to take your head off and you go back to that corner, it's so easy to be able to relate to and listen to somebody that you have such a good relationship with and that's the biggest strength of Ronnie- he's such a good person and he really cares about his fighters. Now with that said, he's also one of the few real teachers left in the boxing game. Boxing used to have a lot of great trainers, now we don't have that many so I'm glad to have Ronnie in my corner.

Teacher and student, Shields and Rodriguez
KO Digest: Can you talk about your relationship with your manager Larry Army? As a boxing manager, he's relatively inexperienced but he seems to be doing a very job of guiding your career along. Is this a typical boxer/manager relationship or is it something more special between you two?

Rodriguez: Larry is my best friend. Whenever I'm feeling down, I'm calling him, and whenever he's feeling down, he's calling me. He's my best friend, that really explains it all and he's really good at what he does.

KO Digest: Moving forward, there have a been a few names mentioned as future big name opponents for you. Kelly Pavlik and Allan Green. Now in terms of fighting a big name, who would you personally prefer to fight if your were your own manager and your own matchmaker?

Rodriguez: One of those two guys. There are a ton of guys in my weight class, super middlweight. It's a talented weight class. I just threw those names out there because they're top ten and I want to fight somebody in the top ten, somebody that will get me to that world championship level.

KO Digest: Who will win the Super 6 Finals between Ward and Froch and of the elite fighters in your weight class, guys like Ward, Froch, Bute, and Kessler - who do you think you match up best with?

Rodriguez: I think me and Kessler would be a great fight. I'm friends with Carl Froch and I was in camp with him. I learned a lot from him in sparring. Froch is a very strong, very powerful super middlweight and I think it's gonna be a great fight between him and Andre Ward because Ward has a very good style and Froch knows how to adapt. But my money is on Carl Froch.

Froch battles Kessler
KO Digest: As one of the top young contenders in boxing, what did you learn from the Rosinsky fight and the controversy that followed it?

Rodriguez: To think positive and to just keep moving forward.

KO Digest: Thank you Edwin, and good luck.

Rodriguez: Thank you for the interview and thanks to all the fans for keeping up. I just hope 2012 is gonna be a big year for me!