In early September when South Africa’s Nkosinathi Joyi
took his then-unbeaten record and IBF strawweight title to Mexico for his first
fight outside of his homeland, he met fringe contender Mario Rodriguez, 15-6-4
(11). It was widely thought of as merely a routine defence for Joyi to stay
active; however, “Dragoncito” had other ideas. He knew how big the opportunity
was and gave it his all, determined not to lose in front of his own fans. Though
behind, much like “The Little Engine that Could,” Rodriguez just kept coming
until, when in the seventh stanza, a body shot landed, leaving the defending
champion in a crumbled heap on the canvas unable to beat the count. In winning,
Rodriguez, now 24, achieved his dream of winning a world title and became
Guasave, Sinaloa’s first ever world champion.
Anson Wainwright - Congratulations on
beating Nkosinathi Joyi to win the IBF strawweight title. Can you tell us about
Mario Rodriguez - First I want to thank you about the congratulations. It
was a hard fight. We fought on the inside. We threw lots of punches.
AW - There are rumours you may go to
South Africa for a rematch. What can you tell us about that?
MR - They told us about that, a possible rematch in South Africa if the
fight was very close. If they contact us, it will be a pleasure for me to pay
them the visit to South Africa.
AW - Who are the members of your team?
Also where do you regularly train?
MR – Well, my team is my trainer, Jacinto “Cachoron” Diaz. I’ve been with
him all my career, his son, Agapito Diaz, and Saul Verdugo, of whom I’m very
grateful because, without them, I couldn’t make it happen and win that world
title. My promoter is Erik Morales, who I’m very grateful with him as well for
giving me this opportunity and having trusted me. I train in Deportivo Pimber
Camacho Gym in Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico.
AW - At the beginning of your career in your career, you lost many fights. How
has this helped you and improved you as a boxer?
MR - That’s right. In my first fights, I had some losses but it helps me to
grow up in this sport. I learned more from the losses than victories.
AW - You’re from Guasave, Sinaloa. Could you tell
us about your younger days?
MR - When I was younger, I really liked to live in the
fields. The life in the fields made me stronger because of the fresh air, very
good people and life here. I really enjoy it.
AW - What are your thoughts on the other
champions at strawweight?
MR - It could be an exciting to unify.
AW - In 2010, you lost on points to
Donnie Nietes in a world title fight. Could you tell us about the experience?
MR - It was a fight where I didn’t have enough experience like right now
but I learned a lot in that fight, which has helped me in my career to be a
AW - What goals do you have in boxing
now that you are a world champion?
MR - Keep training hard in the gym and try to overcome all my goals.
AW - Growing up, who was your boxing idol?
MR - Julio Cesar
Chavez Sr. and Ricardo “Finito” Lopez.
AW - Do you have a message for the
- If you really want, you can really do it and make it happen just like I did.
Nobody believed in me and I won the world title, thanks to God and my big effort
of my training in the gym. Work hard; keep trying until you get it.