David Rodriguez: Getting to know ‘Nino’
INTERVIEW by "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (September 6, 2005)  
David Rodriguez
Undefeated heavyweight rising star David ‘Nino’ Rodriguez 19-0 (18) wants the heavyweight division as well as the boxing world to know… ‘Nino’ is coming! The twenty-seven year old El Paso, Texas native has a love for the pugilistic sport as well as its fans and he enjoys nothing more than entertaining them, and that he does in KO fashion.

The lightening fast heavy-handed 6’5” force to be reckoned with has stopped all but one in his unblemished heavyweight campaign; seventeen has been shocked, rocked and dropped in the opening round, and he is just coming into his own as a fighter. After a stint in the amateurs ‘Nino’ stepped in the pro ranks in 1998 and his debut was an explosive first round knock out as many would be in his career.

David’s first four bouts ended in the first round until he faced the twenty-three fight veteran Martin Lopez and was taken to the third round, but the extra rounds didn’t have any ill affect on the ending as it was a just another KO victory for the hard hitter, and then it was back to the one rounders once again.

In November of 2003 the 12-0 Rodriguez faced off against the 8-1 Arkansas native Tommy Connelly for the vacant Texas State Heavyweight Title and just as eleven other opponents Nino’s power overwhelmed his opposition giving him the victory and the Texas strap in the opening round. After easily disposing of the 12-3 Jason Curry in one round Rodriguez went toe-to-toe against the forty-seven fight veteran Jeff Paul Lally for the vacant New Mexico State Heavyweight Title. All though Lally had losing efforts to Jeremy Williams, David Tua and Lou Saverese, he had clearly been in the square with some talent and had experience, and even had a huge W over the 38-4 Gary Steiger, but once again it wasn’t enough and he fell out three times to the crushing power David had to offer, giving the young star another first round victory and another belt to add to his collection.

David went on to stun, stagger and stamp out three more opponents in the first round before going the distance for the first time last April. In a bout where he had his opponent John Turlington shaken up in every round he went on to earn the W by unanimous decision, giving the young fighter a perfect 19-0 (18) record.

There have been some ups and downs in the seven year career of Rodriguez, some are the same obstacles many young fighters face and some are different, but he has persevered and is now ready to continue on. After sustaining an injury to his left hand during a sparring session months back David underwent surgery and at this time is just about healed up and hopefully can return after November. Even though he hasn’t been able to spar it doesn’t keep him from his usual road work, and one thing for sure he has a superb work ethic and looks to come back stronger than ever to make the bold statement, ‘Nino’ is back and ready to bring some more pain to the division while he climbs the heavyweight ladder.

The undefeated heavyweight took the time out to speak to the Doghouse and gave his thoughts on his career as well as his projected bright future, enjoy.

Benny Henderson Jr.: First off what inspired you to want to lace up the gloves?

David Rodriguez:
Actually I didn’t know any better to tell you the truth, I started hitting the mitts when I was about five years old and I never ever thought that I would become a fighter, it was just something I was doing as a kid to have something to do. I really didn’t realize that I wanted to box until I was fifteen, I was always in trouble as a kid, I was in the office more than I was in the class room so I decided to start taking my frustrations out in the boxing ring. I was an angry teenager dealing with depression and stuff like that and my outlet was boxing. I thought to myself, shoot man I don’t get in trouble for fighting somebody in the ring you get trophies so I was like man I am going to turn pro just as soon as I can and right when I turned twenty-one I went pro.

BH: Who were some of your heroes in the sport when you were younger and are there any fighters in the sport today that you may look up to or try to emulate?

In my opinion the most entertaining and I looked up to were Ali, Mike Tyson and Larry Holmes, I always looked up to those three. But I can also say Marciano or Jack Dempsy, I could actually go down the line. I think the most entertaining fighter ever was Mike Tyson and I don’t care what anybody says, whether he could have beaten Ali or not he was the most exciting fighter to me for the money.

BH: Your last bout was in April where you fought to your first four round decision, you have only went past the first round once prior to that last fight, how was it going to the scorecards for the first time and actually going the distance? I mean you had to be used to your opponents falling out after tasting your power and John must have been a tough fight for yourself?

Yeah I rocked him and almost had him out in every single round but I believe my weight with me being so heavy I couldn’t put the finishing touches on him. It was like I was just thumping him, I didn’t have that snap. I knew after the first round that it was probably going to go the distance because he was smart enough not to trade with me with backing up a lot and moving. I am not taking anything away from that guy, he was a tough guy, I just feel that I wasn’t at my complete best by any means and I shouldn’t have got in there as heavy as I was, but what can I say, it is done. I got to say that I landed some hard shots and the guy took them so he was unbelievable. And I also think it was good for me to go those rounds because I think it boosted my confidence that I can go a little longer and that I don’t have to knock everybody out so quick. You got to get that in your mind, once you start cracking people and they take them you start thinking ah oh, so I think this was good for me.

BH: You have been in the pro ranks for seven years now and have had a successful campaign since turning pro, what have you learned about the sport with your experiences in and out of the ring that you could help others as far as advice?

I would say just be careful with the people you deal with, that’s the main thing you know. And there is no substitute for training hard, you got to have a killer instinct. There has to be something inside you that wants that knock out or that blood. You have to sacrifice your life to train hard, stay away from the shady people, and in boxing there are a lot of shady people.

BH: For the ones who haven’t seen David Rodriguez fight, how would you describe your style and your strong points in your arsenal?

I am definitely a boxer puncher; I can change it on a dime. I think my left hook and once I get somebody hurt I am a great finisher. I come to fight every time, and I give it all when I am fighting.

BH: You have sparred with the likes of James Toney, Lamon Brewster, Joe Mesi, Hasim Rahman, Lou Savarese and Frans Botha, what did you take away from these sparring sessions, and out of all these men who was the hardest hitter and most intriguing to work with?

Okay, the hardest hitter was Hasim Rahman, and Lou Saverese also. But what I learned from all of them is that you better be a tough S.O.B. to get in there with them guys. (Laughs) These guys don’t mess a round. I learned so much from Joe Mesi more so than any of them because of his work ethic, he is a very articulate and intellectual guy and it is a shame what happened to him. He has shown me a lot and my respect just goes out to him. But every single one of those guys I boxed with has taught me something and I continue to learn from those guys, and even the day I fight one of those cats I will still learn something from them. I took bundles of knowledge away from all of them when I spared with them.

BH: In your opinion, when do you feel that you would be ready to step up in competition and make a run at the top 20?

I’m thinking anytime now, I am definitely not in a hurry, I believe in doing it right the first time. I believe this is a process and due to hand injuries it has held me back, but we are still going to go at the pace we are at. We will start fighting better fighters and move on, but I am not concerned with what people think. I am not concerned at all because they are not in the ring fighting. Critics and all that is great with all what they do and all that but I am more concerned with the opponents I am fighting. I fight one at a time and I get better with each and every fight. I jut want to be the best that I can be in this sport and hopefully people will enjoy watching me.

BH: What is your favorite pastime when you are not in the ring or training for a bout?

Most of the time I like to read, or I rent movies. I still have a lot of friends from high school and we still get together and hang out. We have fun, they don’t look at me as a fighter and I don’t look at them any differently, we are all just best friends.

BH: What do you feel separates you from the other heavyweight prospects in the division today?

I believe what separates me is yet to tell from any of us really; it will be a matter of winning and losing when we fight. I can say what I want right now but the truth is once we all fight that is when we will find out. Nothing I say right now will make any difference.

BH: What can the fight world expect from you in the next two years?

To consistently be getting better.

BH: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview or say in closing?

I am definitely going to try to bring respect to the sport of boxing and I respect boxing to the fullest, I love the sport with all of my heart and I hope the fans know that I do this for the love of the sport.

I would like to thank David’ manger Bob Spagnola for helping out with his interview, and a big shout out goes to Nino himself for his time and thoughts. For more info on David please visit: www.ninoboxing.com David also would like to recognized as a www.fighters-of-faith.com .
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