David Rodriguez: “My goal is to be heavyweight champion”
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing (Aug 18, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
David “El Nino” Rodriguez
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing:
Heavyweight contender David “El Nino” Rodriguez sits at the precipice of a chance at the greatest championship in the world.

Rodriguez (35-0, 33 KOs ) is now the 18th ranked heavyweight by the WBC. His third round knockout of Owen Beck last month was brutal. Rodriguez's short left hook exploded off Beck’s unprotected jaw. Beck hung in the air as if suspended then collapsed to the canvas. The victory was the biggest in Rodriguez’s 13-year career.

The 6’5 250-pound Rodriguez’s path to the heavyweight crown has been a long and at times arduous climb. Born in El Paso , Texas , Rodriguez discovered boxing at a young age and liked it immediately.

“I’ve loved the sport since I was kid,” replied Rodriguez. “When I was teenager a cop friend of mine Joe Sullivan used to take me to a gym after school to keep me out of trouble. It became a life style for me. It’s in my blood now. “

Rodriguez’s foray into the amateur ranks was short-lived. He used his ten amateur fights to figure out what he wanted to do with his life.

“I wasn’t really sure at that point that I wanted to be a boxer. I loved the workouts, but I was also playing other sports“, he said. “It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I thought to myself, I’m filled with so much frustration I need to give this a shot."

Rodriguez’s professional career began in 1998 when he knocked out James Martin in just over a minute. Since then he's recorded twenty-four first round knockouts shattering the record of one his boyhood idols, Iron Mike Tyson. His shortest KO was a twenty-second blowout of Clinton Whitehead in 2002.

Though some see his age (33) as a detriment, Rodriguez disagrees.

“I’ve always been a late bloomer. I think I’m at the peak of my career. I don’t have a lot of mileage on me. I’m a very young 33.”

Rodriguez grew up admiring Salvador Sanchez, Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez and Mike Tyson. Former undisputed heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano was his favorite.

The guy was tough,” he says chuckling. “I like guys who come to fight.”

Though he’s 35-0, Rodriguez has felt some stress in the ring.

“My fight with Pocheda (TKO7) and Marcus McGee (W8) were difficult. I wanted to prove to people that I could go the distance”, he said. "McGee even told me after the fight that he knew I could have done better. I felt terrible for months. “

Why did Rodriguez fail to shift his attack into the next gear against McGee? It wasn’t his corner, or his manager. It wasn’t the fans.

“I listened to the critics to much“, he says quietly. “I let them get the best of me. I’m finally realizing that you can't please everyone. I have to do this for myself. I feel like I’m on a mission with God. “

Rodriguez is a combination puncher with a dynamite left hook to the head and body. His right hand carries some pop too. He likes to wear his opponents down by working the body.

Last month he was able to catch some of the recent Klitscko/Haye snore fest. He wasn’t exactly impressed.

“I watched some of it and to be honest the fight was boring. Klitschko is very hard to get inside on. Don’t get me wrong though Klitschko is a great boxer. He hits very hard. His style is not very exciting and he's okay with that. That’s mind boggling to me.”

Rodriguez observed some flaws in Klitschko’s style.

“I know I have more power then that man. I’m quicker. I’m more agile and athletic. I think it would be a very exciting fight between us. Worst-case scenario is someone might be knocked out. If I risk getting knocked out, so be it. I’m not worried about that. I want to show my heart and my aggressiveness. For 35 fights it’s been working real well for me. “

Rodriguez will next lace up the leather in either late October or early November. His sense of self revolves around his feeling that his time is now.

El Nino is coming.

-- Questions/comments johnboxing1@hotmail.com

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