That’s two fights in a row now where super middleweight prospect Edwin Rodriguez has looked like a marginal prospect at best, let alone one of the elite guys out there. In the Friday Night Fights supporting bout on ESPN2, Rodriguez got a wide unanimous decision win in a fight that was actually extremely close to the naked eye, even with a bogus point deduction on his opponent, Aaron Pryor, Jr.. But what really was revealing was not whether Rodriguez deserved to win. The incredibly tall Pryor was supposed to be a modest test, and he did his part, but Rodriguez was just plain terrible. The 4th round shoulder injury surely didn’t help. But even before then, all the bad habits Rodriguez put on display in his previous bout against Buddy McGirt, Jr. were present, and even amplified.
When he was just standing there, Rodriguez’ defense was fine. But when he opened up with those long, slinging shots, his hands stayed down far too long, his chin stayed far too high in the air and his balance was atrocious, allowing Pryor to connect with flush, head-snapping shots. I’m not sure why Rodriguez appears to be getting worse rather than better, but he needs to get to work on these things or he will get brutally knocked out by the first opponent he faces who can punch at all.
In the main event, Peter Manfredo, Jr. was getting outworked and outquicked early by Daniel Edouard in his return to middleweight, but he turned it around in the 4th with what appeared to be a sure knockout punch. As Eduoard inexplicably stepped back from a clinch with his hands down, Manfredo connected on a short right that dropped him slowly, face-first, to the canvas. The sturdy Edouard somehow got back up, but he was never the same for the rest of the fight, with his legs shaken, his mouth bloodied and his punch volume dropped. Manfredo never took his foot off the gas but couldn’t finish Edouard, who said beforehand that he would quit boxing if he lost. If so — and it seems wise, considering the beatings he’s taken over the years in some wars — thanks for some good brawls, Daniel.
Manfredo, then, sets himself up for that one last run he said he wanted. There were no indicators it would work out any better for him this time than the others, as he has lost when he has stepped up in class. But wins like this can help make him a viable name for an elite boxer looking for an opponent people recognize and who more often than not makes for entertaining battles (as he did Friday night; in fact, both fights were fairly entertaining on FNF) yet isn’t too dangerous to score the upset.
One final note: ESPN’s Teddy Atlas retracted his declaration from last week that former boxer Micky Ward’s mother had died, and said he shouldn’t have gone on the air with information about which he was not 100 percent sure. It’s an embarrassing mistake, to be sure. But this counts as progress for Atlas. He’s a great fight analyst — corny, stretched-out metaphors and all — but he has shown a disturbing tendency to put questionable information on the air, then get defensive and lash out about how he wants to quit boxing when people call him on it. We’d all be better off if Atlas didn’t act like a reporter at all, but if he’s going to insist on it, maybe this will serve as a lesson to him to think before he speaks. And an acknowledgement that he even can be wrong — a useful quality that more folk need to have — is a positive trait for him to exhibit.