The Round of the Year is often a small piece of a contender for Fight of the Year. The criteria for both are the same: momentum swings and sustained action. However, within many fights that are otherwise merely good, or even blowouts, there are three-minute spans that contain the kind of drama that boxing fans crave.
The 1st round of Edwin Rodriguez light heavyweight clash with Michael Seals from the Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Miss. On Nov 13 definitely fits the bill. Rodriguez has been a fringe contender at 168 and 175 pounds seemingly for years, and even if he isn’t a world-class talent, he is a reliable action fighter. Seals, on the other hand, was an unknown quantity. His resume included solely names that caused furrowed brows and eye rolls.
We went into this not quite sure of what we’d get, and given the often safety-first matchmaking of “Premier Boxing Champions,” you’d have been justified for not being overly enthusiastic. But as HBO’s Larry Merchant once said, “Boxing is the theater of the unexpected.” The unexpected is what we got.
Rodriguez came out firing, visibly staggering Seals five seconds in. Rodriguez followed up, backing Seals into a corner, keeping him there with looping shots. A lunging left hook sent Seals sliding across the ring, looking like a 300-year-old Rickey Henderson on ether just 10 seconds later.
At this point, it looked like a quick evening for Rodriguez (above). He chugged forward throwing over-over-over hand rights and winging left hooks. Seals again retreated to the ropes attempting to counter. And just at the end of the first minute of action, Seals pushed out a short right that Rodriguez practically head butted. Rodriguez dropped hard before rising to a knee and using nearly the full count to gather his bearings.
The first minute was not the wildest in recent memory, but contained a sudden momentum change that was as unexpected to the audience as it was to Rodriguez. Suddenly it seemed that we had a real fight on our hands, where just moments earlier, it looked like another desultory mismatch.
The next 90 seconds of action were tactical, but lively. Both men, having tasted the canvas, proceeded with more caution. The air of suspense remained, because we all knew that we were only one clean punch from something big.
With just 20 seconds remaining, Rodriguez again looked to press a confident Seals. Seals circled left and away. Rodriguez threw out a limp jab and winded up a home run right. And just like that, left hand still down, right hand beginning its circumnavigational arc, and chin hanging out for all the world to see, Rodriguez lunged into another straight right from Seals. Seals stepped slightly into the punch, and Rodriguez’s momentum was halted immediately.
Rodriguez jerked backward, his arms flailing comically overhead as he sprawled awkwardly. It’s one of the funniest knockdowns you’ll ever see. Rodriguez looked like he’d been tased. Instinctively, Rodriguez tried to rise, but fell back slightly onto his arms. Somehow he managed to beat the count, the bell sounding just a few seconds later.
Rodriguez-Seals had dramatic moment swings, good action, and moments of levity. And that, boys, girls, and other humans, is why it is TQBR’s Round of the Year.