Top super middleweight contender Edwin Rodriguez has been quietly climbing his way up the ranks for the last two years or so and has been keeping himself busy in the hopes of positioning himself for a world title shot. For a little awhile now, although highly ranked in the top ten in all of the sanctioning bodies, Rodriguez found himself on the outside looking in while others got their shot at the title. Well all of that will change on Nov. 16 when he finally gets his opportunity to fight for a world title against WBA Super World Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward.
Although this fight was talked about for a couple months now, it was unclear whether or not it would actually take place due to a financial disagreement by both parties during the negotiations. Fortunately for the fans the two sides have come to an agreement and we can now look forward to an intriguing match-up.
Ward has fought the who’s who at super middleweight thus far in his career and has pretty much cleaned out the division by winning Showtime’s Super Six Classic Tournament back in 2011, beating all of the top champions and contenders in the process. He has clearly earned his status as the best fighter in the division and arguably the second best fighter in the world behind only Floyd Mayweather.
Rodriguez’ resume pales in comparison. Although, he is coming off of probably the most impressive victory in his career over the extremely durable Denis Grachev, knocking him out in the first round and being the only man to ever stop the tough Russian, which is something that even the highly regarded former IBF Super Middleweight Champion Lucian Bute couldn’t do. With that victory Rodriguez won the Monte Carlo Super 4 Million Dollar Tournament and earned $600,000, his largest purse to date.
Even though Rodriguez has never faced anyone even remotely close to being as skilled and talented as Ward, he shouldn’t be dismissed as a mere tune up fight.
HBO analyst Max Kellerman once said that he believes that Rodriguez is one of those fighters that does nothing great but several things good and claimed that he just might be the second best super middleweight in the world behind Ward and would probably beat everyone else in the division. Whether or not that is true remains to be seen but after watching Rodriguez perform in the ring it’s hard to deny that he is a skilled fighter.
Rodriguez is the same height as Ward, standing six feet tall, but has a five inch reach advantage which is something that could help him in the fight. He is only twenty eight years old and is younger and fresher than Ward’s most recent opponents. Rodriguez also possesses much better foot speed, athleticism, body punching, and the ability to fight on the inside than other Ward opponents such as: Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, Saiko Bika, Arthur Abraham, and Chad Dawson. Taking all of this into account, arguably Rodriguez just may be the most well rounded opponent that Ward has faced.
Lastly, it’s hard to overlook the fact that Ward has fought just once since 2011 due to hand and shoulder injuries as well as issues with his promoter and HBO. He could be a little rusty coming off of the longest layoff in his career. We really don’t know for sure what to expect?
Come November 16 we just may be in for a more competitive and entertaining fight than we bargain for.