From Sparring Pacquiao To His First Main Event Bout, Julian Rodriguez Up To The Task


GettyImages_452746898They say when opportunity comes knocking on your door, you have to grasp it. When Felix Verdejo, one of Top Rank’s most promising prospects pulled out of his scheduled main event fight this Saturday in Tampa Bay, televised on Unimas. Julian “Hammer Hands” Rodriguez (8-0, & KO’s gets the push to the main event. Based out of New Jersey and a highly decorated amateur himself, Rodriguez is another one of Top Rank’s promising prospects who jumped at the opportunity to headline his first professional card

“I react well to being under pressure,” Rodriguez told

Rodriguez is fighting in his first eight round bout but if his past fights tell you anything, it’s that his fights don’t usually go the distance. But he feels ready to go eight if need be.

“I’m ready, I been training really hard in the gym,” stated Rodriguez. “I have been sparring 8 and 10 rounds. I expect to go the full 8 but if there’s an opponent I’m going to take it. I hear my opponent is going to be tough and been in there with a couple of good guys. The motivation of the camera and atmosphere is what we’re working hard for and it’s just the beginning.”

Raul Tovar, who plays the role of possible spoiler, has been in with the likes of Danny O’Connor, Chris Algieri, and Jessie Vargas. He lost all three of those fights but went the full distance with all 3. Should Rodriguez stop Tovar, it would really be a statement. But Rodriguez has his eye on the W; however, he gets it.

“It’ll make a huge statement (if I stop Tovar),” explained Rodriguez. “I was talking to people from Top Rank and they were saying the same thing. But that’s not what my goal is, my goal is to look like a season, mature fighter and show my intellect and come out of the fight clean. However I do it, it depends on the situation. If the opportunity comes, I’m going to take it. So we’ll see how he reacts to that.”

Although this is Rodriguez first official main event, he feels if the chance didn’t come now, it would eventually come down the line this year.

“I didn’t think this show would be (my first main event),” Rodrigez said. “But Top Rank was pleased with how I was looking. They were going to put me on several main events. It was crazy at how it came so suddenly, but it’s better for me.”

There are always nerves before a fighter gets in the ring, for Rodriguez is no different. However, he feels it keeps him focused. If he is impressive, the doors are wide open for more dates especially as Top Rank’s Bob Arum told that Network deals are on the horizon for his company. Rodriguez feels these are good times to be in boxing.

“We just got done talking with Top Rank last night about it, that Bob’s getting these network deals,” Rodriguez said. “Its great news for us in the beginning of our career. They’re really talking about pushing me hard this year. Once we get the network deals, who know what’s going to happen. I can’t even imagine how great it’s going to be. But it’s extra motivation, I just have to be focused.”

Rodriguez is managed by Pat Lynch, who also manages Glen Tapia and once managed the late great Arturo Gatti. Both Tapia and Rodriguez have been in camp with Pacquiao and are former Manny Pacquiao sparring partners. Pacquiao will likely open camp March 8th for his fight with Floyd Mayweather. Should Tapia come out clean, he may help Pacquiao in camp once again in a fight the world has been waiting for, a fight that Rodriguez is undecided on the victor.

“It really depends on which Manny (Pacquiao) and (Floyd) Mayweather show up,” stated Rodriguez. “I think this fight should have happened five years ago. He goes into camp March 8th; my fight is this weekend. So we’re not sure if we’re going into Pacquiao camp. I guess they’re looking to see how I come out of camp. Floyd’s never really fought anyone like Manny if you look at it. I can’t tell you who I think is going to win. I hope it’s a good fight and both come in shape and give the fans the fight we’ve been waiting for.”