12 Rounds With … Edwin Rodriguez

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Former super middleweight contender talks about his Feb. 17 fight, recovering from knee surgery and what it was like to portray Roberto Duran in a movie.

Edwin Rodriguez has a lot on his plate. He rebounded from his first-ever stoppage loss with a knockout victory of his own last July; then in between those two fights he had surgery to repair an ACL tear in his right knee and somehow also found the time to portray Roberto Duran in the 2016 movie Bleed for This.

Now, he is about to step in the ring against Lionell Thompson.

Rodriguez of Worcester, Massachusetts will face Thompson in a 175-pound clash of 32-year-olds on the undercard of the Danny Garcia-Brandon Rios main event airing on Showtime (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 17.

What do you know about Thompson and how important is this opportunity?

I’m excited about my first time fighting in Las Vegas, which is a great venue for boxing and a good opportunity. I’ve known Lionell since the amateurs, and he’s got good boxing skills.

I’m training hard with Ronnie Shields and looking forward to taking advantage and to continue my career with this fight on the big stage and move on up. This fight will do that for me.

How critical was your knockout of Melvin Russell following your stoppage loss to Thomas Williams and the knee injury?

It was pretty important. After the loss to Williams, I suffered the knee injury and it was important to come back right away and to insert myself into contender status.

Getting a knockout in my last fight was not as important as being able to get into the ring, move around and be mobile getting the job done, looking good and feeling good doing it.

Was your knee a factor before or during either of your fights with Williams or Russell?

My right knee injury was something I had been struggling with before the Williams fight. But after the fight, my ACL was completely gone and I had a meniscus tear.

I had had issues before the Williams fight, but after that, it got worse. So I had surgery in June of 2016 to replace the ACL and to repair the meniscus.

Was the injury a factor in your 15-month ring absence between the Williams and Russell fights?

The biggest battle I’ve endured over the past 15 months is working hard in general to maintain my conditioning and getting myself healthy.

I was working hard on the rehabbing of my knee, trying to stay in shape so much so that my knee is much stronger than it was before.

Basically, I’m to the point where I’m ready to get back in there, and I’m looking forward to showcasing my talents again on February 17.

That was like a dream come true. It was not only the opportunity to just to be in a movie, but to portray someone that I have looked up to in Roberto Duran since I started boxing. Edwin Rodriguez on his portrayal of Roberto Duran in Bleed For This

What did it mean to you to portray Roberto Duran in “Bleed For This?”

That was like a dream come true. Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Robinson are my two of my favorite fighters of all time.

It was not only the opportunity to just to be in a movie, but to portray someone that I have looked up to in Roberto Duran since I started boxing.

I’ve studied Roberto Duran because I have all of his fights, and I especially like the way that he delivers shots to the body.

I have sat and watched Roberto Duran for hours, so being able to portray him in the movie was an amazing feeling.

Was it at all intimidating portraying a legendary figure?

I wasn’t intimidated at all, man. Like I said, it was just fun trying to be somebody that you look up to. I was Roberto Duran for three months, and I refused to get out of character.

I got the chance to be Duran in the way of his attitude, his will to win, and just overall how good he was in every aspect of his style. 

I sometimes pattern myself after him because he had a combination of power and skills that changed as he rose into different weight classes as he went up.

Have you ever met or spoken Duran?

I’ve met Duran a few times, just to say hello and stuff like that. I haven’t seen him since my portrayal, but hopefully soon, and maybe in Las Vegas. I hope he thinks I did a good job. 

How was Miles Teller’s performance as Vinnie Pazienza, how much input did you have on technical aspects of boxing and was Teller helpful to you as an actor?

Miles Teller is a professional, and I thought he did a great job. He had a choreographer who helped him and who worked on the Muhammad Ali movie starring Will Smith.

But I also helped Miles to feel comfortable because working with someone else who was a little more amateurish at one point, Miles got bruised up a little bit. At first, Miles was a little intimidated by me.

But after a while, I was able to help him out with the boxing and he helped me out with my acting as far as the camera angles, where to be for the positioning and to make the most of the best shots.

We worked on a bunch of different scenes together and he was able to see my professionalism, knowing I wasn’t going to really hit him and stuff. It was fun.

What top three fights are you most proud of in your career and why?

I would say my first-round knockout of Denis Grachev in Monte Carlo. He had never been stopped before I did it. 

The fight against Will Rosinsky was another good one. We were both undefeated and it went back and forth for the full 10 rounds, all competitive rounds. 

I think the fight with Donovan George was another good one because I was able to box well and he wasn’t able to get comfortable or land any significant shots. I think that was one of my best performances. 

Given that you turn 33 in May, how long will you remain in boxing?

It’s not something that you want to have on your mind on a daily basis, but that’s something I’ll know when the time comes. 

There are some fighters who don’t know when to call it quits, but I’ve surrounded myself with good people who will help me with that decision when it’s time. 

It’s not something that’s here, right now, but when I get to that point, and we think it’s time to retire, I’m sure that I’ll listen to them.

For a closer look at Edwin Rodriguez, check out his fighter page.

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