When Edwin Rodriguez takes on Craig Baker on Saturday in Boston, he’s returning not only to his home territory, but also to the area of one of his most memorable victories. It will be his first fight in New England since 2012.
Since that bout nearly three years ago, Edwin Rodriguez has fought in California and Monaco—about as far apart as you could have a couple of fights without going to the Sea of Tranquility.
But that underscores just how important venues can be in a fighter’s career. Whether they’re comfortable in one area or prefer to travel far and wide, where the ring is located can often have a big impact on what goes on inside it. That’s why for his Greatest Hits, Rodriguez was especially venue-conscious.
3 vs. Will Rosinsky, October 21, 2011, at Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut
Rodriguez started his career mostly bouncing around smaller venues in the Northeast, but in 2011 he got his shot at one of the bigger joints in the area when the call came to fight at Foxwoods.
He squared up with Will Rosinsky, a New York native who was just a little farther out from Mashantucket as Rodriguez was from his hometown of Worcester. It made for a New York-New England partisan crowd right around the dividing line between Red Sox Nation and the Yankee Empire.
Good atmosphere, then, but a lopsided fight. Rodriguez peppered Rosinsky for 10 rounds, earning himself a 100-90 decision on all three cards.
“He was a pretty good amateur,” Rodriguez said. “It was one of the fights that got me to the next level. There were a lot of close rounds. I thought I beat him 8-2 after watching the fight, but there were a lot of close rounds.”
Close, maybe, but still, at the end of the day, it was a one-sided victory. Even in the moment, Rodriguez said, you still have a pretty clear picture of how the fight is going.
“You just know throughout the fight,” he said. “Even getting hit, you’re coming back and outlanding the person. You’re outfighting him. You just know. At the end of the fight he knew he lost. I knew I won.”
2 vs. Denis Grachev, July 13, 2013, at Casino de Monte Carlo in Monaco
How quickly would you say “yes” to taking part in the Monte Carlo Million Dollar Super Four? You get a couple of trips to Monaco out of the deal, and a shot at the winner’s share of a million dollar purse. You’re already winning at life when you get an invite like that. It’s just that Rodriguez turned it into winning, period.
In the opening round of the four-man tournament, Rodriguez earned a comfortable decision over Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna on March 30, 2013.
The championship round, for the healthy end of a 60-40 split on that million bucks, came almost four months later at a catch weight of 171.5 pounds. Denis Grachev had upset Zsolt Erdei in March to reach the final.
Rodriguez proceeded to positively demolish Grachev, stopping him at 2:50 of the first round. That extra $200,000 came in handy in the notoriously spendy Monaco.
“It was amazing,” he said. “They had Michael Buffer announcing, which was also pretty cool. Being announced by that guy hyped me up. It was a great city. Everything was overpriced, but other than that it was cool. You go to the machines and you have to start at $300,000 or more, I’m like, ‘no thanks.’ Forty-five dollars for orange juice? I’m not drinking that again.”
1 vs. Don George, March 17, 2012, at Madison Square Garden in New York
After his win over Rosinsky, Rodriguez went from a venue that was the top of the regional heap to one that was the top of the boxing world. Rodriguez came into the fight unbeaten at 20-0, and at the time, George was right there with him at 22-1-1.
But Rodriguez pulled away in the fight and locked up a unanimous 10-round decision by wide margins on two of the three judges' scorecards. What was more memorable than the win, though, was the chance to get on TV and shine at such a historic venue.
“They say a lot of fighters when they make a comeback, they don’t miss the fighting part, they just miss that tunnel, walking into the ring and feeling unbeatable,” Rodriguez said. “It was an amazing feeling, especially at that place knowing a lot of legendary fighters fought there and made history there.”
For complete coverage of Rodriguez vs Baker, check out our fight page.