By Jake Donovan
The September 29 edition of HBO’s Boxing After Dark came about due to a leftover favor from former boss Ross Greenburg’s tenure with the network. The card itself was originally slated to appear on a series that was intended for HBO2 but never came to fruition.
Promoter Lou DiBella was owed the show by the network and has made the most of the opportunity given the circumstances (particularly the modest budget well below the normal B.A.D. license fee). A televised tripleheader is in store and takes place at Foxwood’s MGM Grand in Mashantucket, Conn.
The show stars Edwin Rodriguez, who fights out of Massachusetts and has developed a cult following in the New England era. His 10-round bout with fellow unbeaten super middleweight Jason Escalera tops a card that also places undefeated prospects Luis ‘Orlandito’ del Valle and Isaac Chilemba in separate crossroads bouts with former champs Vic Darchinyan and Zsolt Erdei, respectively.
Rodriguez (21-0, 14KO) has proven his loyalty to DiBella as well as his manager (Larry Army) – by sticking with the date. The Dominican transplant had bigger opportunities on his plate – namely showdowns with Kelly Pavlik and Adonis Stevenson – and could have easily bailed on this show. Instead, he showed faith in his team who in turn have already begun planning for the future.
“We’re looking to get together with Top Rank to have Edwin face Kelly Pavlik if he’s able to get past Escalera,” DiBella revealed during a recent media conference call to drum up interest for the show.
“But this is the type of fight card and kind of fight, where nobody on this card can afford to look past their opponents.”
The same can be said of del Valle (16-0, 11KO), who continues to impress even as his opposition level escalates. The rising Puerto Rican prospect takes on his toughest test to date, even with Darchinyan (37-5-1, 22KO) on a two-fight losing streak and moving up in weight to the 122 lb. division.
“I’m looking at him as the toughest fight of my career,” del Valle insists. “I’m not looking past him. We know that he comes with experience. We know that we belong at this level and we’re coming to prove it. I can’t wait for the bell to ring on September 29.”
Waiting in the wings with a big enough win for del Valle is a potential all-Boricua showdown with Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, who still has to get past his August 4 pay-per-view headliner against Rafael Marquez. The two sides have already begun to talk, but agreed that the more serious part of the conversation will pick up after they get through their scheduled upcoming fights.
“Luis has his hands full with a three-time former world champion,” DiBella acknowledges. “This is a huge opportunity for him to prove that he belongs with the top guys at 122 lb.”
del Valle isn’t all worried about the possible double-booking. In fact, it only motivates him to look that much better in his HBO debut.
“It doesn’t distract me. I was born to do this. As long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a boxer,” del Valle insists. “The path we want to be on, it’s going to happen. Whatever my manager says is going to happen. I know we’re going to win and then Wilfredo Vazquez Jr can be next.”
Tickets for the show go on sale Friday, July 20 and can be purchased through the Foxwoods MGM Grand box office by calling (800) 200-2882. Tickets are priced at $200 (VIP), $100, $75 and $45.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox