By Jake Donovan
The past calendar year has been uncharacteristically kind to Delvin Rodriguez. The hard-luck Dominican entered 2011 having won just two of his previous six bouts.
It appeared to be more of the same when after ten excruciatingly painful rounds with Pawel Wolak on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights, Rodriguez would be forced to settle for a draw in a bout in which many believed he won on the strength of his dominance over the final five rounds.
The news wasn’t all bad coming from the evening. In fact, the only downside for Rodriguez was that he didn’t leave as the official winner. News of the fight quickly circulated throughout the industry, prompting an unscheduled replay by ESPN in an unprecedented move.
Rodriguez was able to parlay the momentum into a rematch and a career-high payday in a premium slot, appearing on the televised undercard of Miguel Cotto’s pay-per-view-headlining stoppage win over Antonio Margarito in their own rematch. An hour or so earlier in the evening, Rodriguez gained his own revenge, effectively mixing boxing and brawling in taking a well-deserved wide decision win.
The bout marked just his second at 154, both fights coming against Wolak who couldn’t drop any lower in weight. The rise from welterweight actually proved to be a blessing for Rodriguez, who felt far more fluid both in the gym and eventually in the ring.
“(The fights with Wolak) was perfect way to bring me back into the picture,” Rodriguez insists. “It gave me the opportunity to showcase myself and prove that I wasn’t just making excuses about the weight. I feel great and strong. I have room to improve my skills and not just lock in on losing weight.
“It’s a tough sport. When you go to the gym and train only to make weight, you’re already putting yourself in harm’s way. You don’t get to focus on technique and properly prepare for a fight. Going to the ring hydrated makes a big difference.”
It helped put him in the win column for the first time in 20 months, and more importantly advanced him beyond the ESPN2 circuit and onto the HBO and Showtime level. The trick is now figuring out how to remain there.
Given the list of fights he’s recently been offered, chances are he won’t have a very hard time sticking around on sport’s highest stage, at least for his next fight if not beyond.
“There are a few names out there that have been mentioned to me,” Rodriguez reveals. “Canelo Alvarez. I’ve also heard K-9 (154 lb. titlist Cornelius Bundrage), Sergei Dzinziruk (former titlist) and Erislandy Lara. There are options out there.”
The only problem now is figuring out the proper combination of the right opportunity and minimal amount of downtime.
“I’m maintaining myself in the gym, but it’s time to move forward. I’m getting a little anxious to fight. I don’t think I’m too far from the bigger fights at 154. I’m trying to get my name recognized.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected] .