By Keith Idec
MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Jason Escalera really aggravated Edwin Rodriguez during the promotion of their HBO main event Saturday night.
Rodriguez made Escalera pay for talking trash by battering his game-but-green opponent throughout their seven-plus rounds of one-sided action at MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Referee Steve Smoger mercifully prevented Escalera from taking more punishment when he jumped it to stop the bout 12 seconds into the eighth round of a scheduled 10-round super middleweight match that was televised as the main event of an “Boxing After Dark” tripleheader.
Rodriguez’s assault started almost as soon as the bell rang and it appeared as if the Worcester, Mass., native might stop the overmatched Escalera in the first round. The courageous Escalera made it out of the round, but each of the three judges — Glenn Feldman, Peter Hary and Clark Sammartino — scored the first three-minute period, 10-8, for Rodriguez, despite that he didn’t drop Escalera.
Rodriguez was way ahead (70-61, 70-62, 70-62) at the time of the stoppage. Sammartino also scored the fifth round, 10-8, for Rodriguez, which accounted for his 70-61 score through seven rounds.
“I was surprised he got out of the first round,” said Rodriguez, who improved to 22-0 and registered his 15th knockout. “He’s definitely a strong kid — tough, with raw power, but easy to predict.”
The 27-year-old Escalera (13-1-1, 12 KOs) was taken to a local hospital after the bout for what was believed to be an ear injury.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, was busy plotting his next move within the stacked 168-pound division.
“We want any of the top 10 guys, definitely [Kelly] Pavlik,” Rodriguez said. “I wanted to send a message [Saturday night] and I think my performance speaks for itself.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.