by David P. Greisman
Ronnie Shields has been working with Edwin Rodriguez for a few fights now, none bigger than his upcoming bout: a March 17 fight against Donovan George, live on HBO from Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Rodriguez, 20-0 with 14 knockouts, will face George (22-1-1, 19 KOs) on the undercard to Sergio Martinez vs. Matthew Macklin.
Shields recently spoke with BoxingScene.com about the Rodriguez-George bout.
BoxingScene.com: What do you know about Edwin’s opponent, Donovan George?
Shields: “I watched some of his fights before, and he’s a really strong kid and has a really good right hand, but that seems to be the only thing that he depends on. He takes a good shot, but we’re going to have to really be on our P’s and Q’s because the kid can punch. Not that Edwin cannot take a punch, but of course you don’t want to get hit with anything that you don’t have to get hit with.
“Edwin is going to be in great shape, and I’m looking for him to stop this kid. I think it’s time for Edwin to step up to the plate. This is the fight that he can present himself in a really good light. Edwin can look good against this kid. We’re looking forward to it. He’s been here now for a couple weeks and we’re working on the game plan.”
BoxingScene.com: Beyond the game plan for the fight itself, how do you prepare him for the pressure of being in the HBO spotlight and fighting in Madison Square Garden for the first time?
Shields: “Just like anything else. We’ve got a young fighter who has to show that he belongs. He’s so excited. This is the most I’ve seen him excited. He’s really excited, and he just wants to prove that he belongs, that his ranking in the top five is not a fluke. That last fight really helped us out, because the guy, Will Rosinsky, was no pushover. It was a really good, tough, hard fight, so Edwin knows that he can go a hard 10 rounds. I don’t think Donovan George is as good as Will Rosinsky. He may be strong, but I don’t think he’s as good. Will Rosinsky was really a good fighter.”
BoxingScene.com: And you don’t think, then, that being on HBO or in Madison Square Garden will have any effect on Edwin’s mentality?
Shields: “No, I don’t think so. I think the pressure of the last fight took everything away, as far as pressure. Even being on Showtime the last fight, he was basically at home, and you can’t ask for nothing bigger than that [Rodriguez-Rosinsky was at Foxwoods in Connecticut, which is about an hour from Rodriguez’s home in Worcester, Mass.]. New York has a lot of history. I think he’s excited now. He’s training hard, and he knows what he has to do.
“I think there’s going to be more pressure on Donovan George, because this is going to be really his first big fight in the spotlight in New York. He’s fought at home a lot, but nothing like this.”
BoxingScene.com: There’d been some talk of Rodriguez-George possibly being a title eliminator. Should Edwin win this fight, do you move him immediately to a title shot against one of the top super middleweights, or do you keep him away for a bit to let him keep developing?
Shields: “I want to keep him away from that for a little bit. This is not going to be an elimination bout because it’s only a 10-round fight. I just got confirmation that it’s only a 10-round fight. Even after that, Bute and all of these guys are looking for fights. But Edwin’s still a young guy. I just started training him. Edwin and I, we’ve had three fights, I think, together already, but he still has a lot to learn. I don’t see the rush.
“I think this is a great opportunity for him right here. After this fight, we have to pick and choose where we want to go. I don’t think Bute or Froch or one of them guys is the answer right after this.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to email@example.com