By Ryan Maquiñana
Earlier this week, the IBF ordered second-ranked super middleweight Adonis “Superman” Stevenson of Canada to fight No. 3 Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez in a title eliminator on Aug. 11.
However, BoxingScene.com has been advised that Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KOs), of Worcester, Mass., will be unable to meet fellow 168-pounder Stevenson (18-1, 15 KOs) because he is already slated for a televised bout that will take place Aug. 3 at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City.
“I want to make it very clear,” said Rodriguez’ manager, Larry Army. “We are not afraid to fight Adonis Stevenson. I think Edwin would beat Adonis, even in Canada. Edwin would love the opportunity, but it’s just a matter of the scheduling and him not being available due to prior commitments…I’ve been reassured that we’re not going to lose our spot.”
Rodriguez will instead fight on a “Broadway Boxing” card headlined by fellow super middleweight contender Thomas “Tommy Gun” Oosthuizen (19-0-1, 13 KOs) of South Africa. With both men sharing the same promoter in Lou DiBella, a fight down the road between them is a definite possibility.
“It’s not that we don’t want this Stevenson fight,” Army said. “We do want this fight. It’s a situation where we’re kind of stuck in the middle, and my hands are tied right now.
“DiBella has Thomas Oosthuizen on this card and he’s already sold the ‘Broadway Boxing’ television rights to South Africa. They also want to build Edwin on that card, so we’re committed. If the South African television rights weren’t attached to the show, we’d probably take the [Stevenson] fight.”
The current IBF champ, Carl Froch of England, is currently in negotiations for a rematch with Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler. The man Froch dethroned last Saturday, Lucian Bute of Canada, might choose to exercise a rematch clause of his own following that bout should the Englishman emerge victorious.
Such a potential arrangement would leave a mandatory challenger twisting in the wind for quite a while, which is another reason why Team Rodriguez isn’t so keen on the timing of a matchup with Stevenson just yet.
“Froch is going to fight Kessler now in September or October and in reality, he still has that rematch with Bute,” Army said. “If we fought in August for a mandatory spot, when would we actually get the title shot anyway? When’s the earliest that would happen, eight or nine months down the road? In any other circumstance, I would tell [promoter] Lou [DiBella] to make it happen, but why would I do that in this instance when the fight we would want for winning this one wouldn’t take place for almost a year?”
Since defeating Don George on HBO in March, Rodriguez has continued to hone his craft under the tutelage of Houston-based trainer Ronnie Shields. In recent weeks, however, “La Bomba” can be found in Detroit’s Kronk Gym (Stevenson’s training grounds, ironically enough) helping prepare Andy Lee for his June 16 middleweight challenge of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s WBC middleweight belt.
“Ronnie Shields has done an outstanding job with Edwin. Look at his fight with George,” Army said. “It’s taken three fights for Edwin to make that transition from puncher to boxer, and he’s kind of lost a little of that power in that transition. Now that’s the next step, and we scheduled this August 3rd date so he can get back that leverage and really turn his punches over. Once that piece of the puzzle comes back to Edwin, I don’t care who he fights. Put anybody in front of us.”
Ryan Maquiñana writes a weekly boxing column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.