by David P. Greisman
You wouldn’t expect Donovan George to promise anything less than the promise made in that headline.
It’s not his style to do anything but go to war, and few expect his March 17 fight against Edwin Rodriguez to be anything but an entertaining battle. There’s a reason George’s nickname is “Da Bomb.” There’s a reason Rodriguez’s nickname is “La Bomba.” And there’s a reason their bout, on the undercard to Sergio Martinez vs. Matthew Macklin, is being marketed as “Bombs Away.”
The 27-year-old Chicago resident is 22-1-1, 19 knockouts. Rodriguez, a 26-year-old out of Worcester, Mass., is 20-0 with 14 knockouts.
George recently spoke with BoxingScene.com about the fight.
BoxingScene.com: How excited are you about fighting on HBO and in Madison Square Garden in what’s your first time for each?
George: “It’s a dream come true for me to be able to fight on HBO. Growing up, watching HBO all the time with my dad, I thought, ‘One day, man, hopefully I can be on there.’ The phone rang, and we got a great opportunity. I’m fighting a tough kid, and I know it’s going to be a great fight.
“And to top it off, it’s at the Garden, too. It’s just a dream come true. The Mecca of boxing. I was supposed to fight there five or six years ago, and I waited, and my opponent failed his EKG [medical test]. It was also on St. Patrick’s Day, the John Duddy undercard. It was a big deal for me. I was so devastated that I didn’t get to fight. Now I get to fight there on St Patrick’s Day and on HBO. It’s a dream come true.”
BoxingScene.com: What extra pressure, if any, comes with knowing that your fight is on HBO and at the Garden?
George: “This is a must-win, a must impress fight for me. I can’t just go out there and try to get a solid win. I got to impress. I got to showcase all my skills and talents and be exciting. If anybody’s ever seen me fight, they know that I’m not the boxer. I’m not going to be slick. I got to go out there and make it my fight. It’s going to be exciting.”
BoxingScene.com: You and Rodriguez fought on the same card back in April 2010. I don’t know how closely you’ve been keeping of him, but what do you see when you size him up?
George: “We were on that same card in Chicago. We both had good wins on Showtime. I’ve been following his career like I do every super middleweight. He’s been brought along good. He’s beaten some really good fighters. His last fight, he beat an undefeated guy. He’s fought some big names. He’s got some rounds. From what I hear about him, he’s a good guy and a great fighter.
“But come fight night, it’s him vs. me, and I don’t care about any of the press or any of the publicity that he’s had in the past of how he’s the second coming. I just want to go out there, I’m going to fight my best and I’m going to win.”
BoxingScene.com: How do you think you’ve improved since that night?
George: “I fought [Osumanu] Adama that night, and that was one of my toughest fights and one of my best fights. Adama is moving on, he’s fighting for a world title now in Australia [against Daniel Geale]. I beat a really tough guy that night. After that fight, I had a setback, I lost, and then I showed the world what I was made of after my loss. I came back and fought a guy who was 16-0 with 15 knockouts, Cornelius White, and I destroyed him in a [round]. Not many fighters bounce back like I did.
“First off, I learned never to take anybody lightly, always be in top shape. I feel my conditioning is better now than ever. I always thought that I was in the best shape possible, but then I realized how much more I could push myself and how much more I could get out of myself. That’s a huge thing. Getting tired cannot be an option.
“My father is working a lot on my defense and my counter-punching, which obviously needed improvement. As long as I’m improving every fight, and I’m getting better every day in the gym, I feel like I got a great chance to beat Rodriguez.”
BoxingScene.com: A lot of people are expecting this to be a war. You guys have similar nicknames — “Da Bomb” and “La Bomba,” and they’re calling your fight “Bombs Away” — and we’re all familiar with your styles. Is a war also what you’re expecting?
George: “Yeah, absolutely. I could go on the record and say I’m going to box smart and pick my shots, but I know I’m not. I’m going to go out there and I’m going to fight my ass off. I’m going to be in the best shape possible. If it’s a boxing contest, he got a slight advantage. He’s got a little more of an amateur pedigree than me, and if you watch his fights he’s a little slicker than I am. But if it comes down to a war, I feel like I have the advantage. That’s what I plan on making it.”
BoxingScene.com: What’s your prediction on what’ll happen in the fight?
George: “I’m going to win. That’s all. I’m not going to disrespect Rodriguez and say I’m going to blow him out or anything, because he’s a good fighter and he’s shown that he can fight at a high level. Also, I’ve read a lot of his interviews and he seems like he has a lot of class, and I’m not going to sit here and take shots at anybody.
“This is a business. I’m fighting for me and my family, and I’m sure he’s doing the same, so the best man’s going to win. I believe it’s me, and I’m going to do everything in my power possible to win this fight. I’m going to lay everything on the line. I’m willing to do whatever I have to, to win this fight. This is my chance.
“I know I’ll never be a great fighter or be in the Hall of Fame. I’m a realist. But maybe on the 17th I can show a little bit of greatness that night. I’m never going to be a great fighter, but I think I have it in me to have a great performance.”
BoxingScene.com: What does a win over Rodriguez on HBO at Madison Square Garden on March 17 do for your career?
George: “I think it’s going to have to catapult me to at least another big fight on HBO or a title shot. I really don’t know which one I’d rather have. Either/or sounds great to me. Obviously at the end of the day we’re all doing this because we want to accomplish something in our lives, and I want to be a champion, and that’s what I want to be known for.
“But also I have to take care of my family. Another big fight on HBO would definitely mean some financial security for me and my family. That’d be great. I didn’t go to college. I’m not going to be a doctor. I need to take care of things in some other ways — I just have a girl and two dogs. She won’t have kids with me until I quit boxing.”
BoxingScene.com: What else do you want tell people?
George: “I know I have a lot of people from Chicago who are coming out there. I should have a few hundred people from Chicago. They’re all going to be sitting on one section. It feels great. I got so much support in my community right now. And especially the Irish people out there in New York, being half Irish, it’s a big thing on St. Patrick’s Day. I promise to train the best I can and make myself the best fighter possible and put on a great show that night.”
BoxingScene.com: The fight being St. Patrick’s Day — and the fact that you probably can’t drink until after the fight — what’s the first beer you get yourself after you leave the ring March 17?
George: “That’s a great question. You would expect me to say Guinness, but I can’t stand Guinness at all. There’s this beer on the market, called Delirium. It’s like 10 percent alcohol, and it is awesome. I will definitely have a few of those after my fight. It’s a Belgian Ale. It’s awesome. You’ve got to try it.”
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 protected]