Elvis Rodriguez needed three rounds to warm up in his last fight.
Eventually, however, Rodriguez delivered the type of performance Premier Boxing Champions’ Al Haymon hoped he would produce when Rodriguez joined PBC in the aftermath of his first professional defeat. Rodriguez dropped Mexico’s Juan Pablo Romero once apiece in the fourth and fifth rounds and won by fifth-round knockout on the Canelo Alvarez-Caleb Plant undercard November 6 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The Dominican southpaw’s counter left hand in an exchange dumped his previously unbeaten opponent flat on his back late in the fifth round. It was just the type of emphatic, entertaining ending the 26-year-old Rodriguez sought five months after Kenneth Sims Jr. upset him by majority decision in an eight-rounder ESPN televised last May 22 from Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
“We showed the world that any fighter can have one bad night, and one bad night doesn’t define a fighter,” Rodriguez, who will box Juan Jose Velasco on Saturday night, told BoxingScene.com through a translator. “We took it as a positive, learned everything we needed to learn and came back better.”
Chicago’s Sims, a decorated amateur who had lost twice as a pro prior to facing Rodriguez, clearly out-boxed Rodriguez on his way to winning six of their eight rounds on two scorecards (78-74, 78-74, 76-76).
“That night I made a lot of mistakes,” Rodriguez said. “I was looking for the knockout, focused on the knockout. We went back to the gym and just worked.”
Showtime will televise the 10-round, 142-pound bout between Rodriguez (12-1-1, 11 KOs) and Argentina’s Velasco (23-2, 14 KOs) as the opener of a tripleheader from The Armory in Minneapolis (9 p.m. ET; 6 p.m. PT).
Velasco lost back-to-back bouts by technical knockout and knockout to former 140-pound champions Regis Prograis and Mario Barrios in July 2018 and May 2019, respectively. He has since won three straight fights, most recently a 10-round split decision over Brooklyn’s Zachary Ochoa (21-2, 7 KOs) in February 2021 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
“He’s a veteran fighter,” Rodriguez said of Velasco. “He’s been in there with top names. I think I’m gonna take it as another learning experience. I think it’s gonna be a great fight, but I’m gonna come to do what I always do. … If everything comes out well, as planned, I hope to fight as much as possible [in 2022] and just keep fighting bigger and better names and finish the year with a title shot.”
Following Rodriguez-Velasco, Showtime will air a 10-round lightweight fight in which the Dominican Republic’s Michel Rivera (22-0, 14 KOs) will square off against Joseph Adorno (14-0-2, 12 KOs), of Allentown, Pennsylvania. In the 12-round main event, Australian junior middleweight contender Tim Tszyu (20-0, 15 KOs) is set to square off against Cleveland native Terrell Gausha (22-2-1, 11 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.