Emmanuel Rodriguez (18-0, 12 KOs) is "doing it for Puerto Rico" when he makes the first defence of his IBF World Bantamweight title against unbeaten Australian Jason Moloney (17-0, 14 KOs) in the Ali Trophy Quarter-Final on Saturday at CFE Arena, Orlando, Florida.
“I feel very good, I can’t wait for Saturday night,” said Rodriguez. “We are going up against an undefeated opponent and he has my respect. I’ve seen videos of Jason and he is fast, intelligent and knows how to use the ring,” said the highly-skilled Puerto Rican.
“But I‘ve fought better opposition than him and there will be no doubt that I will walk away with the victory on Saturday.”
Despite fighting away from his native Puerto Rico, Rodriguez can expect massive support from his countrymen. Over 135,000 Puerto Ricans relocated to the USA after last year’s devastating Hurricane Maria and thousands settled in Orlando.
“It’s great to be fighting in Orlando, Florida because there will be a ‘Little Puerto Rico’ supporting me at the arena,” said Rodriguez. “I want no surprises on Saturday, and the victory will be for my people of Puerto Rico.”
Rodriguez won the IBF title in May when he dropped former world champion, Paul Butler, twice and dominated him over twelve rounds for a superior unanimous decision win. A star was born, experts said. And the chance of conquering the whole world is now on ‘Manny’s’ radar.
“I always wanted to face the best and the best are in this tournament,” said Rodriguez. “Winning it would make more fans know me and this division which is great. I have prepared myself to go all the way and bring back the Muhammad Ali Trophy to Puerto Rico.”
The winner of Rodriguez vs Moloney will face Japanese ‘Monster’, WBA Champion Naoya Inoue in the semi-final, a sensational IBF and WBA unification bout is on the horizon.
The second Ali Trophy quarter-final bout of the huge night of boxing on Saturday the CFE Arena in Orlando is a cruiserweight clash between Cuba’s Yunier Dorticos and Poland’s Mateusz Masternak.
The winner of Dorticos vs Masternak faces USA’s Andrew Tabiti who beat Russia’s Ruslan Fayfer unanimously on points in their quarter-final in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
Tickets for the WBSS Quarter-Finals – Rodriguez vs Moloney & Dorticos vs Masternak – starting from $30 (plus fees) are on sale at TicketMaster.com.