NEW YORK – Now Julian Rodriguez can concentrate on 2020, the year the junior welterweight prospect promises will be by far the most impactful 12 months of his previously stalled career.
Rodriguez won an eight-round unanimous decision against Manuel Mendez and got in some much-needed rounds Saturday night on the Terence Crawford-Egidjius Kavaliauskas undercard at Madison Square Garden. The 25-year-old Rodriguez now has won three fights since July 13, when he ended nearly a two-year layoff largely caused by lingering soreness in his surgically repaired left shoulder.
Rodriguez dropped Mendez in the first round and won by huge margins on all three scorecards.
Two judges – Kevin Morgan (80-71) and John Basile (80-71) – scored all eight rounds for Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs), of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. Another judge, Don Ackerman, scored seven of the eight rounds for Rodriguez (79-72).
The 29-year-old Mendez (16-7-3, 11 KOs), of Colton, California, lost a fifth straight fight and slipped to 1-6-1 in his past eight bouts.
Rodriguez remained in control during the final three rounds, although his punch output slowed in those as he appeared to tire. If nothing else, Mendez exhibited plenty of tougheness, as he took Rodriguez’s hardest shots without incident after hitting the deck in the opening round.
Mendez had some success in the fifth round, when he backed up Rodriguez and landed a few power shots of his own. Rodriguez also nailed Mendez with left hooks and right hands that Mendez managed to continue taking.
Rodriguez buzzed Mendez with a left hook and then a right hand in the first half of the fourth round.
Two rounds after flooring Mendez, Rodriguez unloaded various power punches on him in the final minute of the third round. A right hand by Rodriguez staggered Mendez and caused him to hold.
A left hook by Rodriguez floored Mendez with just over a minute remaining in the first round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.