Julian Rodriguez wasn’t necessarily pleased with how he fought Friday night, but he desperately needed some rounds after a 21-month layoff.

Rodriguez decisively defeated Kashon Hutchinson in his first fight since he took his lone loss, a technical-knockout defeat to former two-division champion Jose Pedraza in June 2021.The 28-year-old Rodriguez shed some rust, but he felt the effects of his lengthy layoff on his way to out-pointing Hutchinson unanimously in their non-televised eight-round welterweight bout at Wind Creek Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Rodriguez (22-1, 14 KOs), of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, ended Hutchinson’s seven-fight winning streak by beating the Reading, Pennsylvania native by scores of 80-72, 78-74 and 78-74. The 29-year-old Hutchinson, a southpaw, slipped to 10-6 (2 KOs).

“I felt like sh*t, to be honest with you,” Rodriguez told BoxingScene.com. “My conditioning was great, but there was a lot of hesitation going on. I saw all the openings. My body just wasn’t reacting the way I wanted to, but I’m really grateful that I got eight rounds in, instead of getting a quick knockout, which wouldn’t do me any good.”

Rodriguez wants to be as active as possible this year before he fights another ranked opponent in the junior welterweight division toward the end of 2023.

“I’m getting right back in the gym,” Rodriguez said. “No matter how many rounds of sparring I do with world champions, it don’t f------- matter. I need to be active, even if it’s on smaller shows like this.”

After parting ways with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. following his televised loss to Puerto Rico’s Pedraza (29-5-1, 14 KOs), Rodriguez also hopes to sign with another promoter in the coming months.

“I have a few meetings coming up,” Rodriguez said. “Getting back in the gym is the most important thing, living the lifestyle 24/7, no matter what is on the table. But we do have a few meetings to go to, and I’m very excited about that. I’m glad I got this fight in and it’s just on to what’s next, moving on to bigger and better things. I see myself having one or two more tune-up fights, and then getting right back to top-10 type opponents.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.