WORCESTER, Mass. - Undefeated super middleweight contender Edwin "La Bomba" Rodriguez is ready, willing and able to replace No. 1 contender Anthony Dirrell, who was recently injured in a motorcycle accident, and fight No. 2 rated Nikola Sjekloca for the vacant World Boxing Council ("WBC") 168-pound title.
Sjekloca and Dirrell, who is out of action for a reported six months, were ordered to fight for the WBC title, after Andre Ward was declared "Champion in Recess."
"This is why I signed with Lou DiBella," Rodriguez said from Andy Lee's training camp where he is sparring with the Irish middleweight contender. "It's my time and I'm ready to replace Dirrell against Sjekloca. If anybody can get this opportunity for me it's Lou."
The 27-year-old Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KOs), a native of the Dominican Republic who lives in Worcester (MA), has been showcased on HBO, three times on ShoBox, and featured twice on ESPN. In his last five fights, he has beaten opponents with a combined record of 83-7-2, including three world-rated fighters (Don George, Aaron Pryor, Jr. and James McGirt), as well as unbeaten National amateur champion Will Rosinsky).
"We're ready for the best but it looks like Ward's moving up in weight and (Lucian) Bute's tied-up with (Carl) Froch," Rodriguez' manager Larry Army noted. "Right now, though, Edwin has earned a world title shot and we're confident he's ready to fight and beat Sjekloca."
Sjekloca (24-0, 7 KOs), a 33-year-old Serbian who lives in Montenegro, is the reigning WBC International super middleweight champion. However, he has fought only once outside of Montenegro and Serbia, in 2010 against 8-24 Artem Vychkin in a win by six-round decision. The lone opponent of note Sjekloca has fought is four-time world title challenger and former European champion, Khoren Gevor, who lost a close 12-round decision to Sjekloca last year.
Rodriguez, who cracked The Ring Magazine world ratings last week at No. 10, is ranked No. 3 International Boxing Federation ("IBF"), No. 5 by the WBC, #8 World Boxing Association ("WBA") and #13 World Boxing Organization ("WBO").
Argentinean welterweight contender Hector "El Tigre" Saldivia (41-2, 32 KO) has signed a managerial agreement with middleweight champion Sergio Martinez's Maravilla Box and re-signed another long-term promotional agreement with promoter Sampson Lewkowicz of Sampson Boxing.
The exciting 28-year-old Saldivia, from Comodoro Rivadavia, Chubut, Argentina, is a former WBA Fedelatin Welterweight Champion, currently rated #4 in the IBF and #15 in the WBC.
Saldivia is currently riding an eight-fight winning streak. As part of the Maravilla Box stable, Saldivia will now be trained by the mastermind behind so many of his fighters' success, super trainer Pablo Sarmiento.
"Now that he is with the best manager and trainer in boxing, it will be Hector's time to become champion," said the proud Lewkowicz. "We will be petitioning the IBF to fight an eliminator for the right to face the winner of the Mike Jones and Randall Bailey fight for the vacant title in June."
HBO Sports, known for its innovative, award-winning productions, sets the stage for the June pay-per-view showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley when the documentary special 24/7: ROAD TO PACQUIAO/BRADLEY debuts SATURDAY, MAY 19 (10:15-10:45 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
Other HBO playdates: May 19 (2:00 a.m.), 20 (10:30 a.m.), 21 (7:30 p.m., 1:35 a.m.), 22 (9:30 p.m.), 23 (10:30 a.m.), 24 (7:00 p.m., 2:35 a.m.), 25 (12:30 a.m.) and 26 (10:15 a.m.), and June 8 (6:30 p.m.) and 9 (9:30 a.m.)
HBO2 playdates: May 20 (11:50 p.m.) and 23 (10:30 p.m.), and June 8 (12:05 a.m.), 9 (5:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. PT) and 10 (9:20 a.m.)
HBO On Demand® availability begins: May 23
The special will also be available on HBO GO®.
24/7: ROAD TO PACQUIAO/BRADLEY introduces fans to the career and back story of undefeated Palm Springs, Cal. native Timothy Bradley Jr. (28-0, 12 KOs), who is challenging welterweight champ Manny Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs) of the Philippines in Las Vegas June 9. The documentary also offers a glimpse of international boxing icon Pacquiao outside the ring prior to the start of training camp, revealing a side of his life that is rarely captured by TV cameras.
A week after the debut of 24/7: ROAD TO PACQUIAO/BRADLEY, the latest installment of HBO Sports’ Emmy®-winning “24/7” reality franchise kicks off when “24/7 Pacquiao/Bradley” debuts Saturday, May 26 (9:30-10:00 p.m. ET/PT).
“Pacquiao vs. Bradley” takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, June 9 at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT, and will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View®.
The executive producer of 24/7: ROAD TO PACQUIAO/BRADLEY is Rick Bernstein; senior producer, Dave Harmon; coordinating producer, Bentley Weiner; producers, George Jakovic and Harley Glantz; writer, Aaron Cohen. Liev Schreiber narrates.