Heavyweight boxing appears to be on a decline and in desperate need of a charismatic champion who can bring back flair into the division. The fierce unpredictability of heavyweight boxers of the past is what brought excitement and luster to the sport, making boxing what it is today. European boxers who now dominate the heavyweight division haven’t been able to bring boxing back to where it once was. Boxers such as the Klitschko’s are often viewed as boring with little to no knockout power. There is a growing need for American heavyweights with charm, fire and personality to bring back what was once the most popular boxing division in the world.
Considering this unfortunate trend, we’ve documented the career of David “Nino” Rodriguez, an undefeated Mexican American Heavyweight boxer with great boxing potential, style and personality. Rodriguez has amassed a record of 33 wins with 31 KO's and he believes he can bring back heavyweight boxing. Rodriguez is currently ranked # 1 by WBO Latino, #10 NABF, #12 WBA, and #15 NABO. If Rodriguez succeeds he will be the 1st heavyweight champion of Mexican decent and the 1st American heavyweight world champion in many years. To accomplish this Rodriguez felt that he had to make some difficult changes in training and management.
Rodriguez’s former manager Bob Spagnolia and trainer Louie Burke often contracted him in fights throughout Mexico; matches Rodriguez believed were not benefiting his career.
Feeling that his chances of success are much greater in American soil, Rodriguez has teamed up Nino Bravo Entertainment and Zeferino Entertainment. His new team consists of his father and boxing manager David Rodriguez Sr., promoter Zeferino Ramirez, trainer Herman Delgado and sparing partner Joe Sullivan. Under his new management boxer David Rodriguez is currently preparing for a boxing match against Ty "The Tiger" Cobb (11-2, 8KO's) on February 11th in El Paso, Texas.
Steven Arredondo (SA): Juarez, Mexico, now one of the world’s most dangerous cities was once a peaceful city where many El Paso boxers would go to spar with other talented fighters. Can you tell us a little bit about your days of training and sparring in Juarez, Mexico?
David “Nino” Rodriguez (DR): Yes, It is a very rough and tough place. You definitely develop a Mexican style. I remember going to Juarez, Mexico. We used to have a drill, we would tie ropes to each others leg to only give us a certain amount of room for inside fighting and that was a tactic they only used regularly. Now of course your chances are 50/50 that you’re going to get shot. Ha, Ha, there’s no more going over there! But growing up on a boarder city I learned two different styles, the American style and the Mexican Machismo type inside fighting style which is what made me such an aggressive fighter I believe.
SA: Juarez/El Paso border region has produced numerous fierce boxers such as Fernie Morales, Rene Hererra, Juan Lazcano, Antonio Escalante, and yourself.
Do you think there is something about this region that has breed some of the top fighters in the world?
DR: Yes, I believe it is such a rough place to come from, you know its really basically poverty stricken. You know ever since I was a kid I grew up fighting on the streets. I remember days when I had to run from the bus stop because I would have a pack of cholos (gang members) chasing me Ha Ha!, and then that very same day I would be in the boxing gym training and getting a bloody nose or, or a missing tooth or something like that as a kid. It’s a rough place but it’s my heart. El Paso is my heart. I love it here.
SA: You fight in the most difficult division in the world. Do you ever question or doubt your ability to compete at this level?
DR: Not at all. I feel that I am the best in this division. Because I am fast and I have a linebacker size. What I have that other fighters don’t is that I started at a very young age, I started at 5 years old. I have a killer instinct mentality. I am very vicious in the ring you know. It can also be a downfall because I kind of like to mix it up more than I should. But I feel like as I am getting older I am getting a little bit more intelligent in the ring give or take.
SA: In boxing the upper weight limit for each class is the lower limit of the next higher class? The heavyweight class has no weight limit in professional boxing. Do you feel there should be a “super-heavyweight division”, unlike other weight classes? It seems a little unfair that the heavyweight division has such a huge gap in weight. What is your opinion?
DR: I agree, its like to 205 to infinity. It’s kind of like a freak show now. The heavyweights now are like 7’3, 6 9, 6 10, I mean that is a huge advantage but they are not the most coordinated guys. But boxing is still a skill and it is a science. I think that anyone over 205, period, can punch if they hit the right way. So I think they should leave it the way it is. I have no problem fighting guys bigger than me. Some of my easiest fights have been from guy’s way bigger than I am. I think that is what makes it so interesting.
SA: Is there any heavyweight boxer out there, past or present that you feel have a similar fighting style to yours? If so, which heavyweight boxer do you compare yourself to?
DR: The only one I compare myself to is, Uh, I like to believe that I am as tenacious as Rocky Marciano. If all is going wrong in a fight I just apply the pressure and I know that there are not many heavyweights out there that can take my punches. So if I just keep throwing, keep throwing and keep coming at them, keep coming at them, I am coming at them. I think I have a very precise jab. My jab has a lot of precision on it. I need to use it more. I intend to mix it up. I think my style goes more towards Marciano Holyfield.
SA: Please tell us a little bit about “La Fieya”?
DR: Yes, La Fieya is the nickname I got. It’s called “The Ugly” because it’s my body shot. You know I developed that as a kid when I was about 6 years old. We used to do a lot of body sparring from my first coach Tom McKay. Just to the body, just to the body because we didn’t want to do a lot of headshots. And I just started learning where to place my shots. The kidney shots, the liver shots, all that came into play and even at this time in the professional division I just know that sweet spot. I hit it every time. I hit it every time. A lot of heavyweights are not use to that when they see that coming. And it’s a very Mexican developed punch. It’s a hard punch to learn but you get right inside that pocket and you hit them right there in that sweet spot and its over. So we nicknamed it “La Feija” because I had about 10 maybe 15 knockouts where it ended to the body. (La Feiya is Spanish for The Ugly)
SA: What goes on in your mind before a fight?
DR: I try to just meditate and be very calm. You know A lot of nerves, you know this could happen that could happen. You know just like everybody else. A lot of doubts, a lot of confidence. Every emotion that you can imagine is running through your mind. You know the important thing is that I stay grounded. I do a lot of praying. I know that, my body knows that I am getting ready to go into battle to war and I know that it is a very dangerous situation, but I am confident. That is why I train so hard. And knowing that I prepared is all. If I prepare hard, run hard, spar hard and hit the bag hard I have nothing to worry about. It’s really up to God. I just leave it in the hands of God. And I am a firm believer in the lord. And he takes care of the rest.
SA: Do you have any advice to give to other fighters out there who are following their dreams?
DR: The main advice I can give is to not give up no matter how hard it is. Because a fighter is a fighter for a reason. A fighter fights through thick and think through adversities and your going to get a lot of adversities. A lot of people are going to tell you that you cant do it. That is all your going to hear pretty much! You got a lot of critics. To this day I probably have more critics than fans, but you have to block all that out and know where you are going and not let nobody or anything stop you.
SA: Your father David Rodriguez Sr., Zeferino Entertainment and you are promoting your upcoming fight this February 11, 2011. Have you felt any extra-added pressure because of this?
DR: Only if I let it you know. It’s all in the mind. If anything I look at it as a freedom. I kind of broken free. A lot of bondage that I was under with my old management team. I get to call my own shots now and that is a blessing. The fact that my father is involved, someone that loves me and cares about me, that is a big plus for me. And I’m not doing that much work. Zeferino is doing a lot, the main promoter is doing most of the work. He knows that I am a fighter and I have to fight so he is taking care of most of it. The odds and ends, the dirty work and this and that. I am just showing up to media and press conferences and things of that nature. Having open workouts so nothing has really changed other than except for the fact that I have my name attached to it.
SA: Other than boxing what do you enjoy doing?
DR: I enjoy many things; the main thing is having good friends around me. Good people around me. I enjoy reading. While I am in training camp watching documentaries and educational materials. I try to get informative material. I don’t like to plague my mind with nonsense, reality shows or anything like that. I try to stay grounded. I try to stay spiritual. And I try to enjoy life to the fullest because you only got one life to live. You know I am just trying to give my best my very best. Before my time is up, when ever that is. It could be tomorrow, it could be in 50 years, I don’t know. Just try to make the best of it. But for some reason I feel boxing picked me I didn’t pick boxing. I started at a young age and it just led me to this point.
SA: How is training camp going? Tell us a little bit about your new trainer and is there anything different now?
DR: I am enjoying camp a lot more. You know that is definitely different on the mind. I am enjoying it more and I am having fun again. The last time I had fun was when I was a kid. And now I am having fun again. You know Herman, we joke around we have a good time. But when we are working its serious work. I haven’t felt that in a long time. And It’s kind of breathed new life into me. There really is not much difference. I will tell you one thing, the mitt work is very intense. He is a very hands on trainer, Herman Delgado. And he has really been on me and my conditioning is going up and I think it is going to show on this next fight.
SA: What can we expect to see from you come February 11th?
DR: Same old Rodriguez, you know I got knockout power on both hands I am going to be very aggressive. If I hurt this guy, I definitely am going to try to put him out and finish him. But I am not going to rush anything. I’m still going to be working the jab. But I am going to let my hands go. This guy’s style is an awkward style he comes strait forward, he takes a lot of punches and that’s not a good thing when you’re fighting me. It’s just not a good thing.
SA: Is there anything you would like to leave off with?
DR: I enjoy training in my hometown. I really do, I enjoy coming back to my roots and remembering where I came from because you got to remember where you came from to know where you are going and El Paso is my home and it’s my heart. And it’s who I am. It’s made me who I am. And I just love it here.
Championship Boxing - February 11, 2011
Don Haskins Center
151 Glory Rd, El Paso, TX
David "Nino" Rodriguez vs. "BIG" TY Cobb
Hector "Macho" Camacho Jr. vs. Juan Astorga
Jennifer Han vs. Geni Taylor
Joe Sullivan vs. Oscar Valenzuela
Charlie Vila vs. David Castillo
Gates open at 6pm.
Tickets available at: UTEP box office (915) 747-5234
Online at Ticketmaster.com
Or contact Z. Entertainment- Guy Taylor 626-674-2905