During the 201st edition of “On The Ropes” I had a chance to speak with super middleweight contender Edwin Rodriguez to discuss his upcoming November 16th bout against undefeated super middleweight champion, Andre Ward. Rodriguez, who himself carries an undefeated record 24-0 (16KOs) is hoping to upset the odds and hand boxing’s #2 pound for pound fighter his defeat. “La Bomba” spoke in detail on the match, giving his views on Ward as a fighter, his improvement to get to this fight and why he ultimately believes he will come away with the victory. Rodriguez also discussed his reasons for taking 24/7 VADA testing for the fight and gave his thoughts on how he thinks the fight will play out. Here is what Edwin Rodriguez had to say.
Jenna J: Edwin you have a fight set with the Super middleweight champion of the world, Andre Ward. The fight will take place on November 16th, how do you feel about the opportunity in front of you?
Edwin Rodriguez: If feel great, I feel like I have been improving, I’m ready to take on the best fighter in the world at my weight class. I think Andre Ward is a very good fighter, and I’m up for the challenge.
Jenna: This fight was in talks for a little while and it was starting to look like it was not going to happen. What was the hang up in the negotiations for the fight?
Rodriguez: Al Haymon and my manger and promoter Lou Dibella did not feel that it was not the right amount for this type of fight and felt there was more money on the table. Before they were offering something that my manager was not comfortable with, but at the end of day the fight got made and we got what we think the fight is worth and it will happenNovember 16th.
Jenna: Do you think Andre Ward wanted this fight with you or do you think he wanted an easier opponent for his return after his lay off?
Rodriguez: I think HBO pushed for this fight, I think Andre Wanted an easier fight, I think he is one of those persons that feels entitled. I don’t think HBO wanted to give him a TV date against a soft touch, and still pay him as much as he wanted to get paid, so I think that was the problem they were having. I know they kept pushing for me because I wanted the fight, but I wanted to get what the fight was worth, and we got it, and now we are working hard to get the win.
Jenna: Edwin you are going after the Ring Champion of the weight class, not just a belt holder. Was this the kind of challenge you wanted all along?
Rodriguez: Definitely. The only way to be the best if to beat this guy. Andre is a very good fighter, he has proved that by defeating guys like Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch, who are also great fighters. So for me this was a no brainer, this is the fight to become the best.
Jenna: Andre Ward is coming off the longest lay off of his career, and he has also had the injuries. Do you think the conditions are at their best for you to pull off the upset?
Rodriguez: It looks like there are, but at the end of the day I am focused and I’m ready to compete and beat the best Andre Ward. I’m not just looking to get lucky, or him get old over night, I know I’m good enough to compete with Andre Ward’s best, and if he’s not he can go.
Jenna: The fight is taking place in Andre’s home state of California, and even though the fight is not in Oakland, do you have any fears that if the fight is close that you won’t get the decision if it goes to the scorecards?
Rodriguez: I have no worries, I’m just focusing on doing my job, going in there and beating Andre Ward to the punch, and if I get the knocked out, great, but it’s not something I’m just going out to try to land one shot because I feel I’m good enough to beat Andre Ward in a 12 round fight, without knocking him out.
I’m promoted by Lou Dibella and Al Haymon, who you have never seen a Al Haymon fighter getting robbed or anything like that, they always get their fair share, so having people like that backing you is a great feeling. I just know I have to go in there and do my job, and that makes things a lot easier.
Jenna: Edwin you said that you believe that you can beat the best version of Andre Ward, and throughout your career you have been constantly improving, taking steady steps to the top, you are 28 years old now, what do you think of your development with Ronnie Shields getting to this point?
Rodriguez: I think I have improved a lot under the guidance of Ronnie Shields, I think a year ago I was a fighter that had no defense, I was just a mentally offensive fighter. I think under the guidance of Ronnie I have been able to get my defense down and put my defense and my offence together and become a complete fight and become a more well rounded fighter, not just one denominational and that is going to give Andre a lot of trouble.
Jenna: Edwin, not giving too much in terms of your game plan, when you look at Andre Ward, what weaknesses do you see that you think you can exploit?
Rodriguez: Andre Ward is a very smart fighter, he is one of those guys that is able to adapt, I just have to continue to adapt with him, not stay stuck with one game plan, continue to move and as the fight goes on, and if he adapts to something I am doing right, move on to the next thing, he is a very smart fighter, he able to outsmart people in the ring, and I have to stay on my toes, kind of like a chess game.
Jenna: Alright now, you mentioned it’s gonna be kind of a chess game for yourself. One of the fighters who had a little bit of success against Andre Ward was Sakio Bika, but he made it a rough, dirty, hard fight for him, he was constantly in his face. Are you gonna take anything out of what Sakio Bika did, or are you just gonna go about things your own way and beat him your own way with your own ability?
Rodriguez: I think that Sakio Bika was a good guy to have to give Andre Ward more trouble and guess who trained Sakio for that fight? Ronnie Shields, so I have that in my corner. Ronnie has faced Andre Ward before with Sakio and I feel I’m a better boxer and more well rounded. I’m able to do more things than Sakio Bika, so I’m gonna look for things that Sakio Bika did right and work on that but at the same time I’m gonna do it on my own style.
Jenna: Alright, I wanna get your views on the sport and one thing that I mentioned earlier was about judging and recently a Ronnie Shields trained fighter got the wrong end of a decision, that would be Brian Vera. I’m just curious what you thought of that fight and also on the flip side, what do you think of Chavez Jr. and his seemingly unprofessional behavior preparing for fights?
Rodriguez: Well you know, I think Chavez Jr. is the spoiled child of boxing. He just decided to come in heavy, not because he couldn’t make weight, just because he didn’t try. This is a guy who would fight at 168 lbs and then on top of that, the people are enabling him because he’s a ticket seller, his dad has the name and he’s able to exploit that.
I think it was clear, everybody saw that Brian Vera won the fight, Brian was throwing more punches, landing more punches. I thought Brian won the fight easy 7-3. But like you said, things happen in this sport, you just gotta have the right people backing you.
Jenna: If you happen to beat Andre Ward, eventually that fight might come your way, a fight with Chavez Jr, because he plans to stay at 168 lbs. What would you do in a fight against him?
Rodriguez: Honestly I think that Brian Vera is gonna get a rematch against Chavez and I just wish that the judges see it the way it happens this time. Brian is focused on fighting Chavez again, I’m gonna let him handle Chavez while I handle Andre Ward.
Jenna: The one question I always like to ask fighters that are about to fight for a title and have a chance to win it is, what they ultimately think that feeling will be like, to reach the ultimate goal of becoming a champion of weight class?
Rodriguez: I have imagined this moment so many times and not just winning the world title but beating the guy that is the world champ, he’s the man. There are 3 other world titles but this is the guy that everybody considers the best 168 lb’er, so I think that will be a great accomplishment for me and I have felt it, I have dreamed it, I have been there. I just gotta make it happen now. That’s it, I just have to go in there and just make it happen.
I also have signed up for VADA testing for when I beat Andre Ward everyone knows that a clean athlete did it. I got sponsored by SMAC, Victor Conte, I signed up for VADA testing 365, 24/7 all year long. Whenever I’m out they come look for me and test me, so I can just take a step forward and continue to have clean athletes in boxing and be and example.
Jenna: Alright you mentioned being an example, a lot of fighters they don’t wanna do that. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is one guy that’s willing to do it, obviously he’s an Al Haymon fighter. Why don’t you think more fighters are willing to do what you’re doing and stepping up to the plate to have everyone know that they are a clean fighter?
Rodriguez: I don’t know, honestly I have no clue why they wouldn’t wanna do it. Andre Ward got offered a sponsorship for this fight to do the testing and I brought it up at the press conference before my sponsor had contacted him and his team. They never got back and he just went on to act like I blind sighted him which was not true.
Victor Conte has been getting in contact with him and his trainer Virgil about it. They just kept pushing it back so at the press conference I just mentioned it and his answer was, “Is that a trick question?” No it wasn’t a trick question but it sure was a trick answer cause I never got an answer, never said if he was or if he wasn’t.
The fight will still go on regardless, I think Andre Ward is a clean fighter but just like you mentioned, a lot of fighters don’t wanna take that step forward and actually do it and make it happen. Especially when you have a sponsor that was willing to pay for it.
I don’t understand it, maybe it’s just because it wasn’t their idea or whatever it is. I don’t get it. I know that I saw a great opportunity to show my fans that I’m clean and I took it, I don’t know why other fighters aren’t doing the same.
Jenna: Alright well the main goal for yourself is obviously to beat Andre Ward and now I wanna get your official prediction for that fight, on November 16th you meet him in the ring, what do you expect to happen?
Rodriguez: Honestly I’m ready to beat Andre Ward in a 12 round fight. He’s a very smart fighter, I’m just gonna continue to adapt as soon as he adapts to something that I’m doing right I’m gonna continue moving on to the next thing and I’m gonna beat him to the punch. If I’m able to hurt him, I’m coming after him and I will stop him, but if that doesn’t happen, I’m ready to beat Andre ward in a 12 round fight, punch by punch.
Jenna: Alright, if you do beat him, is there a rematch clause?
Rodriguez: Not that I know of, but I’m not opposed to it. After I beat him once, I will beat him twice.
Jenna: Finally Edwin, to all the fans that are listening out there, the fans that follow you via Facebook and Twitter. Any message you want to pass along to them?
Rodriguez: Follow me @LaBombaBoxing thank you for the support, I appreciate it. November 16th I will be a world champion, thank you.