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Can Rodriguez surprise Lara on June 12?

(Delvin Rodriguez)
(Delvin Rodriguez)

By John J. Raspanti

"You can’t box a boxer. You’ve got to fight him." - Delvin Rodriguez.

Veteran battler Delvin Rodriguez is hoping WBA super middleweight champion Erislandy Lara has been underestimating him leading up to their June 12 fight at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois.

“They’re expecting a really easy fight,” Rodriguez told this writer on the phone a few weeks ago. “For me that’s an advantage. I want the element of surprise.”

The 35-year-old Rodriguez hasn’t been seen in the ring since he fought a disappointing draw with Joachin Alcine last May. He’s split his last eight fights dating back to 2010.

Rodriguez (28-7-4, 16 KOs) used the time to contemplate his future and rest his body.

“I feel real good,” said Rodriguez. “I never really was out of the gym. I go to the gym all the time, but to be honest I feel like my body is stronger than ever. Since I’ve returned, I feel more confident in the ring. I pick up things quicker. I can see boxing from a different angle.”

Lara, 32, defeated Ishe Smith six months ago. This came after the biggest fight of his career in 2014 when Lara (20-2-2, 12 KOs) played a game of cat and mouse with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, eventually losing a hotly contested split decision.

Rodriguez feels he learned a lot from a viewing of the Lara vs. Alvarez match.

“I watched the Canelo - Lara fight,” Rodriguez said. “It was a close fight. Canelo has very slow feet. So, he couldn’t really get to Lara. But I think this fight is going to be a totally different fight for me.

"We know we cannot box this guy. We know we have to make this fight very rough. That’s what we’ve been working on.”

Lara has lost two fights in his career. Both were controversial. What does Rodriguez feel he has to do to become the third fighter to defeat the defending champion?

“You have to be able to break him down,” said Rodriguez. “To be honest, I just don’t want to beat him—I want to break him down.

“I know I’m going to surprise the crap out of him," he said. "When I hit him I don’t want to let him breathe. I want the element of surprise. I want him to think this is not what I trained for. I want to break him down mentally.”

So staying close and pounding the body and head is the key?

“Definitely, "said Rodriguez. ”This guy is a very clever boxer. “He has a very strong technique. We can’t compete with his boxing stock.

“You can’t box a boxer. You got to fight him. I want to make everything difficult for him.”

Lara, a southpaw, often frustrates his opponents with slick movement and fast hands. He also carries some pop in his left cross.

“I fought Austin Trout who’s also a southpaw," said Rodriguez. "He’s similar in style as Lara. Trout doesn’t hit as hard, but fighting Trout gave me the experience to fight this guy. I know the mistake I made against Trout. I’m not planning on making the same mistake this time against Lara.”

Rodriguez feels he can execute his game plan and win the fight.

“You need to stay basic," Rodriguez said. "With Lara he doesn’t really commit to his jab. I figure I’ll step to the side, kill his jab and hit him with the right hand. That’s the main point right there. You have to be able to commit. It might not work for a while, but you have to keep throwing the right.”

John J. Raspanti responds to all his emails. Please send all questions and comments to John at:


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