When Jerome Rodriguez takes on Naim Nelson in their slated eight-round affair at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia Friday night, Rodriguez will not only try to pull off the upset but in the process stamp his name as a boxer to watch in 2014.
Their bout will be the main of event of a solid card as boxing returns to the newly re-named facility.
The 27-year-old Rodriguez did not turn pro until he 2012 when he was 25-years-old. Two years later, he feels his time is now, despite having what many would consider a late start in the game.
“I was 32-10 in the amateur ranks and I never understand boxing like I do now,” the soft-spoken Rodriguez said Friday with On “Q” Sports hours before the biggest fight of his career.
“I played football and ran track in high school and then ran track in college, so I was always used to the team work concept. But now I get it, in boxing it is all on you, you mess up, and it is on you, no team. You are out there by yourself.”
Rodriguez finds himself alone in the ring Friday night against Nelson (11-0, 1 Ko) who many consider a top prospect in Philly, in spite of the fact that he has dealt with a hand injury that limited him to just one bout in 2013 — when he out-pointed another Philadelphian, George Kevlishvili — early in the year, at Valley Forge, PA.
“He (Nelson) is a very down to earth gentleman outside the ring, and a very tough fighter inside the ring. I was impressed by what I saw of him a couple of times,” Rodriguez added.
“I am a southpaw and I did see him have some issues at times against Christian Steele. Steele switched up southpaw from time to time, I watched and I see where I might have some opportunity.”
Nelson, 23, is on a nice 11-fight streak since turning pro nearly three years ago. He beat fellow-Philadelphian Victor Vasquez for the vacant Pennsylvania Lightweight Title (135 pounds) in 2012, but he has made it known that he wants to campaign as a junior welterweight (140).
The bout against Steele in late January was a tough one, but Nelson
earned an eight-round decision over the fellow-Philadelphian at Harrah’s Philadelphia.
Rodriguez’ biggest win came when he traded first-round knockdowns with Treysean Wiggins, of Newburgh, NY, on June 14, 2013, at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem (PA), then finished Wiggins off in round two in fashion.
Friday’s fight will mark only the second time in his pro career that Rodriguez has boxed outside of his adopted hometown of Bethlehem, PA.
Last year he earned a six-round decision over Rafael Montalvo, of St. Clair, PA, at Valley Forge.
Fighting in a hostile environment does not bother Rodriquez (6-0-3, 2 Ko’s), who only thinks about what he needs to do in the ring for a win.
“I study boxing, I am a fan of boxing, and my style can be dangerous. I am a boxer, puncher and can create offense from my defense. As a southpaw it is tough to get fights, most of my fights have been against fellow southpaws, but I am focused, I feel good and I have some extra juice now. I am ready to go.”
Rich Quinones is an award winning broadcaster and the lead blow-by-blow Boxing voice for GFL.tv and Go Fight Live’s Boxing on Comcast. He has sat ringside calling the action with Monte Barrett, Brian Adams, Amir Mansour, Danny Garcia, James Kirkland, Mark Breland, Ronnie Shields, Teddy Atlas and Lou DiBella, while broadcasting over 125 bouts for GFL in 2013-2014.