Edwin Rodriguez has been called the Future of the Middleweight Division. Here is a little bit about an amazing boxer.
On Christmas Day back in 2007 a young man is working out. He has his own keys to the gym. It’s effort and focus like this which lead many to believe he also has the keys to the throne. Edwin Rodriguez doesn’t have to train in a boxing gym on Dec. 25. But, he wants to. He thinks it puts him one day ahead of others who are just starting out, and one day closer to being a world champion.
The 23-year-old Rodriguez turned pro during January in 2008. He had a very successful amateur career. He had his first bout during 2002 and achieved a record of 84-9. He won the USA Boxing national championship for 2005 and the Golden Gloves national championship for 2006 at 165 pounds. Now as a pro, the sturdy, 6-footer fights as a super middleweight and has a record of27-1 with 18 knockouts.
“I have every confidence I’ll be a world champ,” says Rodriguez, who has lived in Worcester, Mass., since arriving in the United States from his native Dominican Republic during 1998. “I know every one who turns pro says that, but I believe I have the background and the tools to make it happen.” Those tools include a large upper body, quick hands, superb technique, deft defense and, oh, yes, outstanding power.
“I have no doubt whatsoever that Edwin will be a world champion,” says his manager, Larry Army, a Worcester attorney and businessman. “He has the natural ability, an amazing capacity and desire to learn and improve and an attitude and work ethic that is unparalleled. I believe he truly is the future of the middleweight division.” Army was his business manager until a amicable split back in 2013.
“Dedication, discipline, determination, those are the ‘3 Ds’ I learned from my mother (Minerva), dad (Octavio) and amateur trainer (Carlos Garcia),” says Rodriguez. “Together, they can put you over the top and make and keep you a champion. But you have to have the basic skills and then sharpened them in order to get in position to fight for a title in the first place. I believe I have all these elements.”
“Edwin has a tremendous upside,” says his professional trainer, Peter Manfredo Sr. “He’ll certainly be a force to be reckoned with as a pro. “He’s very strong and has a solid jab, good snap on his punches, great stamina and quickness,” says Manfredo Sr. Rodriquez first saw a boxing gym during 2001 at the age of 15 thanks to an older brother, Kelvin. Edwin, Kelvin and two other older brothers, Wandy and Octomi, roughhoused to the extent that a trip to the Ionic Boys and Girls Club gym was in order. Edwin and the ring were a perfect match.
By 2005 Rodriguez was a force at 165 pounds. That year he won his first national title, the USA Boxing national championship, becoming the first boxer from Massachusetts to capture that organization’s middleweight crown since Marvelous Marvin Hagler in 1973. Rodriguez was thwarted during 2006 in his attempt to win a second straight USA Boxing national championship at 165, losing by two points 24-22. “I was leading 18-10 going into the third (and final) round,” says Rodriquez. “I was handling the guy, but I got penalized. Yeah, I was pushing the guy. I gave it away.”
Rodriguez considered competing for a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, but the premature birth of twins, Edwin Jr. and Serena Lynn, changed his priorities. Stephanie Rapa, Edwin’s fiancee and mother of the twins, is a graduate of Holy Cross with a degree in political science and has been accepted by the Western New England School of Law. Rodriquez also has attended college, Quinsigamond Community College. While training and the babies take too much time for college now, Rodriquez keeps his mind sharp with chess, a passion of his since middle school. He always keeps a board handy and is constantly engaged in at least a dozen on-line tournaments.
While a family and its responsibilities have tempered many a young athlete, Rodriguez already was mature beyond his years. “I like to think that I’m a nice guy, a humble guy with a big heart, outside of the ring, that is,” says Rodriguez. “Inside the ring, that’s another story; that’s where I take care of my business.” Humble? With an e-mail address that reads “thenextchamp”? “That may be my only concession,” says Rodriguez. “But I’m not cocky, just confident. You can be humble, but at the same time aware of where you want to go.” Rodriguez’s journey to where he wants to go, the 160-pound throne, is underway and gaining momentum.