Former junior middleweight title challenger Delvin Rodriguez vows not to be “an easy comeback fight” for Puerto Rican three-division titlewinner Miguel Cotto when they meet on Oct. 5 on HBO at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., site of a 2 p.m. open-to-the-public press conference announcing the event on Tuesday.
“Listen, I love the fight, and I’m hoping that he’s looking at it that way, that it’s going to be easy. Not saying that I think that he is thinking that, though, because I think that he knows that I’m not going to make it an easy fight. The fans? Maybe the fans who don’t really know boxing that much, they may think that it’s going to be an easy comeback fight for Cotto. I’m hoping that Cotto is thinking that way and I hope that his camp is thinking that way,” said Rodriguez.
“Because that’s going to make it easier for me. I think that if he is thinking that, then he’s going to be in for a surprise when he gets hit with that first solid jab, or that first right hand, you know? That’s going to be great. I like to see the surprise in people’s faces. Like I say, I’ve got to take advantage of this situation because this fight might be my last opportunity to fight such a big fight like this. So I’m going to take advantage of it. I’m going to work harder than ever. I’m going to go for it.”
A 33-year-old resident of Danbury, Conn., who is of Dominican descent, Rodriguez (28-6-3, 16 KOs) has won two straight by knockout since falling by unanimous decision to Austin Trout in June of 2012.
Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs), who turns 32 on Oct. 29, fought his past two bouts under the Golden Boy Promotions banner, falling by unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Trout in May and December of last year, respectively.
“I’m not going to wait for the moments like I did with Trout, so that really doesn’t help me. I just saw that Cotto really couldn’t deal with Trout’s speed and with Trout’s movement. He was falling off balance a lot of times, and Trout was taking advantage of that,” said Rodriguez.
“Trout has quick feet, and that’s something that people don’t realize until they get into the ring with him. Trout might not have the fastest hands, but he’s got quick feet, which he used well against Cotto and always had him off balance.”
Cotto’s last victory was under the banner of Top Rank — his promoter from the outset of his career — and was in December of 2011 by 10th-round knockout over Antonio Margarito.
Standing nearly 6-foot tall compared to Cotto’s 5-7, Rodriguez will try to use his height to his advantage.
“I believe that Cotto has had trouble fighting taller guys, like when he fought Antonio Margarito, he had trouble,” said Rodriguez of Margarito, with whom Cotto has split knockout victories.
“Trout was the last guy he fought and he gave him trouble, so I’m going to try to do the same thing. Basically, I’m not going to be running around, but I’m going to keep him at a distance and in the middle of the ring.”
Given that the battle-tested Cotto has endured various facial cuts over the course of more than a few bloody fights — including a loss to Manny Pacquiao and a triumph over Joshua Clottey — Rodriguez said he won’t hesitate to press if the crimson begins to flow from his adversary’s face.
“Definitely, because he’s a guy who has been in a lot of tough fights and he’s been cut a lot of times,” said Rodriguez.
“I believe that once I start hitting him with the right hand and the jab, that it’s going to show, because I can do a good job of cutting guys, so I have no doubt that that’s going to effect him if that happens.”
In his past two fights, Rodriguez knocked out previously unbeaten George Tahdooahnippah in the sixth in February, and Freddy Hernandez in the eighth in May, the latter, after Hernandez had gone the distance in consecutive losses to Erislandy Lara and Demetrius Andrade.
“People don’t want to see anyone who hasn’t fought anybody,” said Rodriguez, had fought to a draw and a unanimous decision, respectively, over Pawel Wolak in July and December of 2011 prior to facing Trout.
“People know me as a warrior and that I’m ready for whatever when I step into the ring. Hernandez is a guy who has been in there with everybody and he’s a tough guy, and those are the types of fights that prepare you for the kind of fight that I’m going to have with Cotto. So if it’s a war, then I’m ready for war.”
Rodriguez’s manager is 26-year-old A.J. Galante, who also handles unbeaten Brooklyn junior middleweight Frank Glarza.
“I’ve been managing Delvin since March of 2011. I had him for his first Pawel Wolak fight…People are saying that Cotto is washed up, which I don’t believe…I’m a young man. I’m only 26 years old. I’m younger than Delvin. People don’t know that, so it’s funny that it works that way. I’m just a young, up and coming manager and I’m looking to learn,” said Galante.
“It’s been a baptism by fire. I’ve learned a lot in two years, and we’ve come a long way. But it’s a team effort, and our promoter, Joe DeGuardia, had done a good job way before I came along. We’ve come a long way, and this is a testament to Delvin’s hard work. People have been all over me this past weekend about getting the Cotto fight, but I’m not the type of guy to just be happy getting a big fight. The real test is to win. It’s a must-win.”
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]