Edwin Rodriguez eyes career-reviving win vs. Azea Augustama
The tournament began in March 2013 when Rodriguez scored a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna. Then, in July 2013, Rodriguez crushed Denis Grachev at 2:50 of the first round in a 171.5 catchweight triumph he called “the biggest, most important of my career.”
“After that, it was time for a vacation. So I went for a week from Tuesday to Tuesday to Disney World in Florida,” said Rodriguez, at the time. “I left the phone in the car for a week, just spending time with the family.”
Things got even better for Rodriguez in August 2013, when he signed with advisor, Al Haymon. Together with promoter Lou DiBella, Haymon successfully negotiated last November’s title shot at RING super middleweight champion Andre Ward.
“Monte Carlo was definitely a career-defining opportunity for me and I took full advantage of it. It changed my life,” said Rodriguez, 29, a married father of three from Worcester, Mass. “The tournament enabled me to get a nice house for my family and stuff like that. Then I spoke to Al Haymon and I liked what he had to offer and the options that I got. That was something that I couldn’t say no to.”
Unfortunately, however, food was another thing Rodriguez couldn’t say no to. His weight ballooned prior to his fight with Ward., who had no problems weighing in at 167.8 pounds. Rodriguez, however, weighed 170 pounds – two over the division limit. Already an underdog heading into the fight, Rodriguez faded down the stretch of a one-sided loss to Ward he called “an embarrassing moment in my life.”
“I got all the way up to 217 pounds. I thought that I could take a little time off from boxing. I had a chance to settle in and come back home back home and to relax a little bit with the family but I got myself a little too heavy. So it was tough to make weight and that was an embarrassing moment in my life,” Rodriguez was not be eligible to win Ward’s RING and WBA belts as a result of his actions.
“Andre Ward is a great fighter and a very difficult fighter and a very awkward fighter. He’s the No. 2 fighter, pound-for-pound, on that list right after Floyd Mayweather. I’m not only upset about losing but I’m more upset about not being able to be at my best on that night. I worked extremely hard but the whole training camp was based on trying to lose 40 pounds and to make 168. A lot of people look at it like I wasn’t professional and in a way, I wasn’t. So I’m trying to move on with this next fight.”
Rodriguez (24-1, 16 knockouts) will end a near one-year ring absence with Saturday’s light heavyweight debut against Azea Augustama (17-1, 9 KOs) in support of Gennady Golovkin’s WBA middleweight title defense against Marco Antonio Rubio at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
“I am still working with Ronnie Shields but what’s different now is that I’ve learned from that. I can’t allow myself to get too comfortable. I can do that after I retire. I’m putting myself in a better position now. I came into training camp at 195 pounds, which is a lot lighter than I was before. I’ve had a great training camp and I’m not as stressed out as I was before,” said Rodriguez.
“I’m weighing in on a daily basis. I’m ready to have a good fight against this type of fighter. I’m getting a chance to show that at 175 pounds that I’m a lot better fighter and I’m looking forward to meeting any of the 175-pounders down the road. I have a good fighter in front of me with a good pro record and I’m going in there to look impressive. I want to get back in there with a win.”
A 2008 Haitian Olympian, Augustama, 31, has won eight consecutive bouts, three by knockout, and was last in action for a unanimous decision over Cory Cummings in June. Augustama suffered his lone defeat in January 2011 by majority decision to Grachev.
“I know that he’s a good fighter and a very crafty fighter and a former Olympian but I’m not worried about any of that. I just want to go in there and to feel comfortable and to not force things and to not look for things. I just want to create things,” said Rodriguez.
“I’ve had good preparation during this training camp, and I’m having no trouble with the weight. I’m just looking to go in there to be the best that I can be. I want to be able to send out a message. I am extremely happy to working with Al and I’m looking forward to having a big year. With Al Haymon and Lou DiBella working together for me, I think that there will be a lot more opportunities coming my way.”