Saul Rodriguez resumes path to 130-pound title shot
Saul Rodriguez punched his way through many a foe and garnered recognition as an exciting TV fighter.
He really flashed with a first-round TKO of Ivan Najera on a Top Rank show on Tru TV in November 2015, but since then, things have been relatively quiet.
The Riverside, California native split with Top Rank and trainer Robert Garcia, and just now is regaining his footing.
The 24-year-old linked up with Mayweather Promotions, but his first bout under the promotional banner didn’t go as planned. He was dropped in Round 5 by journeyman Oscar Bravo and struggled to a split decision. Now, with veteran boxing manager Peter Kahn guiding his career, Rodriguez is confident he’s back on the path to a title shot at 130 pounds.
“It’s good they’re sleeping on me because the opposition will build confidence, they think they’ll have a chance to land good punches,” Rodriguez (21-0-1, 15 knockouts), who returns August 22 in Las Vegas, told RingTV.com. “In the boxing world, you’re only as good as your last fight. I felt like it was ring rust, too, and I had a few injuries throughout the camp. I never really said anything, it sounds like excuses, it is what it is.”
That’s in the past, though.
“Neno” is now training with his father — “he knows my style and he has time for me” — and knows if he looks good in his next fight, everything will be back on track for a title shot in the near future.
Kahn is confident, too. He once guided the career of the aforementioned Garcia, who held a title at 130 pounds, and believes Rodriguez has what it takes to reach the same goal.
“Neno is a future world champion in the 130-pound division,” Kahn wrote in an email. “He’s young, good-looking, well-spoken and very marketable. It’s not enough to just be a world champion these days. This is where Neno’s value separates him from the pack.
“As a brand he has the ability to connect with the very important and large Latino audience both male and female in the United States and abroad. Add the Mayweather promotional machine behind it and the sky’s the limit for Neno.”
That remains to be seen, but Rodriguez certainly will have opportunities to make good on the potential he displayed while with Top Rank. The explosive punching power is there; now he just needs to refine his game. Rodriguez admitted he needs to work on his jab and patience in the ring.
“The whole transition made the hype back down a little bit,” he conceded. “[My goal is] fighting on big networks and being involved in big fights and winning big fights and bringing a real crowd-pleasing style of fighting. Not fight of the year candidates, but knockout of the year candidates.
“I plan to be a few-division world champion — three or four. I know I have to work hard and nothing comes easy. I have to get better and better every day.”
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger