An improved Elvis Rodriguez seeks impressive win over Kenneth Sims Jr, wants the best at 140
Elvis Rodriguez is not one to turn down a fight against anyone at 140 pounds, however, there are those who are reluctant to face the hard-hitting southpaw.
Rodriguez wants to eventually face the best fighters in the division, but first he must get past former amateur standout Kenneth Sims Jr. at the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on Saturday.
The 10-round bout will open the three-bout ESPN telecast (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT) that will be headlined by the junior welterweight championship fight between Ring Magazine, IBF and WBA titleholder Josh Taylor and WBC/WBO counterpart Jose Ramirez.
At Friday’s weigh-in, both Rodriguez and Sims weighed in at 139.8 pounds.
Rodriguez (11-0-1, 10 knockouts), who resides in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was extended the distance in his last bout on February 20, when he defeated Luis Veron of Argentina by unanimous decision. That followed an impressive knockout victory over Cameron Krael on October 9.
The 25-year-old takes a major step-up in class against Sims, who has won his last two bouts after losing by unanimous decision to Samuel Teah in November 2018.
Rodriguez is confident that he can make a significant statement by notching an impressive victory.
“[Sims] is a good, solid opponent,” Rodriguez told The Ring late Thursday night. “I want to demonstrate what I’m capable of.”
Rodriguez has worked with famed trainer Freddie Roach over the last several months. The hard-hitting Dominican fighter has benefitted from sparring top contenders and prospects at Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California.
“I’m not the same fighter [I was] when I started out with Freddie,” said Rodriguez, who is promoted by Top Rank and managed by Benji Lieblien. “My defense and ring generalship have improved. I think I’ve improved a lot overall as a fighter.”
The young prospect has mostly dominated fights and his rapid ascent has not gone unnoticed. It has therefore been difficult for Top Rank to secure opponents for him.
“It doesn’t frustrate me,” said Rodriguez. “I’m just focused on my work and that I do want the best fights. I want to demonstrate that the best fights will open many opportunities for me. I do want those fights against the best in the division.”
An impressive victory over Sims should lead to more significant fights later this year.
“I just want to show my pedigree in the ring,” Rodriguez said. “I understand you will not always see a knockout, especially [in] the championship fights. [That] is why I’ve improved all facets of my game.
“Fighting on the Ramirez-Taylor undercard is a great motivation. It’s a great fight and just to be present, fighting this Saturday in a great atmosphere, is something I’ve envisioned. My dream is to be a world champion and it’s humbling to be considered among the best. I just have to keep winning impressively and doing so Saturday will be no different.”
Ramirez vs. Taylor will be broadcast live on ESPN + in the U.S. and will stream live in the UK on FITE for £9.99 (live coverage begins at 1:30 a.m. U.K. time).
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Francisco A. Salazar can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing
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