Rodriguez Keeps Rolling, Unlike The Other Unbeatens

by Eric Raskin

Jason Escalera, Edwin Rodriguez - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

Four fighters entered Saturday night’s Boxing After Dark tripleheader with undefeated records. Only Edwin Rodriguez escaped with his intact.

When earlier in the day Rodriguez’s twins Edwin Jr. and Serena blew out the candles on their sixth birthday cake, they must have closed their eyes and wished for an easy night’s work for their dad at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods in Connecticut. Though opponent Jason Escalera entered the ring with a zero at the end of his record just like Rodriguez, his perfection was an illusion born of soft matchmaking. “La Bomba’s” superior pedigree showed from the start of the scheduled 10-round super middleweight bout, and though he didn’t produce the quick knockout he hinted at during a lopsided opening round, Rodriguez gave the supportive New England crowd what they came to see when he compelled referee Steve Smoger to stop the contest 12 seconds into the eighth round.

In so doing, Rodriguez avoided the fate that befell previously unbeaten welterweight Alex Perez and junior feather Luis Orlando Del Valle earlier in the evening.

Read More on HBO.com

Compubox Analysis: Del Valle-Darchinyan

by CompuBox

Few venues in sport expose the truth like a boxing ring. Once the gloves are put on and the opening bell rings, all the pretense and pre-fight hype melts away and all that is left is what "is."

Saturday night's fight between Luis Del Valle and Vic Darchinyan promises to reveal what "is" for both. For Del Valle it is his first fight against a two-division titlist and a onetime pound-for-pound entrant. Are his skills good enough to repel a 37-year-old veteran with 16 "major" title fights under his belt? For Darchinyan, who has lost three out of his last five, he'll find out whether he still has what it takes to remain among the elite and to turn back a young buck who wants to go where he has already been.

Which version of what "is" will emerge Saturday? Their respective CompuBox profiles will gauge which reality is closer to being real.

See more Compubox analysis of Edwin-Escalera and Del Valle-Darchinyan on HBO.com.

A Reformed Brawler Tries to Out-Box His Old Ways in This Stacked Triple-Header

by Nat Gottlieb

A year ago Edwin Rodriguez and Jason Escalera would have made perfect dance partners. Both liked to brawl, neither ever backed down, and they didn’t mind getting dinged up in the process. They were warriors in the “Thunderdome” mold: two men enter, one man leaves.

But a funny thing happened to alpha-warrior Rodriguez on the road to his showdown fight on September 29 with Escalera in a loaded HBO tripleheader. Rodriguez made a pit stop in Houston to get his engine and body worked on and his brain re-wired by trainer Ronnie Shields. What came out of the garage was not a souped up-Dodge Ram, but a sleek Corvette with a lot of muscle under the hood and graceful finesse.

“When I first got Edwin,” Shields says, “he was throwing punches, wild and crazy punches. When he threw his combos, he was off balance. He had like zero defense. We retooled everything.”

Read More on HBO.com

Looking Ahead to HBO’s Fall Schedule

by Kieran Mulvaney

We know. It’s been a quiet month. But with the Olympics behind us and summer soon segueing into fall, HBO’s Boxing schedule is filling up fast. The network has four cards confirmed for September and one already in place for October, with the promise of plenty more to come.

Here’s a brief guide to what’s on tap: 

 

Gennady Golovkin

September 1

Gennady Golovkin vs Grzegorz Proska, HBO Boxing After Dark

If you haven’t seen Golovkin fight before, you’re in for a treat. The German-based, Kazakh-born middleweight is a wrecking ball of a fighter, with 20 knockouts from his 23 professional wins. He won silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and as an amateur defeated the likes of Andre Dirrell, Lucian Bute and Andy Lee. He defends his middleweight title against once-beaten European champion Gzegorz Proska in what promises to be an exciting match-up.

 

 

Chad Dawson - Photo Credit: Will Hart

September 8
Andre Ward vs Chad Dawson, HBO World Championship Boxing

Dawson is coming off arguably the best performance of his career, a convincing points win over future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins. Can the light heavyweight champion be as effective against highly-rated super middleweight champion Andre Ward? Also on the card, lightweight title action featuring Antonio DeMarco, fresh from his spectacular win over Jorge Linares, defending against John Molina Jr; and, from Germany, Vitali Klitschko defends his heavyweight belt against unbeaten Manuel Charr.

 

Sergio Martinez - Photo Credit: Will Hart

September 15
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs Sergio Martinez, HBO PPV

Argentina’s Martinez, widely recognized as the best middleweight in the world, collides with hugely popular WBC titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez in a battle that fans have been eagerly anticipating for well over a year. Martinez has stopped his last four opponents, while the undefeated Chavez has become one of the most exciting fighters in the game. A year and a half ago, most would have considered this a mismatch in favor of Martinez, but with the younger, bigger Chavez improving under the tutelage of Freddie Roach, this has become a pick’ em fight.

 

Edwin Rodriguez

September 29
Edwin Rodriguez vs Jason Escalera, HBO Boxing After Dark

It’s a battle of unbeatens as boxer-puncher Rodriguez looks to move into the world-title picture at super middleweight, and Escalera, who has 12 KOs among his 13 wins, aims to stop him. The fight is the main event of a three-bout card from Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.

 

 

 

Nonito Donaire - Photo Credit: Will Hart

October 13
Nonito Donaire vs Toshiaki Nishioka, HBO Boxing After Dark

It’s difficult to know which fight to be more excited about: charismatic budding superstar Donaire taking on the daunting challenge of Japan’s Nishioka, who recently defeated Rafael Marquez, in a super bantamweight title fight; or the co-main event, which pits Brandon Rios against Mike Alvarado in a junior welterweight contest that, given both men’s all-action styles, is already being looked at a possible fight of the year candidate.

 

Which of these are you most looking forward to? Let us know on the HBO Boxing Facebook page or on Twitter at @HBOBoxing. Let the countdown to September begin …