Four years of planning, hard work and dedication culminates Saturday night for Team Rodriguez as undefeated super middleweight Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez makes his HBO debut against Donovan George at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Rodriguez breaks his Houston training camp today (Tuesday) after eight weeks of preparation with his head trainer, Ronnie Shields, for Saturday evening’s showdown that will likely propel the winner closer to a world title shot. “We had a great training camp, the best of my career,” Rodriguez said. “I had great sparring, especially with Cornelius White. Ronnie’s put together a great game plan for this fight and I’m ready. From the very beginning we’ve pointed towards a fight like this – HBO at Madison Square Garden – but we all realize that there’s still a long way to go and our ultimate goal is to be world champion.”
Rodriguez’ manager, Larry Army, has constructed Team Rodriguez, switching to head trainer Ronnie Shields a year ago, and recently adding nutritionist Victor Conte. Army chuckled to himself on a conference call last month when he heard that a strength-and-conditioning coach was brought in for the first time to work with George.
“My job as Edwin’s manager is to assemble a team of the best in the business,” Army explained. “We have the No. 3 super middleweight in the world working with a future Hall of Fame trainer, Ronnie Shields, and now Conte who has worked with so many world record holders and all-stars. From the day I signed Edwin, we’ve treated him like a world champion. We didn’t wait until now to invest in our world-class athlete. He’s always had a strength-and-conditioning coach and nutritionist. We have all prepared the last four years for this fight. We’ve upgraded the team over time and Saturday night we expect the last four years to pay dividends.”
Army decided last year to send Edwin away from his Worcester home and New England training base to Houston and Shields, who agrees with Rodriguez that this camp was tremendously beneficial for his fighter’s mental and physical preparation for George.
“We had an all-around great camp,” Ronnie confirmed. “This was our third camp together and we worked a lot on his defense. He’s gotten it down and Edwin’s ready to go. He’s confident knowing that he’s in great shape and we have a great game plan developed over the past eight weeks. Maybe for the first time he’s been able to focus on just one thing. I sit and talk to him a lot about the high expectations I have for him and that he should have the same for me. We’ve really meshed well together this camp. Edwin’s very comfortable and confident. I think we’ll really see Victor Conte’s work in the fight.”
Conte is the last piece to the Team Rodriguez puzzle. “Science has been brought into the mix at the elite level of sports,” Army remarked, “but boxing is still far behind in that respect. Victor is the best in terms of bringing scientific advances into boxing. We’ve seen what he’s done with (Nonito) Donaire and (Andre) Berto. What Victor has done with Edwin is making a big difference in terms of his energy, mental focus and recovery. Victor has developed a program for Edwin to use at various stages of training, including different legal supplements, protein drinks, vitamins, minerals and, of course, proper diet and rest”
Army was referred to Conte by Berto’s trainer, Tony Morgan. “We drew Edwin’s blood to collect data in order to determine what may be depleted,” Conte broke down the evaluation procedure. “We addressed any imbalances or deficiencies with nutritional supplements. We developed a comprehensive profile looking at his immunity system and oxygen intake. The goal is for Edwin to achieve optimum balance. This isn’t about mega-dosing, only what he needs. He has to increase training intensity but also rest properly for recovery, repair and growth. There’s also the final cutting product for the weigh in and prime hydration leading up to the fight. The exact approach is for the individual, not the same for all.”
Conte’s methods had a profound effect on Rodriguez during training camp with even more positives expected this week. “I felt a big difference during training camp,” Rodriguez concluded. “It’s a great feeling knowing that it isn’t all about training. I’m less stressed than normal because of the proper rest, vitamins and minerals, diet and information provided by Victor. I am more of a complete fighter.”
The International Boxing Federation’s (“IBF”) No. 3-ranked Rodriguez (20-0, 14 KOs) challenges IBF No. 11-rated, United States Boxing Association (“USBA”) champion Donovan (22-1-1, 19 KOs) in the co-feature supporting the Sergio Martinez-Matthew Macklin main event on the DiBella Entertainment-promoted St. Patrick’s Day show, THE REAL Middleweight Championship – Get Your Irish Up.
Tickets are priced at $505, $355, $205, $125 and $65, and are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased through the Madison Square Garden Box Office or through Ticketmaster, at ticketmaster.com, or by calling (866) 858-0008. Call DiBella Entertainment at (212) 947-2577, or visit www.dbe1.com and @loudibella on Twitter for more information.