Juan Rodriguez Jr. stopped short of making any predictions in advance of his Friday, July 17th, 2015 bout against unbeaten welterweight Nick DeLomba, but has little doubt as to which fighter would benefit more in an old-fashioned slugfest.
“Every boxer has a puncher’s chance. If you get caught with the right one, that’s it,” said the Union City, N.J., southpaw, “but the record shows I have the advantage if it becomes a brawl.”
The 5-foot-9 slugger with five knockouts on his record represents the toughest, most dangerous test of DeLomba’s young career. The 29-year-old Rodriguez Jr. enters next Friday’s bout at 12-2, a lengthy resume that includes showdowns against welterweight standouts Sammy Vazquez and Taras Shelestyuk, the latter on ESPN2. He and DeLomba will square off in the six-round co-feature of CES Boxing’s “Rhode To Redemption” card at Twin River Casino.
“I think he’s going to be a good opponent to make us look and put us on that next level,” DeLomba said. “He’s a traditional, tough opponent. Comes forward.
“Like I said before, I can adapt to anything in the ring. We just come up with a game plan and take to it and I adapt to whatever he throws out there.”
The soft-spoken DeLomba (7-0, 1 KO) has every reason to be confident after putting together his most complete performance April 3rd in a knockout win over regional rival Joe Wilson Jr. His road to 7-0 was an unlikely one, starting exclusively with six-round bouts, which merely meant the competition across the ring was guaranteed to be as tough, if not tougher, on a nightly basis.
The truth is, DeLomba’s never had it easy; his professional debut in 2013 was a six-round slugfest with ex-Marine Jimmy Smith, a bloody battle in which DeLomba emerged victorious on the scorecards. In his fourth fight, he beat 12-fight vet Edwin Soto in Soto’s backyard in Connecticut. Now it’s a 12-2 southpaw with twice as many fights.
Regardless of the challenge, DeLomba is at his peak both physically and mentally working with coach Victor Fagnant, a welcome change from the early days when he bounced from gym to gym with no real positive influence in his corner. The results showed April 3rd when DeLomba scored his first career knockout just days after forecasting his improved power in training camp.
“We trained hard. Our training camp was phenomenal. Preparation, everything was perfect. I felt phenomenal in that fight,” DeLomba said of his April 3rd win over Wilson Jr.
“Vic’s just working on my technique, making me sit down on my punches more, getting away from my amateur style of on your toes, up and throwing fast flurries and instead waiting a half second and cracking a little more.”
Though DeLomba doesn’t watch much video – “I leave that up to coach Vic,” he said – he might be able to glean some useful information from Rodriguez’s two losses, particularly the one against the rising prospect Vazquez in which he hit the canvas three times before the referee stopped the bout.
But Rodriguez admits he was tentative in those fights. He held back and didn’t let his hands go as much as he’s done in previous fights. That, he predicts, will all change July 17th.
“You’re going to see a different Juan Rodriguez,” he said matter-of-factly. “More accurate, more precise with my punches – busier. I laid back sometimes in those other fights. I went back into boxing mode a little too much, and that really doesn’t favor me.
“I’m ready to rock and roll,” he added. “If I have to brawl, I’ll brawl. If I have to box, I’ll box. My record shows when a fight come my way, I don’t back down from anybody.”