Boxing’s new odd couple is a Massachusetts pair training together thousands of miles away from home in Houston, undefeated super middleweight Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez and light welterweight prospect Danny O’Connor, who will be fighting on October 21 in separate bouts at the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods.
The 26-year-old Rodriguez (19-0, 14 KOs), a native of the Dominican Republic fighting out of Worcester (MA), is already considered a legitimate world title contender, presently rated among the top 12 in all four major governing bodies (IBF #5, WBC #6, WBA #8 and WBO # 12). “La Bomba” and O’Connor (15-1, 4 KOs), the popular Irish-American boxer from Framingham (MA), met in 2005 as New England teammates. A friendship soon blossomed and O’Connor soon started training at Rodriguez’ gym, the Worcester Boys & Girls Club.
They eventually went their separate ways. Rodriguez turned pro and O’Connor went to China as a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team as an alternate. Now, they’re back together in Houston, sharing an apartment and being trained by the highly-regarded Ronnie Shields.
“We’re on a mission to accomplish something special together,” Rodriguez explained, “and become world champions from Massachusetts. We both left our family back home (Edwin has a wife and five-year-old twins) to train here with Ronnie Shields. In many ways having Danny here makes it a little better because we know what each other is going through.”
Rodriguez and Rosinsky also have a history together, dating back to the amateur ranks, where they were members of the 2006 USA Boxing Team that traveled to China. They were also 2005 USA National Champions; Rodriguez at middleweight and Rosinsky at light heavyweight.
“He (Rosinky) is a tough but nice kid,” Edwin noted. “He’s a real fighter, too. I know him and he knows me, but I’m not the same fighter he knew. It’s great being trained by Ronnie Shields, and I’m not the same fighter.”
O’Connor (15-1, 4 KOs) readily admits that he and his Houston roommate, Edwin, are complete opposites. “We are like the odd couple: I’m always on time, he’s not; I don’t like playing video games, he does. I love Edwin because he’s such a genuine person and a great guy. Being here with him makes it bearable. I have a seven-month old son, Liam, who I’ve barely seen because I’ve been here the last three months. I really miss him and my wife. It’s tough, but it’s also funny. I’m very relaxed before my fight but, watching Edwin fight, I’m a nervous wreck.”
O’Connor’s first loss as a pro came earlier this year, ironically, on ShoBox to Bracero. He followed Rodriguez to Houston and rebounded nicely last month with a first-round knockout victory.
“I always try to do better than Edwin,” said O’Connor who will be in a six-round, off-TV bout vs. TBA on Oct. 21. “We push each other all the time in training. If I get a little uptight, Edwin will be the first to tell me and, when I get cranky making weight, he’ll tell me I’m being a bitch. We’re totally opposite, except in the boxing world.”
Shields, a former two-time world title challenger and “Trainer of the Year,” has embraced his New England fighters and made them part of his family. “Edwin has been with me about four months now,” Shields commented. “This is a kid who wants to learn in order to be the best. He will be world champion. He’s done everything I’ve asked. He’s had a great training camp and this is his time to shine. His opponent (Rosinsky) is good, maybe a little heavier – a light heavyweight — than Edwin, but they’re fighting at a catch weight of 172 pounds. He comes forward and Edwin won’t go toe-to-toe with him. This guy is coming forward to knock out Edwin, who needs to show his boxing skills in this fight.
“We’re working with Danny to sit down on his punches. He’s a good boxer but he didn’t know how to fight on the inside. He’s learning how to turn into his punch and I think it surprised him to know he has more power than he thought. He can box but fighting inside can’t be foreign to him.
“I love these two guys. They’re two of the best I’ve ever met in this business. Edwin’s a blessing. How can you not love Edwin? Danny’s a great guy, too. They fuel each other in the gym and are good for each other being so far away from home. They share an apartment and do everything together – train, eat, movies, run, etc. It’s like a family affair with them and the other fighters at my gym. They come over to my house for dinner once in a while. Hey, they’re family now.”
Rodriguez (19-0, 14 KOs) headlines “Octoberfist: Fight Night Done Right,” presented by DiBella Entertainment, against another undefeated fighter and friend, New York City brawler Will “Power” Rosinky (14-0, 8 KOs), on ShoBox: The New Generation LIVE on SHOWTIME® at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast). Also being broadcast live on SHOWTIME® is a junior welterweight co-feature, matching rising contender Gabriel “Tito” Bracero (17-0, 3KOs) and always tough Daniel Sostre (11-4-1, 4KOs) for the vacant NABF title. Both bouts are scheduled for 10 rounds.
Two other talented New England boxers will be in action on Oct. 21. Exciting Quincy (MA) junior lightweight Ryan “Polish Prince” Kielczewski (11-0, 2 KOs) is always a crowd pleaser, while New Haven super bantamweight Luis “KO King” Rosa (8-0, 5 KOs) is a sound, overall prospect.