Martinez vs Macklin Undercard Preview: Rodriguez and George Could Steal Show in NYC

Edwin Rodriguez and Don George should bring action tonight on HBO. (Photo by Ed Diller)

Tonight from New York City, Sergio Martinez defends the world middleweight championship against Matthew Macklin, a half-Irish fighter coming over from England to try and pull a huge upset on St. Patrick's Day, but it's not the only notable fight tonight. Let's take a quick look at the undercard.

Super Middleweights, 10 Rounds
Edwin Rodriguez (20-0, 14 KO) vs Don George (22-1-1, 19 KO)

The lone HBO-televised undercard bout could very well steal the show tonight. It's more evenly matched than Martinez vs Macklin, for one thing, and both of these guys are open to a slugfest if one happens to come along. Though Rodriguez and trainer Ronnie Shields have tried to get him back to basics in his boxing approach, and get away from brawling so much, there are two things I believe to be true:

  1. Even if they try to box, Don George will force a brawl. It's the kind of fighter George is.
  2. Rodriguez's instinct is to brawl. He tried to box last time out with Will Rosinsky, and it didn't fully suit him. I don't think he's quite as limited, but it sort of reminds me of when they had Pat Burns trying to turn John Duddy into a boxer. It wasn't him, and it didn't work.

Rodriguez, 26, has a few decent wins: Rosinsky (scoring was goofy, though), Aaron Pryor Jr, and James McGirt Jr -- nothing scintillating, really, but solid victories.

The 27-year-old George does have a loss on his record. In July 2010, he was thoroughly smashed by Francisco Sierra live on ESPN2, and he doesn't make excuses or try to cover it up:

"I have that one loss on my record and it wasn't just a loss," said George. "I got beat up bad, it was a horrific beating and everyone saw it. It was on national television and it was embarrassing, but I bounced back and beat a pretty good fighter (Cornelius White). I just want to go out there and prove myself and fight fights like this on the biggest stage in the world. It's just a great opportunity to show the world what I'm made of and I know it's going to be a great fight."

Rodriguez, of course, feels that he's got the stronger chin, that he's going to be able to dent George, and Edwin is indeed the favorite in this one. But I'm not counting George out just yet. He can punch, and Rodriguez has a lot of defensive holes. If George can get Rodriguez to really throw the heavy artillery and go toe-to-toe, anything can happen. I'm picking Rodriguez, but I'm expecting a damn good fight more than anything. Prediction: Edwin Rodriguez via TKO-8.

Heavyweights, 10 Rounds
Magomed Abdusalamov (13-0, 13 KO) vs Jason Pettaway (11-0, 8 KO)

30-year-old Russian Abdusalamov is a former amateur standout, but he's not Alexander Povetkin or anything. He's a work in progress as a professional, as the main thing thus far has been getting his weight down. When he turned pro in 2008, he weighed in at 263 pounds. In his last fight, he was down to 227.

A 6'3" southpaw, Abdusalamov does have potential, but it's probably limited, if not by ability then by time. He's really beaten nobody to date -- Rich Power, I guess, if you want to consider Rich Power "somebody," which I don't despite his awesome name. In his last fight, Abdusalamov beat a little fat guy on Friday Night Fights in a fight that was almost comical, though no real fault of his.

Pettaway is from Huntington, W.V., and has yet to fight outside of his home state outside of one bout in Kentucky. Expect nothing. West Virginia is notorious for producing lousy fighters with fluffy, useless records.

Junior Middleweights, 8 Rounds
Charlie Ota (19-1-1, 13 KO) vs Gundrick King (16-7, 11 KO)

Ota, 30, is finally looking to make a mark in the States. Born in New York as Charles Bellamy, he's never fought outside of Japan, where he's been very successful. Currently, he holds both the Japanese and OPBF titles at 154 pounds. But competition at his weight is really limited in Japan, where most of the standout fighters at 130 pounds and below.

Sidney Boquiren recently interview Ota for us, so if you missed that, click here to listen.

King, 33, should be no real challenge. His home state, Alabama, only recently gained a boxing commission, so he's mostly fought in places like Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Arkansas -- like West Virginia, not exactly the most respected commissions out there. He's been fodder for guys like Brad Solomon, Michael Zewski, and Jonathan Gonzalez in the past.

To the surprise of few, the scheduled fight between Argenis Mendez and Daniel Attah is off.

Other Fights

Long Beach Irishman Seanie Monaghan (12-0, 8 KO) gets to showcase himself against Eric Watkins (6-1, 2 KO) in an eight-round light heavyweight bout. Watkins is another West Virginia softie.

Danny McDermott (9-3-2, 4 KO) faces Carl McNickels (7-3, 6 KO) in a six-round junior welterweight fight.

A four-round heavweight bout is set between Thomas Hardwick (4-0, 2 KO) and Tyrone Gibson (1-1).

Publicist Kevin Rooney Jr (3-1, 1 KO) continues his novelty boxing career against Anthony Shuff (0-1) in a four-round super middleweight fight.

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