Things were looking up for Edwin Rodriguez (24-1, 16 KOs) after annihilating the competition during the Million Dollar Super Four tournament in Monte Carlo. Edwin refers to the tournament win as "the biggest, most important of my career." That win put him right in the spotlight for showdown with #2 pound-for-pound Andre Ward, a fight that could have potentially propelled him into super-stardom.
Instead, things took a dramatically different turn before the first bell even rang. It mostly started and ended with Edwin's inability to make weight after vacationing and gaining about 40 pounds between fights. He couldn't hit the 168 mark on the scales and immediately lost his chance of a lifetime to vie for the super-middleweight crown, not to mention having to give up a good portion of his purse. He was heavily ridiculed for all of this, and even though the fight would go on for Rodriguez and Ward, at that point Rodriguez really had nothing to win and not much else to lose.
"Monte Carlo was definitely a career-defining opportunity for me and I took full advantage of it. It changed my life," said Rodriguez, 29, a married father of three from Worcester, Mass. "The tournament enabled me to get a nice house for my family and stuff like that. Then I spoke to Al Haymon and I liked what he had to offer and the options that I got. That was something that I couldn't say no to."
"I got all the way up to 217 pounds. I thought that I could take a little time off from boxing. I had a chance to settle in and come back home back home and to relax a little bit with the family but I got myself a little too heavy. So it was tough to make weight and that was an embarrassing moment in my life," Rodriguez was not be eligible to win Ward's RING and WBA belts as a result of his actions.
"Andre Ward is a great fighter and a very difficult fighter and a very awkward fighter. He's the No. 2 fighter, pound-for-pound, on that list right after Floyd Mayweather. I'm not only upset about losing but I'm more upset about not being able to be at my best on that night. I worked extremely hard but the whole training camp was based on trying to lose 40 pounds and to make 168. A lot of people look at it like I wasn't professional and in a way, I wasn't. So I'm trying to move on with this next fight."
So now Edwin is looking to regain form at the light-heavyweight division where he takes on Azea Augustama (17-1, 9 KOs) on the Golovkin-Rubio undercard.
"I am still working with Ronnie Shields but what's different now is that I've learned from that. I can't allow myself to get too comfortable. I can do that after I retire. I'm putting myself in a better position now. I came into training camp at 195 pounds, which is a lot lighter than I was before. I've had a great training camp and I'm not as stressed out as I was before," said Rodriguez.
"I'm weighing in on a daily basis. I'm ready to have a good fight against this type of fighter. I'm getting a chance to show that at 175 pounds that I'm a lot better fighter and I'm looking forward to meeting any of the 175-pounders down the road. I have a good fighter in front of me with a good pro record and I'm going in there to look impressive. I want to get back in there with a win."
Whether or not Edwin has a renewed dedication to the sport will be displayed starting with Saturday's performance. He will certainly have to win back some of the fan's goodwill after letting many of them, including himself, down.