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Prospect Saul ‘Neno’ Rodriguez talks staying busy, what’s on his to-do list

The young super featherweight returns Friday on ESPN+.

Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Saul Rodriguez seems to now have a good bit of momentum, as he’s stayed busy in 2019, after fighting but once in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

On Friday, he will glove up for the second time this year, on a Top Rank card topped by a Richard Commey 135-pound title defense against Ray Beltran in Temecula, California, and Saul was kind enough to chat Tuesday with the Everlast “Talkbox” crew.

Why was he fighting so infrequently?

“It was just problems with my promotional contract that I had with Mayweather Promotions at the time. I got out of my contract, and then I’m back with Top Rank now. Top Rank is keeping me busy. I signed with them back in November, I’ve already fought with them twice. This is my third fight in less than a year,” said the 23-0-1 hitter, who debuted in 2011.

I delved further; was he getting frustrated or was he seeing it philosophically? He admitted that, “I was mad, I wasn’t even watching the fights anymore, I wouldn’t even watch boxing.”

”Neno” has a soft voice, but he told us that his in-ring persona isn’t about that.

“I like to be relaxed in there, but I like to take them out. I like to entertain and knock people out, because at the same time I’m still a boxing fan myself. When I watch boxing I like to watch knockouts, I like to watch people bleed and get knocked down and stuff like that. I go in there to win, of course, and I go in there with a game plan, but in the back of my head I always want to win by knockout, it’s always more satisfying. It’s an extra topping on top of everything, it just tastes better!”

Love it; skills pay the bills, but KOs go viral, and build a follower base faster.

He’s in against 24-4-4 Mexican Miguel Angel Gonzalez and “Neno” knows the foe has 21 KOs, so he has pop, and he hasn’t been stopped himself. He expects to “break him down and take him out.”

Manager Peter Kahn told me that “Neno” has stepped it up in the strength and conditioning realm, and training in Florida with some NFLers and baseball players has helped his game. The boxer wasn’t certain what athletic aces were in his realm, but he knew that talent was in the area when he went to the parking lot of the training facility and saw Bentleys and such. He is no slouch, he came to the joint in a Camaro, but “Neno” cracked up as we talked about the rides, and yes, he’s looking to step up his transport as he moves up the ratings ladders,

So if and when he beats Gonzalez, what is the 130-pounder looking forward to? Anyone on his wish list?

”I want the WBC belt, the champion for that right now is Miguel Berchelt, he’s Mexican. That’s the guy I want, that’s the belt I want. After that I want to unify the division, I want to get a few belts at 130 before I move up to 135,” he shared.

You can watch “Neno” in action on an ESPN+ stream, kicking off at 7 pm ET. The stream will include the following bouts:

—Saul “Neno” Rodriguez (23-0-1, 17 KO) v. Miguel Angel “Miguelito” Gonzalez (24-4, 21 KO) in a super featherweight bout scheduled for 10 rounds.

—Middleweight prospect Tyler Howard (17-0, 11 KO) will face Manny “Shake ‘Em Up” Woods (16-8-1, 6 KO) in an eight-rounder.

—Ruben Rodriguez (6-0, 2 KO), a 22-year-old super lightweight prospect from Indio, California, will fight Vicente Morales (2-2-2, 1 KO) in a six-rounder.

—Raymond Muratalla (7-0, 5 KO) will look to extend his knockout streak to three against Javier Martinez (4-6, 3 KO) in a lightweight fight scheduled for six rounds.

—Super featherweight sensation Christopher “The Boy” Zavala (4-0, 2 KO) will fight Prisco Marquez (4-0-1, 1 KO) in a four-rounder.

—Middleweight prospect David “Lion of Zion” Kaminsky (4-0, 2 KO), an 18-year-old from Israel, will face veteran Osbaldo Gonzalez (6-4, 4 KO) in a four-rounder.

—2016 Australian Olympian Daniel Lewis (1-0, 1 KO) will see action in a six-round middleweight contest in his Top Rank debut.

—Super lightweight prospect Elvis Rodriguez (2-0, 2 KO) will face an opponent to be named in a four-rounder.

Bad Left Hook will have live coverage of Commey vs Beltran on Friday, June 28, starting at 10 pm ET on ESPN, with prelims at 7 pm ET on ESPN+

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