Delvin Rodriquez: Rodriguez (25-5-3, 14 KOs) was a clear underdog to Pawel Wolak for a good reason Friday in New York on Friday Night Fights. The former welterweight contender was 1-3 in his last four fights, although all three losses were close decisions to good fighters. He hadn’t fought in a year. He was fighting for the first time at 154 pounds. And he was facing a punch-machine in Pawel Wolak, who had won eight consecutive fights. That’s what you would call an uphill battle. Well, Rodriguez made it close to the summit. The Domincan-born resident of Connecticut earned a hard-fought majority draw – winning on one card – in a great fight on national TV to prove he can still hang with the best in his division. Not even constant pressure by a naturally bigger man was too much for him to handle. It will be interesting to see whether he can build on this in his next fight.
Pawel Wolak: Wolak was on a roll. He was coming off a sensational six-round beat down of former junior middleweight titleholder Yuri Foreman and had won eight consecutive fights. And Rodriguez was the perfect opponent because he had a recognizable name but seemed to be on the downside of his career, meaning he was vulnerable. Surprise! Rodriguez turned in a gutsy performance to hold the native Pole to a draw. So much for his momentum. Alas, all is not lost. One, Wolak gave another entertaining show — in spite of an eye that was swollen shut — certain to earn him new fans. And, two, promoter Bob Arum said Wolak is still likely to fight on the undercard of either the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito or Manny Pacquiao-Victor Ortiz pay-per-view shows. Arum knows an attraction when he sees one.
BIGGEST WASTE OF TIME?
Juan Manuel Marquez: Marquez had hoped to get in some rounds against Likar Ramos on Saturday to better prepare for his third fight against Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 12. He got in only 107 seconds, stopping the Colombian with a single straight right hand that rendered him unconscious. Marquez’s efforts probably weren’t wasted, though. He will not have been inactive for a year before facing Pacquiao, which would’ve been the case had he not met Ramos. His training camp – including good sparring – undoubtedly gave him the opportunity to sharpen his tools. And even a short outing allowed him the opportunity to enter his fighting mode, which might give him a head start when he enters camp sometime in September. We didn't get much of an idea how Marquez is carrying his weight. He fought at 138 pounds on Saturday. Presumably he’ll weigh more for Pacquiao, who will be defending his welterweight title.
Brian Viloria: The fact that Viloria challenged WBO flyweight titleholder Julio Cesar Miranda off TV in Honolulu should not diminish his accomplishment. The native of Hawaii outboxed one of the toughest little men in the world in a taxing fight to win his first belt at 112 pounds and third overall, proving he remains an elite champion at 30 years old and 11 years into his pro career. In the process, Viloria probably will have begun to attract the attention of International Boxing Hall of Famer voters. Not many fighters his size can claim to be among the best in and around their weight for more than a decade and win three major titles. Viloria might have to win more big fights to gain entrance to the Hall but, based on his track record, no one will be surprised if he does it. Kudos to him for another fine performance.
Kevin Mitchell: Tough but limited Michael Katsidis seemed to prove by stopping Mitchell in three rounds in May of last year that the Briton wasn’t quite an elite fighter. Mitchell on Saturday might’ve proved that notion wrong. The former British and European lightweight titleholder, who hadn’t fought in more than a year, knocked out then-unbeaten countryman John Murray in eight rounds in Liverpool to instantly re-establish himself as a legitimate contender at 135 pounds. He could fight for a major title soon. That’s the good news. The bad news could be that he could end up facing WBA titleholder Brandon Rios, who probably would stop Mitchell’s newly gained momentum in violent fashion. Of course, Mitchell would be happy to get such an opportunity against any major titleholder. And who knows? He might have more surprises up his sleeve.
BIGGEST LOSER II
John Murray: Murray hadn’t faced anyone of note going into his fight against Mitchell, his biggest test, but he was unbeaten, had dutifully collected British and European belts and was a step away from fighting for a major title and the chance to become a star. It was so close that he could almost reach out and grab it. All he had to do was pass this one test. He failed. Murray gave a gallant effort but Mitchell proved to be better and more resilient, breaking his opponent down before finally stopping him. Murray isn’t finished; he’s only 26. However, if you can’t beat a fighter who was crushed by Katsidis and hadn’t fought for a year, you’ll have a tough time convincing people you can beat the best lightweights in the world. Sometimes it takes such a loss to see what a fighter is made of. We’ll learn a lot about Murray in the near future.
Nicky Cook’s back: All credit goes to Ricky Burns, who successful defending his WBO junior lightweight title for the third time by stopping Cook in one round Saturday in Liverpool. Burns put Cook down three times before the loser’s corner threw in the towel only 1:33 into the fight. That said, the most-striking aspect of the fight was the obvious back pain Cook was suffering. He has had back problems but he and his team argued that he was fit going into the fight. He certainly wasn’t fit once it started, though. He clutched him back repeatedly and clearly couldn’t fight. He was taken out of the ring on a stretcher amid questions about his ability to continue fighting. We wish Cook all the best.
Marco Huck: Huck successfully defended his WBO cruiserweight title for the seventh time when he stopped Hugo Garay in 10 rounds Saturday in Munich, a nice run that started only two years ago. Two of the seven are currently in The Ring magazine’s Top 10, Denis Lebedev and Ola Afolabi. And his only loss (for the IBF title in 2007) was to Steve Cunningham, the No. 1-rated cruiserweight in the world. So his competition has been solid. He deserves credit for his success. The Serbian-born German has fought only twice outside his home country, though, in Poland and Switzerland. We’d like to see him pursue the rest of the best 200-pounders and try fighting outside Europe for change, although he might be perfectly satisfied holding onto his title and making big paydays at home.
Juan Manuel Marquez: “I want (Pacquiao) to prepare well, because I’m going to prepare well. … (Floyd) Mayweather’s a defensive fighter, he wins rounds with a just few punches and he doesn’t let you do much, but with me and Pacquiao it’s going to be a war.”