Delvin Rodriguez continued to hammer away at the right eye of rival Pawel Wolak, even as the area around it began to swell from the size of a walnut to that of a large, ripe grape fruit by the ninth round of their junior middleweight clash at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom in July.
“I kept tryiing to go for the eye like my corner told me to,” said Rodriguez, 31. “Definitely, around the ninth round I thought that the fight was going to be stopped.”
But that didn’t happen, as Wolak fought the entire second half of the fight while peering through severely cut and swollen eyes, the right side of his face marred by the large hematoma.
“The swelling was bad. My depth perception was off in the way that it would be with having only one eye,” said Wolak, 30. “But there’s no quit in me and there is no stopping me. I’m going to fight to the end. You’ve got to put me out of the ring to stop me from fighting. I was completely fine.”
Wolak and Rodriguez battled to a majority draw in an exciting, crowd-pleasing, Fight of the Year candidate bout.
“I really thought that the referee was going to stop it or the doctor was going to stop it,” said Rodriguez. “But I guess they know what they were doing and the doctor knew what he was doing, because look where we’re at now.”
Where they are is headed for Saturday night’s rematch at New York.’s Madision Square Garden, where they will be part of a stacked undercard whose HBO Pay Per View-televised main event features a rematch between RING No. 1-rated WBA junior middleweight beltholder Miguel Cotto (36-2, 29 knockouts) against ex-titleholder Antonio Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs).
Also on the card are RING No. 1-rated WBA lightweight beltholder Brandon Rios (28-0-1, 21 KOs) defending his belt against Johnny Murray (31-1, 18 KOs), and unbeaten RING No. 8-rated Philadelphia welterweight Mike Jones (25-0, 19 KOs) opposite Argentina’s Sebastian Lujan (38-5-2, 24 KOs).
Jones-Lucan is for the No. 1 spot in the IBF’s ratings, with the winner being in line to meet IBF No. 2-rated Randall Bailey (42-7, 36 KOs) for the organization’s belt that was recently vacated by Andre Berto (28-1, 22 KOs).
“I’m very happy that they let the fight go to the very end in the first fight,” said Wolak. “And I’m glad that the fans enjoyed the fight, because we’re going to do it better this time.”
In fact, Wolak-Rodriguez II could steal the show.