NEW YORK — When he battled RING 10-rated junior middleweight Pawel Wolak to a majority draw in July, Delvin Rodriguez was trying to end a run of three losses in his previous four bouts and a nearly one-year ring absence while fighting at his highest weight class ever in his 154-pound debut.
But Saturday night’s rematch before a sellout crowd of 21,239 at Madison Square Garden wasn’t even close, as the nearly 6-foot Rodriguez dominated his 5-8 opponent over course of a one-sided, yet competive 10-round, unanimous decision, even coming close to scoring a knockout in the final round.
Fighting out of a crouch that allowed him to whip right crosses, right uppercuts and hooks virtually at will upon his stocky rival, Rodriguez (26-5-3, 14 KOs) battered Wolak (29-2-1, 19 KOs) bloody to accumulate scores of 98-92, 98-91, and, 100-90, respectively, on the cards of John McKaie, John Signorile and Robin Taylor.
Rodriguez pitched a shutout on Taylor’s card, lost the first and sixth on that of Signorile’s, and only the fifth and sixth on that of McKaie, who scored the 10th round, 10-8, for Rodriguez.
“We wanted to get low, because he likes to throw these wide punches. The first fight, he was landing them a lot,” said Rodriguez, who had an overall advantage of 257-to-167 in punches landed, a whopping 237-to-130 advantage in power shots connected, and a 37-to-20 edge in jabs.
“The whole game plan was to get him with the uppercut. So if you’re down there, you can generate a lot of power with your legs, and you can catch him with a lot of really sharp uppercuts. But the third round, he was already cut in his mouth.”
In the final round, Rodriguez landed 65 of 101 power shots, displaying power that rocked Wolak and had him nearly out on his feet.
“I don’t know what held him up,” said Rodriguez of Wolak, who entered with an unbeaten run of 8-0-1, with five knockouts. “I really wanted to close the show this time, and I wasn’t taking any chances.”
Rodriguez-Wolak I was completely different, as Rodriguez hammered away at the right eye of Wolak, even as the area around it swelled to the size of ripe grape fruit.
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.
“In the first fight, I started out a little late. I hadn’t been in the ring for about a year, so it took me some time to get started,” said Rodriguez, of a clash that is a Fight of the Year candidate. “So from taht fight, we knew that this time, we wanted to let our combinations go right from the beginning.”
Rodriguez-Wolak II took place as part of a stacked undercard whose HBO Pay Per View-televised main event featured RING No. 1-rated WBA junior middleweight beltholder Miguel Cotto (37-2, 30 KOs) scoring a 10th-round knockout over ex-titleholder Antonio Margarito (38-8, 27 KOs).
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com