Super middleweight contender Edwin Rodriguez remained undefeated by punishing and outclassing Jason Escalera to an eighth-round technical stoppage in the main event of an HBO Boxing After Dark broadcast from Mashantucket, Conn., on Saturday.
Rodriguez (22-0, 15 knockouts), who rehydrated to 186 pounds after the weigh-in on Friday, was not only the bigger man in the ring, he was the far better boxer and technician and he made his superiority known in the opening round by pummeling Escalera from the proverbial pillar to post. The beating was so one-sided that the fight could have been stopped in the first round. It was easily a 10-8 round even though Escalera was not dropped.
The 27-year-old New Jersey native showed tremendous heart by not giving up after the opening stanza, but he was unable to avoid most of Rodriguez’s right crosses and left hooks, which repeatedly snapped his head around, backed him into the ropes and caused him to spit out his mouthpiece at least four times during the bout.
A left hook from Rodriguez, who landed 58 percent of his total power punches (195 of 385), according to CompuBox, busted open Escalera’s right ear, which prompted referee Steve Smoger to finally step in and halt the beatdown 12 seconds into the eighth round.
Rodriguez exposed the difference between an undefeated contender — ttthethe 27-year-old New Englander is THE RING’s No. 9-rated super middleweight — and an unbeaten prospect. Escalera (13-1-1, 12 KOs) simply wasn’t ready to step up his level of competition.
Rodriguez appears ready to step up his own competition, though. He definitely believes so.
“I wanted to send a message (with this fight) and I think I did,” he said during his post-fight interview. “My promoter (Lou DiBella) is whispering (former middleweight champ) Kelly Pavlik in my ear. We want Kelly Pavlik.”
Photo / Edward Diller – DiBella Entertainment/Star Boxing