by Phil Rivera
Junior Middleweight contender Delvin Rodriguez has been on the losing end of some controversial decisions over the course of his career. The last one came in 2010 against Ashley Theophane. Teddy Atlas said the scorecards were the result of “bad judging” and Rodriguez abruptly left the ring immediately after the decision was read. But in his last six fights he’s rebounded nicely, going 4-1-1 with two wins coming by way of knockout. On October 5th The 33 year old Dominican fighter faces his toughest test to date as he takes on Puerto Rican icon Miguel Cotto at the Amway center in Orlando, Florida.
What does it mean to you, to get an opportunity to fight Miguel Cotto at this point in your career?
It means everything to me; it means that I have to give my all. It means that I have to train the hardest I’ve ever trained and it means that I have to stay focused. I believe that an opportunity like this isn’t going to come around for me again, so I have to take advantage of it now and make it happen this time.
Were you surprised when you heard your name was being mentioned as a possible opponent for Cotto?
Not really, my name has come up a lot. I didn’t get too excited in the beginning because my name has been brought up in the past. I was told it was going to happen and it didn’t happen, so I kept my composure until I found out that it was official.
How’s training camp been coming along?
I started training 2 weeks ago, so I’m good to go. I have two solid months of training camp ahead of me and I’m going to make it worth my while.
Are you doing anything different in this camp that you haven’t done in the past?
The only difference will be trying to get sparring partners who are similar to Cotto’s style. We may also just step it up and make it a little more intense, but that’s about it.
Both Cotto and you have established a loyal fan base while fighting predominantly in the North East part of the country. What are your thoughts on fighting in Orlando, Florida, a city that isn’t particularly known for boxing?
Yeah I didn’t realize what it was about in the beginning, until I went down there and I found out that where we’re fighting it’s like being in a second Puerto Rico. That’s the reason why they made the fight down there, its going to be like going to my opponent’s hometown. It’s nothing new for me, I made it to where I am the hard way. I’ve gone to my opponent’s backyard before, so this time is nothing different.
Cotto’s coming off of two consecutive losses and many believe his best years are behind him. Do you put any stock into that?
No I don’t, you have to look at the fighters that he’s lost against, all of his losses have been against the best in the world and the best in the division. What can you take away from a fighter like Cotto, who’s fought against the best in the world. You cannot go into the ring thinking that he doesn’t have much to give, because I know that he still has a lot left. He’s trying to get back to the top, so I have to go in there thinking that I’m fighting the best in the world.
Austin Trout gave Cotto problems using his height and reach, do you believe he struggles against taller fighters and will you be using your size to your advantage come October?
Yeah definitely, I’ve stood next to Cotto so many times and the height difference is a lot. So I’m definitely going to use that to my advantage. When he fights someone that’s taller then him he has trouble. So we have to work on my range in the gym and use it to our advantage.
What are your thoughts on Hall of Fame Trainer Freddie Roach preparing Cotto for this fight?
To me, that doesn’t mean anything. To get to know a trainer in 3 months is really hard. The best trainer is the one who knows you, so I don’t see any advantage, if anything it’s a disadvantage.
In your two battles with Pawel Wolak you allowed him to dictate the pace and fought going backwards for the majority of both fights. But against Freddie Hernandez we saw you press the action. Did you make a conscious effort to be more aggressive and will we be seeing more of that style going forward?
Yeah definitely, I think I was at my best in the middle of my career, when I was more active and made my opponents react to me. I have to continue with that style. Cotto’s a fighter who’s going to come to me, but I’m not going to wait for him to come, because I don’t want to react to anybody. I want my opponents to react to me, because that’s when I’m more affective.
What would a win against Cotto do for your career?
It’s going to make me, it’s going to put my name out there to the boxing world. It’s going to put me up there with Mayweather and Canelo. I’m not looking past Cotto, but I’m definitely looking ahead. I want to beat Cotto and move on to the next one, which could be Canelo or Mayweather.
Because the islands are geographically close in proximity, The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico have always had somewhat of an ongoing friendly rivalry. Does that add any extra motivation for you to win this fight for your country?
You know, I’m just not that type of person. I came to the United States when I was 9 yrs old and I love where I come from, but I don’t look at things that way. I love the Puerto Rican people, because of the support that they show the sport. I have so many Puerto Rican fans, so with this fight I don’t look at it that way. I love the Dominican Republic, I love where I come from, but I just don’t look at it as a Puerto Rican versus Dominican thing.
Your first bout with Wolak was considered to be the 2011 “Fight of The Year.” Do you expect your fight with Cotto to take this year’s honors?
I think it’s going to be a good fight, because of the styles. Cotto isn’t a runner and neither am I. I’m willing to mix it up and I’m sure he is too. That’s what makes for a good fight. We don’t focus a lot on defense and we put our combinations together, so you should see a lot of action in this fight. These type of fights make the fans go wild.
Any predictions for the fight?
All I will say is that I have 12 rounds to beat Cotto and that’s what I’m planning to do on the 5th.
Is there anything else you would like to tell your fans?
It’s going to be an exciting fight. There’s going to be a lot of action, so if you can’t be in Orlando, make sure you watch it on HBO.