The knockout: Everyone seems to love watching a guy go for it. That is what makes Saul Rodriguez so appealing. He has attempted the feat 22 times in his young career, though he has come away successfully in 15 of those contests. 68% is not the most striking kayo ratio for a newcomer, but the kid is a banger nonetheless. Go watch him lay Miguel Zamudio out, or Juan Roman Solis. The Mexican veteran Zamudio was cracked hard with a left hook along the ropes in a knockout that kind of reminded me of Darnell Wilson’s horrendous stoppage over Emmanuel Nwodo on the old Friday Night Fights on ESPN.
“Kid Dynamite” is well aware of his power, telling The Ring that “I can change a fight with one punch.”
Robert Garcia said in the same interview: “[The power’s] just natural. The most important thing is he believes in his power, so when he goes into the ring he knows he can knock anybody out. [His power] is very comparable to Mikey and Donaire.”
Flattering praise from a man who has held the mitts for plenty of powerful punchers.
But Rodriguez and staff recognize that more has to be done to get the 24-year-old to the peak of his ability. Power in itself rarely gets a fighter over the hump. Look at guys like the previously-mentioned Darnell Wilson. Peer at Julian Letterlough or countless others. Nuclear missiles are only as effective as the delivery system that carries them.
One area of concern has been his defense, which has been the kryptonite of hard-punching pugilists for centuries. The Californian has been spotty at times and it nearly helped him to his first loss against the wily Oscar Bravo when he was put down by an overhand right that came over a jab that was left out there.
It’s always difficult to say how much a bomb-thrower will progress defensively because at the forefront of their mind is the idea that it only takes one punch—it’s an inhibitor of sorts. If some more responsibility is learned to fine-tune what he already has, we may be seeing a future player at 135. If not, he still has the makeup to provide action-packed fights.
Rodriguez’s next fight is at Sam’s Town Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, on August 22nd, on the undercard of Juan Carlos Payano versus Alexis Santiago.
We will have more answers then.