Fresh off his thorough destruction of previously unbeaten Jason Escalera last Saturday night on HBO Boxing After Dark, undefeated Dominican dandy Edwin "La Bomba" Rodriguez (22-0, 15 KOs) is targeting world champions and top 10 contenders in the super middleweight division.
The only problem for Rodriguez last Saturday evening was getting glitter from Escalera's trunks off his face.
"I'm ready to fight the best at 168-pounds," Rodriguez said. "I wanted to make a major statement in my last fight and did. I've feel that I've earned a world title shot. I trust my promoter, Lou DiBella, and manager, Larry Army, to get my world title shot as soon as possible. I'll fight anybody they put in the ring with me, whether it's a world champion, or a top contender. My time is now."
Having gained invaluable experience sparring with the likes of past and present world champions such as Carl Froch, Chad Dawson, Daniel Geale, and Jean Pascal, the 27-year-old Rodriguez has developed into a complete fighter in the past year working with head coach Ronnie Shields in his last four fights.
The super middleweight division is still somewhat muddled. World Boxing Council (WBC)/World Boxing Association (WBA) World champion Andre Ward is clearly the contemporary King who has options to pick-and-choose his next opponent. However, if the WBC strips him for also being the WBA champion, something that governing body has threatened to do, Rodriguez could be involved in a box-off as the No. 3 contender along with relatively unknown Nikola Sjekloca ranked No. 1, one spot ahead of veteran Sakio Bika.
International Boxing Federation (IBF) title-holder Froch has his dance card full with a title defense November 17 vs. Yusaf Mack, followed by a contractually required rematch in the spring with the former champion he defeated for the crown, Lucian Bute, and later next year a mandatory against the winner of the October 12th IBF title eliminator between Adonis Stevenson and Donovan George. (Rodriguez defeated George this past March by 10-round unanimous decision for the United States Boxing Association championship.)
Therefore, the most likely title shot opportunity for Rodriguez, at least in the immediate future, is December 15 against World Boxing Organization (WBO) champion Arthur Abraham in Germany.
"We're confident in traveling to Germany to fight Abraham," Rodriguez' manager Larry Army remarked, "as long as it's broadcast in America in case there's questionable judging. We believe Edwin is ready right now to face any of the world champions. If we're unable to secure a world title shot, we want to fight the best available top 10 contender like Jermain Taylor or Kelly Pavlik, and even Andy Lee would make for a good fight.
"Edwin has fought three B+ fighters in his last three fights - (Will) Rosinsky, George and Escalera. Edwin is always looking to challenge himself and he's approaching his peak. He is ready to make his mark in the super middleweight division."
Rodriguez is rapidly building a strong following, too. He's also rated No. 4 by the IBF and No. 8 by the WBA, as well as No. 9 by The Ring Magazine, in addition to fighting seven times on national television: twice on HBO (headlining Boxing After Dark once vs. Escalera), three times on Showtime (twice in the ShoBox main event), and twice on ESPN Friday Night Fights.
His last six opponents had an accumulative record of 96-7-3 when they stepped into the ring to face Rodriguez. What's missing from his boxing resume is a world title and/or victory against a top 10 contender.
Rodriguez represents the future of the super middleweight division. If he's offered the Dec. 15 title fight against Abraham, the future could come sooner rather than later.
Follow Edwin Rodriguez on Twitter @labombaboxing.