In many ways, almost losing his life has turned undefeated heavyweight contender David Rodriguez into a new person. Rodriguez, 34, nearly bled to death after an assault outside a pizza joint in Arizona. Rodriquez' wound required 125 stitches. The attack is still under investigation. However, through all the pain, anger, and healing, Rodriguez (36-0, 34 KOs) has found hope and perspective.
“Nearly dying made me realize a lot," said Rodriguez. ”I want a title shot now. I’m 36-0. I've made it this far."
Rodriguez's argument is sound. His resume shows 34 knockouts, 23 in the first round.
"I think I’m the most creditable credible guy out there. I got the whole package," he said during a conversation on the phone last week.
Rodriguez has been working his trade for 14 years. His road to a shot at a championship has been a bumpy one. Now, especially after coming so close to dying, Rodriguez gets it.
“Never before have had I felt such urgency, “said Rodriguez. "After almost losing my life and seeing things more clearly, I don’t want to wait anymore.”
But, the down time has been especially tough on Rodriguez.
“To be honest I’m still healing. I can’t spar. All I can do is run and lift weights," he said.
The Texas native hopes to resume sparring in March. His next fight could happen a few months later.
“Yeah, were hoping to fight in mid-June," Rodriguez said. "I need to get to the gym first and see how I’m feeling."
So much free time has given Rodriguez reason to ponder his life and boxing career.
“I’ve had plenty of time to think,” he said. "It’s been a traumatic experience. I count my blessings, in many ways.”
One more blessing Rodriguez is praying for is a shot at a one of the heavyweight champions named Klitschko. But getting Valdimir or Vitali's attention may be difficult.
"If I was the (Klitschko's) I wouldn’t want to fight me either," said Rodriguez.” I’m just as big as them. I’m faster, and I'm stronger. I know I am. They may be technically sound, but I punch like a mule.”
What did the big heavyweight think of Vitali Klitschko's victory over Derek Chisora?
“I was bored," Rodriguez said bluntly. "It’s not what the sport needs or wants right now. Their very strong fighters, but they lack excitement. The American fans right now, with the UFC, like a train wreck.”
Rodriguez, now ranked 17th in the world, thinks he knows what boxing fans want.
"I think the people are just waiting to see some kind of exciting fighter explode on the scene," he said.
"Yep, I know I can’t win a decision. I’m going for the kill," said Rodriguez emphatically. "Either I knock him out, or he knocks me out. I’m going for broke.”
In a sense, Rodriguez feels as if he has no choice. He has to fight.
“I can’t move on until I get this shot,” he said. "This is what I’m here to do.”
That’s destiny, and David Rodriguez wants to see where it takes him.
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