Francisco Rodriguez Dies from Ring Injuries! By Ken Hissner at ringside (Nov 23, 2009) DoghouseBoxing
The Blue Horizon was almost filled last Friday night. The main event fighters were Philly’s Teon Kennedy and Mexican born Chicago resident Francisco Rodriguez. Peltz Boxing and Hand Promotions were the promoters. The vacant USBA super bantamweight title was on the line but much more would be at stake that night.
Before the fighters were announced Rodriguez went to a corner and knelt in prayer. The first round started with both fighters going to war. Kennedy staggered Rodriguez who was on rubbery legs. As it looked like he might go down the referee Benjy Esteves, Jr. stepped in and started counting. There are no standing counts in Pennsylvania, but Esteves is a New Jersey referee. He claimed it wasn’t a standing count but that Rodriguez was prevented from going down by the ropes. That was in debate by several writers and a Kennedy cornerman. Without the count the fight would have been over in seconds. The executive commissioner Greg Sirb was not in attendance at the time, arriving around the 8th round. Being an action first person, if he was there he may have spoken up about the count, but probably wouldn’t have overruled the referee’s decision.
The fight continued with Rodriguez looking very good in the 2nd round with each fighter hurting the other at a furious pace. “Fight of the Year” was in the air per several at ringside. In the 10th round it was clear Kennedy had a lead and Rodriguez was in trouble as the referee Esteves stopped the fight at 1:52 of the round.
While sitting on his stool Rodriguez keeled over and never regained consciousness. He was rushed out by ambulance to nearby Hahnemann Hospital. He was put on life support. On Sunday Kennedy, two of his three co-managers (Jimmy Williams and Doc Nowicki) and his two trainers (Wade and Randy Hinnant) visited the hospital. Whether the other co-manager or promoter visited we do not know. They were later contacted that Rodriguez had passed away.
“We were all concerned about his condition and wanted to pay our respects. We were informed his mother arrived earlier and had to be sedated,” said Williams. Williams also is the cut man for Kennedy. “I have never witnessed anything like this in 40 year in the business,” said Williams. In 1978 Curtis Parker stopped Jody White. White died from the ring injuries at the same venue. Whether it was the same promoter is not clear.
“Rodriguez known as “EL Nino Azteca”, was a fan favorite in Chicagoland”, said promoter Dominic Pesoli of Count Productions. His record was 14-3 (8) and a multiple Chicago Golden Gloves champion. Kennedy was a National champion with a 15-0-1 record. Rodriguez was only stopped by technical decision once previously in June of 2005 by Andre Wilson who also had Kennedy on the deck in their fight. He had won three fights since then, the last in December of 2008. Though rated in the super bantam weight division of the USBA he only weighed 118 ½ which was his normal fighting weight in the bantam division. Kennedy was 121. Rodriguez turned 25 on June 15th.
Our prayers from the world of boxing brotherhood go out to the mother and wife and family members.