MANILA, Philippines – Junior welterweight prospect Julian Rodriguez may have just three pro fights to his record, but was one of the United States’ most decorated amateurs of recent years, finishing off a long career by winning the National Golden Gloves and earning a spot as an Olympic alternate for the 2012 team. His amateur record of 221-9 is indicative of the experience he has accrued in the sport of boxing.
Given his credentials, it’s hard to argue against the qualifications of the versatile 19-year-old boxer-puncher from Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. to be one of Manny Pacquiao’s sparring partners for his April 12 rematch with WBO welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley (31-0, 12 knockouts) in Las Vegas.
Rodriguez got his first taste of Pacquiao’s power on Saturday afternoon (Sunday in the Philippines) when he sparred four rounds with Pacquiao (55-5-3, 38 knockouts). Pacquiao worked four rounds with former IBF junior lightweight titleholder Steve Forbes before working four more with Rodriguez at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, Calif.
“He always keeps you thinking,” Rodriguez (3-0, 2 KOs) tells Rappler.com. “He’s always moving his head, moving his feet. There’s always something that he’s doing that always keeps you in check. He has good speed and he’s heavy-handed. His punches have good snap, also.
“It was good,” continued Rodriguez. “I kept my hands up and never got careless throughout the sparring so I didn’t really get hit with anything clean. But like I said, he is heavy handed.”
Though he’s only been in LA for a week, the project has been a “Hollywood” experience for Rodriguez, who got the opportunity to meet with Grammy Award-winning recording artists Bob Dylan and Ashanti. In addition to Rodriguez and Forbes, Pacquiao is sparring with junior welterweight prospect Lydell Rhodes of Oklahoma.
Rhodes had been in Pacquiao’s camp in General Santos City, Philippines before traveling with the Pacquiao camp last week to finish up training. Former WBO junior welterweight champion Kendall Holt was originally tabbed to be Pacquiao’s fourth sparring partner, but begged off due to prior engagements.
Bradley, 30, is also training in Southern California with trainer Joel Diaz, hoping to silence skeptics that feel Bradley didn’t deserve the split-decision he was awarded in their first bout in June of 2012.
Rodriguez, who is managed by Pat Lynch and trained by his father Alex Devia, had previously told Ringtv.com that he felt Pacquiao would emerge victorious, but now feels that Pacquiao will be able to close the show on the Palm Springs, Calif. native.
“I’ve been watching and listening to the things that (Pacquiao’s trainer) Freddie Roach is telling Manny to do, and it’s really technical. Freddie is a great coach, and I think as long as Manny follows the game plan, he’ll KO Bradley in 5.” – Rappler.com
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