By Ted Sares:
It’s ugly but I can stand it. Let them roll.
Just when we have the Rios-Antillon fight help remove the foul memory of Haye-Klitschko, along comes these two warriors to put on what arguably could be a Fight of the Year.
Pavel “Raging Bull” Wolak (29-1, 19 KO) is an incoming pressure fighter who throws lots of punches and usually wears his opponents down. He was born in Poland but raised in New Jersey.
Rodriguez (25-5-2, 14 KO) is a slashing fighter who uses the sharp uppercut as his main weapon and more often than not cuts up his opponents. Rodriguez was born in the Dominican Republic but raised in Connecticut. The thing about D-Rod (as he is called by his fans) is that he is a hard luck kind of guy. His draw and loss to Isaac Hlatshwayo were questionable and so were his losses to Rafal Jackiewicz and Ashley Theophane.
ESPN and the fans anticipated fireworks in this one and the fighters did not disappoint. Wolak kept coming in pressuring Rodriquez throughout the entire fight using body shots to hopefully slow down his opponent, but Delvin snapped off stinging combos and uppercuts that eventually made Pavel’s eye swell around the fourth stanza. From that point to the end, the swelling grew to grotesque Carmen Basilio-like proportions and D-Rod went after it like a Vampire seeking blood.
Both men fought extremely hard, each threw tons of punches, and neither showed any sign of wilting though Delvin came on strong in the last 20 seconds. Both also demonstrated tremendous will as they absorbed and dished out punishment in equal proportions. The stalking Wolak was much busier but Rodriguez threw the sharper and more accurate shots, particularly when he got separation and angles. Meanwhile, referee Steve Smoger did what he does best by letting them fight, but he also had the good sense to let the competent Ring Doctor closely examine Wolak’s eye several times. As the bell sounded ending this closet classic, the crowd at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City was up and roaring its approval. They knew they had witnessed something special.
There was no ebb and flow in this one as nether fighter really controlled the action. Each traded with the other throughout and the rounds were extremely close. Fortunately, judges Steve Weisfeld, Julie Lederman, and Tom Schreck are experienced and highly competent. The scoring went as follows: Julie Lederman 95-95, Steve Weisfeld 95-95, and Tom Schreck 97-93 resulting in a majority draw. Neither fighter found fault with the decision nor did the fans dispute it.
All in all, it was a satisfying end to a great fight in which two men gave 110% to take the next step up in their respective careers.