Francisco Rodriguez the boxer no longer with us.

R.I.P. – Francisco Rodriguez



15rounds.com is saddened to report that 122 lb fighter, Francisco Rodriguez passed away on Sunday evening from injuries that he suffered on Friday night in his thrilling USBA title bout with Teon Kennedy.

Rodriguez of Chicago and Kennedy fought one of the most memorable fights in recent memory in Philadelphia with Kennedy winning via tenth round stoppage.

Rodriguez sat on his stool for approximately five minutes before being unresponsive and then slumping over before being placed on a stretcher and having oxygen applied immediately.

He was then rushed to Hahnemann Hospital in Center City Philadelphia where emergency surgery was performed to relieve pressure on the brain.

He was placed in Intensive Care and never regained consciousness until his passing on Sunday.

Rodriguez, 25 years old, had a record of 14-3 with eight knockouts was born in Guadalajara, Mexico is survived by a wife and five month old daughter

15rounds.com sends condolences out to the Rodriguez family

Profile by Julia Borcherts

Francisco Rodriguez, the amateur standout with a 76-6 record who has been consistently ranked in USA Boxing’s Top Ten since his first Golden Gloves appearance at age 15, will make his professional debut in front of a hometown audience at the Aragon Rumble in Chicago on January 14.

The event, which is co-sponsored by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions and Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Inc. will feature the first American appearance by super-bantamweight Ricardo “Piolo” Castillo, 12-2 (6 KO’s) of Mexicali, Mexico in a 10-rounder against WBO Latino Champion Edle Ruiz, 24-12-3 (13 KO’s) of Los Mochis, SI, Mexico. Castillo will be accompanied to the ring by his brother, World Lightweight Champion Jose Luis Castillo. The Co-Main event features Chicago middleweights “Macho” Miguel Hernandez, 14-1 (9 KO’s) against “Marvelous” Shay Mobley, 7-4-1 (2 KO’s), of One In A Million, Inc. In addition to Rodriguez, the undercard will also feature Chicago favorites Frankie Tafoya, Ottu Hollifield, Rita Figueroa and Carlos Molina. The main and co-main events will be broadcast on Telefutura.

Rodriguez, a 20-year-old bantamweight, earned a spot at the 2004 National Olympic Trials by winning the Eastern Trials earlier in the year. After he was eliminated in the quarterfinals at the National Trials, he debated about whether to continue boxing as an amateur and compete for a spot on the 2008 Olympic Team or to begin boxing professionally. He also considered giving up boxing entirely.

“It was kind of a long struggle,” Rodriguez says of the decision to continue his boxing career. “It took me about nine months to decide that I was going to turn pro. After the trials, I came home and I was kind of depressed at the decision I got at the last fight. But then I started working out a little bit more and I told my Dad, ‘you know what, I’m going to do a pro fight and see how it goes.’ He’s really been supportive and he knows it’s a big step so he gave me all the pointers he had as a professional. So that’s a really big help.”

Through longtime family friend and attorney Jim Foley, the Rodriguez family contacted Chicago promoter Dominic Pesoli at 8 Count Productions, who was pleased to arrange Francisco’s professional debut.

“Francisco Rodriguez comes with fantastic amateur credentials,” Pesoli notes, “and David Diaz says he has all the talent to be a great pro.”

“He has great skills,” Foley agrees. “And with the power I’ve seen, he’s going to make the shift from amateur to pro very easily; especially under the training of his father.”

Rodriguez’s father, Evaristo, a prizefighter from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico who also fought in Chicago, began bringing Francisco, the youngest of his three sons, to the gym while he was still a baby.

“I first remember coming to the gym when I was about five years old,” Francisco says. “But (Chicago Park District Boxing Director) George Hernandez told me, ‘I remember when you couldn’t even walk and you were in the gym, trying to hit the bag in your Dad’s arms.’ I couldn’t even walk yet and so my Dad had to carry me, and I was already trying to hit the bag.”

Evaristo began training his two older sons, Alejandro and Evaristo, Jr (Tito)., who both competed in the Golden Gloves. Alejandro had good skills but was prone to nosebleeds. Tito, who won the National Golden Gloves Championship at age 17 and then retired from boxing, is widely considered to be one of the best boxers to ever have fought out of Chicago. But Evaristo, Sr. did not have high boxing hopes for Francisco.

“His potential as a kid was not good,” Evaristo Sr. says with a grin. “He wouldn’t really like to train. He always wanted to stay home and play. But as he got older, he started getting into the gym a little more.”

Francisco agrees that he wasn’t all that interested in disciplined routine as a child, and that his father didn’t take him seriously when his interest in boxing returned at age 12 after his brother Evaristo won the National Golden Gloves Championship.

“My Dad didn’t really want to put that much attention into me anymore because of all the years I’d slacked off at the gym and just played with the stuff,” he remembers. “But then he started noticing that I really wanted to do it and that I was putting more effort into it. And then at the age of 13, I fought at the Maywood Tournament of Champions. I fought two years in a row and I won both years at 106#.”

Evaristo began Francisco’s training in earnest, working out of Chicago’s Eckhart Park Boxing Club on Chicago’s near-northwest side. Francisco quickly developed into a well-respected up-and-coming young fighter in the local amateur ranks. At age 15, he jumped straight into the top-level Open Division in his first appearance at the Golden Gloves, which was also his first fight at 112#. He won the City title, which earned him a spot on the Chicago team along with Eckhart Park teammates Juan Antonio Gonzalez and brothers Jimmy and Jorge Gonzalez, as well as Tafoya and Hollifield. Rodriguez, the youngest member of that team, fought his way to several winning decisions over older and more experienced competitors and earned a 3rd place finish.

He returned to the Golden Gloves in 2001, at age 16, and won the National Championship in Las Vegas. He took his First Place trophy back to Chicago and finished his junior year at Kelyvn Park High School, where he graduated in 2002. All in all, he has won five Golden Gloves Championships and is the most recent Chicago boxer to have won a National title. He is also the first Chicagoan to have won at the national level since his brother Evaristo in 1997.

“I fought at 112# for five or six years, but now, I can’t do it any more,” says Rodriguez, who was unable to compete in the National Golden Gloves this year because he could not make the weight limit after winning the Chicago title. “I feel much stronger at 120 or 118,” he continues.

And he’s putting that strength to good use, training with his father at JABB Gym and also at Seward Park, where his brother Evaristo, Jr. is the boxing coach.

“His strong points as a professional will be that he works out a lot and he likes to stay in shape,” says Evaristo, Sr. “And he has a unique style—he has a lot of speed, which is common in his weight class, but he’s also beginning to develop good power, which is unusual in a lighter boxer.”

Francisco agrees that conditioning has been an important part of his training, even more so as a professional than as an amateur. With the absence of protective headgear, the punches are harder and it’s crucial to remain alert and invigorated for longer periods of time.

“Right now, I get up at 7 in the morning and go run for 45 minutes to an hour,” Francisco says. “I go home, rest and then go to the gym. I’m in the gym for 2 _ to 3 hours – sparring, hitting the bags, jumping rope, working on my stomach. I get a good workout.”

He also expects to quickly progress to longer fights if his career begins well.

“I would like to do three fights at four rounds and then move up to six-rounders,” Francisco says. “At my weight, there’s not a lot of fighters, so it’s kind of a fast-paced weight class. In 2 or 2 _ years I could be at the top of my career. But we’ll just take one fight at a time and see how things go.”

Our Hearts go out to his family and friends, and May God be with all during this horrible time.

If you were interested in this story and would like to read more stories alike, and read more about Boxing News and Boxing Press releases, you can continue to follow my articles here on wordpress.com

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