Saul Rodriguez Eatin

Photo by Al Applerose

Saul Rodriguez "We Eatin!"

By David A. Avila

A highly watched Spanish language television station devoted an entire 90-minute sports segment on the boxing exploits of Riverside’s Saul “Neno” Rodriguez.

How many 22-year old athletes not named Mike Trout get that kind of attention?

Rodriguez (16-0-1, 13 Kos) tests his mettle against another undefeated fighter Antonio Capulin (14-0, 6 Kos) of Houston on Saturday May 30, at Florentine Gardens in Hollywood, California. The Top Rank event will also be televised by UniMas.

It was the Los Angeles-based UniMas that aired this past Saturday a segment on former Riverside Poly graduate Rodriguez and his flashing fists. One of the analysts Israel Vazquez is a former world champion who made a career of exciting fans with his battles. It’s one of the reasons he was called “El Magnifico.”

Vazquez called Rodriguez one future prospect with a bright future and noted the explosiveness of his punches.
Inside the boxing ring Rodriguez has that look of hunger like a shark searching for its next meal. He recently adopted the term “We Eatin” as his motto and had T-shirts made stating that fact. It’s a battle cry and self-motivator meant to remind himself of the importance of each fight.

“I’m facing an undefeated fighter for the second time,” said Rodriguez, while hitting a speed back. “But that guy was only 1 and 0.”

The fast-rising prospect expects a heated battle and counts on his other fighting tools aside from his mind-numbing punches to guide him to victory.

Rodriguez’s team is an impressive compilation of boxing whizzes. First there is Robert Garcia the lead trainer who’s a former world champion and now the coach of dozens of prizefighters from the Oxnard area including Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios. When it’s close to fight time he watches Rodriguez spar and works to eliminate mistakes.

Next on the team is Eduardo Garcia, a former head trainer who guided Fernando “El Feroz” Vargas to a world title. He’s retired but supervises Rodriguez on a daily basis.

Finally, there’s two-time world champion Mikey Garcia who serves as Rodriguez’s guru. Whatever the Riverside fighter is going to face, Garcia has already been there. Plus, he’s considered one of the current best fighters in the world at any weight. He serves as Rodriguez’s primary sparring partner and presses him every day.

“Whatever holes I have Mikey helps me defensively,” said Rodriguez. “He teaches me a lot every day.”

On this spring evening, Rodriguez and two others discuss music, diet, and finances. It’s an unexpected collage of topics one would expect from three prizefighters. But mostly, they talk about the scientific aspects of their sport.

Lately, Rodriguez has been focusing on the defensive tactics and strategies of fighting. Though his idol is “Iron” Mike Tyson, he’s come to appreciate the defensive to offense mastery of Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux. 

But still, he loves to watch Tyson gobble up opponents on old video clips with his pressure and explosive punches. It’s a something they have in common.

“We eatin” said Rodriguez. “You know what that means?”