Veteran light middleweight boxer Delvin Rodriguez put himself back into title contention last night with a dominating performance over formerly undefeated George Tahdooahnippah at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights". It was an uneasy fight to watch as Tahdooahnippah, a member of the Comanche tribe, was in territory he had clearly never ventured into before and from where he may not be able to return.
Rodriguez (27-6-3, 15 KO's) may have come into the evening with the less impressive record following an uninspiring outing against Austin Trout for the WBA light middleweight title last June, but he was the far more skilled and was a more wise fighter last night. He established his presence early with several overhand rights that consistently hit the mark, while Tahdooahnippah (31-1-1, 23 KO's) fell dreadfully short with his punches.
In the second round, Rodriguez, a native of the Dominican Republic who now resides in Danbury, Connecticut, fired up his hometown fans as he torpedoed Tahdooahnippah with multiple right hands. Pinned in the corner by round's end, the 34-year old American Indian was unable to defend himself as he absorbed clean shot after shot. It appeared it would be an early night for all involved, as Tahdooahnippah was thoroughly overwhelmed. However, Eddie Cotton did not jump in to stop the action and the bell sounded to end Round 2.
Following this display of questionable judgment came an unusual case of miscommunication when Cotton waved off the fight between the second and third round. Without confirming this with Tahdooahnippah's corner, Cotten declared the fight over as Team Rodriguez began to celebrate in the ring. After vehement protesting by Tahdooahnippah's corner that no such decision had been made, Cotton quickly admitted his mistake and resumed the action.
It would just be a delay of the inevitable as Rodriguez went onto supply the same degree of punishment over the following three rounds in a grossly one-sided contest. Tahdooahnippah offered no form of offense and his solid chin was the only defense he could muster as Rodriguez continued to land at will with a wide variety of blows, including a legal body shot that curiously drew a stern warning from Cotton in Round 4.
Mercilessly and inexplicably, Cotton, the ringside doctor and Tahdooahnippah's corner all allowed the fight to continue into the sixth round where Rodriguez once again connected with a series of chopping right hands that drove his weary opponent into the ropes. The end finally came at 2:41 of Round 6 when Cotton, after showing some signs of hesitation to jump in, finally did so. It was an untypical display of tentativeness and confusion by the veteran referee.
What was not untypical was Rodriguez's expression of desire after the fight to face the top light middleweights in the division so he can position himself for another world title shot. While it may have been the quality of his opponent, the 32-year old Rodriguez was far more relaxed, active and accurate last night than he was eight months ago. If he can perform like this against the top rated light middleweights, the 154-pound division will continue to be one of the most intriguing in boxing.
After receiving such a rude awakening to the realities of world prizefighting at the ripe age of 34, it is unlikely that Tahdooahnippah will have enough time to regroup from this loss and re-build the kind of career that will lead him to a world title shot. Aside from courage and a solid chin, he did not display any significant abilities that would lead one to believe he can compete at the world class level. Unfortunately, with over 30 'soft' fights under his belt all held in his home state of Oklahoma, he has more work to do to even be deemed a gatekeeper for up and coming prospects.
In the opening bout, lightweight Chris “Hurricane” Howard (15-2-1, 7 KOs) scored a spectacular one-punch third round KO over “The Mongolian Mongoose” Bayan Jargal (17-4-3, 10 KOs). A straight right hand that was set up by a double left jab landed spot on the jaw, dropping Jargal who was deemed unable to continue when he was unsteady while trying to walk it off. Time was 1:46.
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