RHODE ISLAND RIVALRY SET FOR FRIDAY
Press Release: Since returning to professional boxing in 2010 following a seven-year layoff, super middleweight Joe Gardner (10-5-1, 1 KO) has so far outsmarted and outboxed his opponents, yet the Woonsocket, R.I., native continues to be one of the most sought-after targets by would-be opponents hoping to score a knockout. "They all try to knock me out, and it doesn't work," Gardner said, "but I'll take it if they want to keep coming at me." Enter fellow Woonsocket native Reynaldo Rodriguez (6-5-1, 3 KOs), who has answered the challenge and will look to play the spoiler role against his former training partner Friday, March 15th, 2013 when he and Gardner square off in a six-round super middleweight bout on the undercard of a show to be promoted by Jimmy Burchfield's Classic Entertainment & Sports at the Twin River Event Center in Lincoln, R.I.
Gardner and Rodriguez have shared more than gym space; they've also faced some of the same opponents, most notably Warwick, R.I., native Keith Kozlin, who has a draw and a win against Rodriguez and a loss against Gardner. Likewise, Gardner has also faced New England foes Vladine Biosse, Elvin Ayala and Brian Barbosa and recently handed Providence's Alex Amparo his first career loss in a unanimous-decision win in November.
Despite his relative familiarity with Rodriguez, Gardner is expecting the unexpected Friday night, especially now that Rodriguez no longer trains at the Woonsocket Boxing Club.
"The last few times I've seen him, he's always looked different," Gardner said of Rodriguez. "The first time he fought Keith [in the draw] he looked great, but then during the camp before the second fight he kept talking about how he was going to knock him out and how he felt stronger than ever, and he ended up fighting the wrong fight.
"I hope he brings that fight [Friday], but I doubt it."
The 35-year-old Rodriguez hasn't won since he knocked out Richard Starnino in 2011 and was thoroughly outclassed by Kozlin in July, losing every round on two of the three scorecards, but the familiarity between he and Gardner - in addition to their past relationship - makes this one of the most intriguing of the regional showdowns slated for Friday's undercard at Twin River.
"You've got to think in his mind he knows the fight he fought against Keith was totally wrong," Gardner said. "When he's in tip-top shape, he's a sturdy guy."
Regardless of what Rodriguez does, Gardner's game plan will be the same as always - box on the outside, pick his shots, and frustrate his opponent into making mistakes. It's a cerebral approach that has worked well for Gardner in recent years.
"I think more than the other guys do. That's been my biggest advantage in the last year or two," Gardner said. "They come out balls to the wall in every fight looking for that one knockout punch. That might work for world-class guys, but not for guys on my level. If I see you a few times, I can usually pick you apart. My game is boxing on the outside. I just hope I can work my pace over the course of six rounds."
Peter Manfredo Jr. (38-7, 20 KOs) will face Seattle, Wash., native Walter Wright (14-3, 7 KOs) in the 10-round super middleweight main event of "Unfinished Business."
Tickets can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, online at www.shop.cesboxing.com or www.twinriver.com, at the Players Club booth at Twin River, or through any TicketMaster location. Doors open 6 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7.