Corey Michael Rodriguez of New Hope is (like this writer) a graduate of Robbinsdale Cooper High School, albeit from different classes (’92 for the writer, ’97 for Rodriguez). Corey’s brother is John Rodriguez, back in the mid nineties a star baseball player for the Hawks, though Corey is partial to football and boxing. His uncles Raphael, Rudy, Bobby, and Kenny all fought as pros, though his father John did not. The Fistic Mystic had decided to dispense with the customary first-interview starter (“how did you get into boxing”), but Corey volunteered that his dad began putting mitts on him when he was three years old and first brought him to the Camden Gym when he was ten years old. Rodriguez had two amateur careers: the first one, which lasted from age 11 to 17, culminated in an Upper Midwest Golden Gloves championship at 139#. After moving away for college and then getting a job, Rodriguez took up the sport again eight years later with the intention of going pro. On his father’s advice Corey planned to log about 20 more amateur fights before turning pro, hoping to recapture the form he’d had before quitting the first time. He exceeded that goal by a bit, eventually winning two more Upper Midwest titles at 141# and 152# and compiling a final amateur record of 60-16. Corey very candidly admits that it took him some time to get comfortable in the ring again during the second go-around, but says that he finally feels like he’s got it all back. He also proudly notes that during his amateur career he faced Mark Suarez, Charles Haley, Javontae Starks, Anthony Hanshaw, Jacob Hudson, and Daniel Hernandez, among notable others.
Corey turned pro in 2007. To date, his professional record stands at 4-0 with 3 kayos. He’s frequently mentioned as an opponent for other welterweights from the upper Midwest, and there are a lot of them. Welter is probably the most populous weight class in the region, and it’s generally (though not universally) agreed that Rodriguez represents the cream of the crop.
In his most recent bout, against Raphael Magdaleno of the Rice Street Gym at the St Paul Armory on May 17, Rodriguez was dominant. It’s known that an altercation occurred between Rodriguez and some gentlemen from the Rice Street Gym following his destruction of Magdaleno, but exactly what happened is only rumored. Does Rodriguez want to comment on the scene at the Armory that night? “Er…not really. My version of what happened is on paper.” Does that mean that there’s something going on in the legal realm? “Yeah, there’s legal stuff happening. That’s really all I want to say right now…but there were people from Rice Street in the locker room who shouldn’t have been in the locker room.” Rodriguez does say that he wasn’t cut as badly in the Magdaleno fight as was rumored, though he confirms he needed eight stitches and he does have a nearly inch-long scar running horizontally below his left eyebrow.
The welterweight’s current walking-around weight is about 165#. Though he’s able to make weight at welter without much drama, he’s still thinking seriously about moving up to junior middle or middleweight. He said he isn’t taking any fights this summer, only because summer isn’t a good time to try to sell tickets. Rodriguez speaks at length about his desire to cultivate a positive image. For him, that effort means keeping in touch with reporters from the mainstream press as well as web-based writers, and keeping up a profile on a variety of message boards.
Asked to name a professional boxer he admires, Rodriguez smiles broadly. Oscar De La Hoya before he got rich…Miguel Cotto…Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. He is not especially high on Floyd Mayweather, who he feels gets away with too much in terms of questionable defensive tactics and and who he says can’t be considered a true #1 until he gets in the ring with Cotto. Though reluctant to name anyone from Minnesota whom he admires, he does speak very respectfully of Minnesota middleweight titleholder Anthony Bosante. Rodriguez remarks, “He’s worked really hard to get to where he is. It didn’t happen overnight.” When it is pointed out to Rodriguez that he and Bonsante are the same height (5’9″) he makes an interesting inside observation: Bonsante (with whom Rodriguez has sparred) doesn’t spar the way he fights. “He is a very strong guy but he doesn’t always show it…He doesn’t really go all out in sparring; he kind of takes it easy. When he’s in a real fight, Bonsante can kick it up a couple of notches.” On the subject of Bonsante being called out by light heavyweight Zach Walters (23-2) of Horton’s Gym in Duluth, Rodriguez doesn’t see the logic. “I think that what the whole state really wants to see is Bonsante versus Andy Kolle (a 17-1 middleweight from Fergus Falls).” Rodriguez has an idea how it should go down, too: “Kolle and Kenny Kost (14-4) should fight, and the winner of that one gets Bonsante.” He thinks that that event would get a lot of attention and sell a lot of tickets, and he’s probably right.
Rodriguez passed on the opportunity to make mention of any desired opponents. In fact, he takes a decidedly low-key attitude on the subject, offering no comments even when solicited. But everyone must know by now about the trash-talking that occurred between him and Sam Morales this spring. John Johnson of the Rice Street Gym has declared publicly that there’s no longer any chance of the two meeting, but if both remain unbeaten after a few more bouts, you can expect the talk to start up again.
At the end of the interview Rodriguez is in a hurry to get back to his two kids. He’s left them in his parents’ care on this Saturday morning, and his desire to be with them underlines what’s important to him. The young man whose boxing career is a product of his father’s training and encouragement and who is driven by his uncles’ accomplishments, who speaks with pride of his brother’s amateur baseball career, needs to spend time with his children. At the Rodriguez house, it’s family first.