By: Lou McLaughlin
Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing Newark’s rising bantamweight prospect Emmanuel “Salserito” Rodríguez. Emmanuel is a very personable individual and devoted to family. Also, the 28-year-old works a 45-hour work week for a powder coating company that paints bombs and missiles for the Army. This in addition to his training schedule. The 29-year-old two-time Golden Gloves and N.J. State Champion undefeated prospect originally from Quebradillas, Puerto Rico, now has 11 wins no losses (6 by KO). He resides in the “Brick City” Newark N.J. Emmanuel will be fighting as the Co-Main Event on the Rising Star Promotions August 20th fight card at Atlantic City’s Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall. He will be supporting the Rising Stars promoter and main event fighter middleweight Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna. Emmanuel will challenge Frank “El Castigador” Gonzalez (9 (4KO)-2, Miami, Fla) for the vacant WBO NABO Latino Championship Bantamweight Belt.
Q -Emmanuel, who or what got you into boxing as a starter question ?
A- I was learning Salsa dancing in Puerto Rico and was exceptionally good at it. I earned my nickname “Salserito” for my dance moves. When we moved to Newark there were not any Salsa dance clubs only merengue. I was an energetic kid, never in trouble.my mother took me to a boxing gym to wear off my excess energy. I first became intrigued by the sport, when I saw kids from the local boxing gym carrying championship belts at the city’s Puerto Rican Parade.
Q-What is behind your ring nickname “ Salserito” ?
A- I received my nickname “Salserito” from my first trainer, Robinson Velez, who noted that the ten-year-old Rodriguez would hype himself up by taking a few dance steps before exchanging punches.
Q-What brought you to Newark from Puerto Rico ? I noticed in your bio that you went to Barringer High in Newark as did my mother (long ago) and Wife.
A We were living in Puerto Rico. When my mother decided to come back to Newark N.J. We had some small problems to take care of within my family. My uncle had passed away and my mom needed to help my grandmother. I wanted to be with and to help my family, so I moved with them. Yes, I did graduate from Barringer High also.
Q-What can you tell me about your time in the amateurs and the decision to turn pro?
A-I did 78 fights in the amateurs seventy wins and eight losses. I won Golden Gloves, Diamond gloves, New Jersey State championship, two National Championships. I fought a lot of tough top guys. I have sparred with Shakur Stevenson as we trained at the same gym. So, with success in the amateurs I decided to turn pro.
Q- Are you ever confused with the other Bantamweight former IBF titleholder Emmanuel Rodriquez Vazquez ?
A-I get mistaken for him all the time. But he is in Puerto Rico. He is in the same weight class as me. It is not about being a champion it is about my recognition. My style is quite different from his.
Q- Your last three fights have been with Thomas LaManna’s Rising Star Promotions. Talk to me about your time with them
A- Tommy is a great person. He has helped to advance my career tremendously. Because of him I have the opportunity to fight for a title in this next fight. With Tommy’s help and guidance, I hope to break into world class contention.
Q-What do you know about your opponent Frank “El Castigador” Gonzalez? You both are the same height and have equal experience, except he has two losses as you have none.
A-He is a very dimensional fighter. He comes forward with combinations. I do not see him as strong or fast as me. I will have to get in the ring with him August 20 to really know it . He is a typical aggressive fighter. He will move side to side, in and out. He is very, very well-conditioned. I have seen him fighting going into the eight round and he does not get tired at all.
Q- Realizing you do not want to give out too much information in this area. Have you prepared in any way different for this opponent ?
A-We do adjustments for every fighter. In that particular way “yes.” As I mentioned before my opponent has great stamina and this is my first ten-round fight. The only adjustments that I have made are that if I hit bags for eight rounds, I do ten now. Same with sparring I have moved from 8 to 10 rounds. No significant changes because my team and I always work extremely hard.
Q-Last question, any predictions ? Also, anything you want to say to your fans .
A- Yes, I am looking forward to bringing the WBO belt back to Newark. It will mean a lot to me personally. I am incredibly grateful to my fans. I personally have sold over 200 tickets. I am looking for the “W” for my fans and for Newark and Puerto Rico.
The Main Event for Boardwalk Boxing’s 10-bout card promoted by and to be headlined by Rising Star Promotion’s Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna (31-5-1, 13 KOs) on Saturday, Aug. 20 at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall has been set. The popular Millville, N.J. fighter will face ring veteran Saul Roman (46-15, 38 KOs) of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico in an 8-round competition. The Rising Star Promotions event is presented in association with the Showboat Hotel and the Atlantic City Sports Commission. The remaining bouts are to be announced shortly.
Tickets for Boardwalk Boxing: Rising Star Series Rd. 2, priced at $65 (general admission), $85 (premium), $155 (floor), $200 (front row floor) plus taxes/fees, can be purchased at all Ticketmaster locations, including Ticketmaster.com and at the US ARMY Box Office at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall.