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Emmanuel Rodriguez To Hit Tokyo To Challenge Inoue Or Moloney After Nishida Defense In Osaka


Bantamweight world champion Emmanuel Rodriguez retired out of the blue through a social media post last October. 

Rodriguez (22-2, 13 KOs) had not long become a two-time world champion following a whitewash points victory over Melving Lopez for the vacant IBF title in August. 

“Yes I did, that happened,” Rodriguez said on his retirement, exclusively to BoxingScene. “The only problem was a matter of personal negotiations. I never had a personal problem with anyone, neither with the promoter nor with my manager. So everything was cleared up quickly and there was no need for me to do it.”

The Puerto Rican 31 year old makes the first defense of his second world title against Japan’s Ryosuke Nishida at EDION Arena in Osaka on May 4.

“They made a good offer in the purse bid,” Rodriguez explained. “Nishida was in the number one position to fight in an eliminator, he won on points against the Mexican ‘Chispa’ [Christian Medina Jimenez].

“I like that he’s a southpaw fighter, that’s what I like the most about him. I love fighting southpaws, maybe others find it difficult but I love it. I think my last four fights have been against southpaws. I’m a fighter who fights very well with southpaws, I adapt very well to them. He is going to fight a fighter that has more quality than him, that is a better fighter than him. For me, the only advantage that he has is that he is going to fight in Japan. After that, there is no advantage. I have faced better fighters than him and won. I am a better fighter than him on so many levels. His people will observe the level I have on May 4th.”

Rodriguez heads to Japan while the country is experiencing a boxing boom. Just two days after his Japanese debut, Naoya Inoue defends his undisputed super bantamweight championship against Luis Nery in Tokyo with fellow 118 pound champions Takuma Inoue and Jason Moloney both defending their belts on the undercard. 

“They have good fighters,” Rodriguez continued. “They have [Junto] Nakatani who became the latest champion at our weight. Out of the current four champions the only Latino is me. There is Moloney, Nakatani and Inoue’s brother [Takuma], but in truth that doesn’t worry me. It makes no difference. I won’t let Nishida win, but they are making world champions out of a lot of their fighters. They are stepping them up little by little to win. The truth is that they are doing a good job in Japan at guiding their fighters. The Japanese are tremendous fighters from 122 pounds and down, they really are dominating boxing there. 

“I’ve never been to Japan before, I’ve never had that experience. We are going nice and calm. We are going on the right days, we won’t not go two or three days before. There will be no excuses, we are going 12 days before. We know that the culture there is very different. We know that it will be a big occasion. There will be a lot of press and media there. I’m not worried about the judges at all. I’m not worried about anything to be honest. I trust myself and we know the quality of fighter that I am and we know what we’re going to do.”

Just 48 hours after Rodriguez’s title defense in Osaka, Moloney will defend his WBO title against Yoshiki Takei and Inoue will give Sho Ishida a crack at his WBA belt.

“I would really like to go to Tokyo,” Rodriguez added. “I would be very interested in going after I take care of Nishida. They both fight two days after my fight. My trainer [Jay ‘Panda’ Najar] will be there, he has a fighter who will be on that bill for a world title. I would love to stay in Japan and check it out, like I said I’ve never been there before. If I can get a ticket to go then I will definitely go. They are my future opponents. I would like to go and challenge one of the two after we all fight. Moloney and Inoue’s little brother both have my attention.

“I have always been open to a rematch with Moloney. He has messaged me on Instagram and we have talked about it before. In his last two fights he has mentioned me. With all due respect, he knows that I want to fight him. I have messaged and told him that we are willing, how do I explain… When this happens I would like to challenge him, but not necessarily go directly to him. If I have another commitment, like a mandatory, it can get complicated, but I would like to challenge one of the two, Moloney and Inoue’s brother. “The first one who puts a foot in front of the other. That’s who I’m going to challenge after Nishida.”

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