Not Just Another Fight:
Teon Kennedy Wins USBA Super Bantamweight Title

By Tim Donaldson
Photos: Edan Davis


A week ago, Teon Kennedy told me that he was approaching his fight with Francisco Rodriquez as just another fight. However, this was far from just another fight. This was an all out brawl between two fighters who were determined to win the title. This was a fight that would push each to their limit, and even past. It is fights like this that prove who the real champions are.

To look at the fighters as they entered the ring, you might think that it would have been just another fight. But from the beginning, Teon Kennedy and Francisco Rodriguez were in an all out war. Teon threw the first two punches in the first round to get the fight started. Teon looked like his usual self in the ring, calm and assured that he would win. This was a look that never left the face of Teon, even in the midst of the worst that Rodriguez had to offer. And Rodriguez had a lot to of punishment to offer Teon. Rodriguez came right back in the first round. He was aggressive, and he was busy. He was throwing punch after punch to the body. Teon fought back. Near the end of the round, Rodriguez went down, but got right back up and continued fighting.

In the second round, Rodriguez again was aggressive, pressuring Teon and trying to pin him against the ropes. Although Rodriguez might have thought that this would be the way to knock out Teon, Teon had other plans. He fought his way out from the ropes. His punches were rocking Rodriguez back. It was just a back and forth battle between the two. Rodriguez would throw three or four punches. Then Teon would throw three or four punches. There was never a break between. Left, right uppercut from Rodriguez followed by left, right, uppercut from Teon. Both fighters used their full arsenal of punches against the other. Both kept the pressure up on the other.

Teonís defensive technique looked better. He was doing more ducking and avoiding punches. But Rodriguez continued to be aggressive. In the fourth round, the fight turned into a brawl in the center of the ring. Neither fighter gave an inch. It was just back and forth. In the sixth round, Teonís right eye was beginning to swell. Although this could have been bad for Teon, it didnít seem to affect him. The fight changed little. Rodriguez didnít gain any advantage at this point. It still looked like a street fight.

It was the seventh round that saw a change in the way the fight was going. It wasnít a big change, but it signaled that something bigger was happening. Teon was moving Rodriguez around the ring with his punches. Rodriquez was beginning to tire. As the eighth round progressed, both fighters were looking tired. Both fighters were still throwing lots of punches, but they didnít have the power behind their punches that they had before.

In the ninth round, Teon landed a blow on the chin of Rodriguez that left him stunned. The tide had finally turned. It was no longer a back and forth battle. Teon was battering Rodriguez around the ring. This round belonged to Teon. Although Rodriguez looked as though he could go down at any time, he survived to the end of the round. However, Rodriguez could not keep fighting like that. He came back in the beginning of the tenth trying to take control of the round. Teon knocked him down once. Rodriguez survived the count. Teon knocked him down again. He survived the count a second time, but he was shaky. Teon didnít let up the pressure at this point until the referee stepped in and stopped the fight at 1:52 of the tenth round.

Teon Kennedy was awarded the USBA belt. There was the usual picture taking with the champion, and rightly so, he had earned this one. But over in the other corner, another story was unfolding. Francisco Rodriguez had collapsed on his stool and was laboring to breathe. Two ring doctors were with him. Then the paramedics entered the ring. Before they could place him gently on the stretcher, he collapsed to the canvas. He was rushed out of the Blue Horizon and to the hospital. Our thoughts and our prayers go with him.

Teon thought that this would be just another fight. However, this was more than just another fight. This, for better or worse, is what boxing is all about. It is a struggle between the two fighters in the ring. It is a struggle for supremacy, a struggle to say that I am the best. One will be the victor. And sometimes one will push himself beyond his limit.


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