Not Just Another
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.