Edwin Rodriguez has been trying to make a case for big-time, high-quality, pay-per-view caliber fights for a while, but Saturday night sealed his fate as one of the fastest-rising stars in the sport of boxing.
Rodriguez completely destroyed Jason Escalera on HBO's Boxing After Dark in front of a hot crowd at the MGM Grand Casino in Connecticut and a national television audience, scoring a TKO in the eighth round after coming out of the gate like a house of fire.
Once the fight was over, Rodriguez decided to use the opportunity to make another statement by challenging the likes of Kelly Pavlik and Jean Pascal (per Brian Campbell of ESPN.com).
While Pascal is likely a fight or two down the line, there is no reason for Rodriguez and Pascal not to lock horns in the near future.
Pavlik has come back strong after a 2010 loss to Sergio Martinez with four straight wins, including two by way of technical knockout. He represents a significant step up in competition for Rodriguez, but he's not so far out of Rodriguez's league that it would be a one-sided destruction.
On the contrary, the only way to find out where Rodriguez is at right now is to put him in showcase fights that get fans outside of the hardest of hardcore boxing fans excited to see. He has handled his business against weaker competition, like we saw on Saturday night.
There comes a point in every athlete's career where they need that one last push to get them over the top.
Rodriguez has built up enough clout in his first 22 fights, all victories, that it is time for the promoters to see what he can do on the big stage. He stands to gain nothing by going back to the likes of Escalera or Don George or Aaron Pryor.
Pavlik or Pascal are fighters who should be itching to get their hands on Rodriguez. His status as one of the up-and-coming stars in the sport will help them sell the fight, thereby putting more money in their pockets as well as strengthening their resumes, should they defeat him.
A chance is all Rodriguez is asking for. He has done all that he can against lesser competition. It is time for a legitimate star to give him a fair chance to showcase his abilities on a major card.