HBO's Boxing After Dark is known as a launching pad for young prospects to ascend to superstardom. On Saturday night super-middleweight Edwin Rodriguez took a step toward becoming a name in the 168-pound division.
Rodriguez (22-0 15 KO) used his superior punching power to dominate fellow prospect Jason Escalara (13-1 12 KO), winning by eighth-round TKO.
Rodriguez blitzed Escalara in the first round, pounding him along the ropes and hurting him with several hard power shots. The round was so one-sided that one could argue it deserved a 10-8 score without a knockdown.
To his credit, Escalara was able to weather the early storm and never stopped throwing back. His punches just weren't as effective as his opponents.
He was again badly hurt toward the end of the fifth round, but Rodriguez was slow to react and gave his opponent some time to collect himself before going back on the attack.
At the beginning of the eighth round Rodriguez came out of the corner and landed a thudding left hand which forced a dazed Escalara into the ropes and badly busted open his ear. Almost immediately referee Steve Smoger stepped in to stop the fight.
In the evening's co-feature, former three-division world champion Vic Darchinyan (38-5-1 27 KO) returned to his winning ways with an easy unanimous decision win over prospect Luis Orlando Del Valle (16-1 11 KO).
Darychinyan was simply too much to chew for the younger fighter, who had never before stepped in with a fighter of his class.
The "Raging Bull" controlled the action throughout, using his awkward style and aggressive in-fighting to frustrate and control his opponent. Scores were 99-91 twice and 96-94 for the former champion, who had lost his previous two fights.
Del Valle was simply not ready for a guy in Darchinyan's class. He was game and never backed down, staggering Darchinyan in the ninth round, but was clearly outclassed.