May 11, 2017

Putting the ‘X’ in Texas, a local boxer makes it big

Xavier Rodriguez throws up his signature "X" in the ring.

Courtesy of Xavier Rodriguez

Xavier Rodriguez throws up his signature "X" in the ring.

A high school senior from Fort Worth was the highest-ranked Texan in the National Golden Gloves boxing competition last weekend, though he didn’t win.

Xavier “X” Rodriguez, 18, said he has been boxing since he was 11. Read more in the previous article on his boxing origins.

His inspiration for the sport comes from his parents, Adrian and Lisa, who drove 6 ½ hours to Lafayette, Louisiana, to see him fight, they said.

Rodriguez fought opponents from California, Nevada, St. Louis and Chicago in four nights, from Wednesday through Saturday.

Each time he stepped into the ring, his mother Lisa said she cheered for him.

“It’s another personality that just comes out,” Lisa said, laughing. “So basically it’s just like, ‘Go X, work, just don’t wait.’…I don’t even know if he can hear me.”

While Xavier dresses in his uniform, his parents wear T-shirts customized with Xavier’s name and an “X” marking Fort Worth.

Courtesy of Xavier Rodriguez

While Xavier dresses in his uniform, his parents wear T-shirts customized with Xavier’s name and an “X” marking Fort Worth.

“Oh everybody can hear you,” her husband Adrian added.

Rodriguez said he couldn’t always hear his mom but knew she was screaming his name.

“It’s a lot of attention drawn,” he said. “If you’re not watching the fight [before], then now you are.”

Rodriguez won all three of his first fights leading up to the championship, which he attributes to his speed and quick thinking, especially when caught in a tight spot.

In his second fight, Rodriguez said he was attacked with illegal headbutts to the jaw.

His mother noticed right away that the fight was dirty, she said.

“I put my head down because I was like, Oh my God,” Lisa said. “I just hope Xavier was all right and could keep going I mean because it hit him right on the chin.”

The next night, Rodriguez found an open shot and struck the fighter from St. Louis with an uppercut to the nose, he said.

“As soon as the uppercut landed, his nose just busted,” Rodriguez said. “It was bleeding everywhere. His head just flew in the air and I landed a left hook after that one.”

Rodriguez kept fighting while his mother breathed a quick prayer, hoping the other fighter was ok, she said.

Rodriguez (second from left, bottom row) advanced past his nine other Texas Golden Gloves teammates.

Courtesy of Xavier Rodriguez

Rodriguez (second from left, bottom row) advanced past his nine other Texas Golden Gloves teammates.

Then, the day of the championship came, Rodriguez’s first time fighting at that level.

With a swollen, bleeding jaw and an injured left arm, Rodriguez said he didn’t feel like himself. He’s a southpaw, so his most powerful punch comes from his left arm.

Besides his injuries, Rodriguez said he was dehydrated and fatigued from not eating or drinking anything since the day before.

“I was getting my hands wrapped, just thinking about the fight and what I have to do, even dealing with the fatigue and little injuries,” he said. “It just sucked knowing that I wasn’t 100 percent going into the last fight.”

It didn’t help that rounds in the final fight were three minutes long, not two, he said.

Unlike the previous nights where three fights were happening at once, this time the audience couldn’t look away, he said.

When the round began, Rodriguez tried the same strategy that had worked for him in past fights: a series of jabs to feel out his opponent.

“But the kid, the guy that I fought just had a really high pace,” Rodriguez said. “I was just trying to move and get out of the way.”

Rodriguez lost the fight, but his parents were quick to support him, reminding Rodriguez he was second in the nation, his father said.

“And I knew he was gonna be disappointed that he felt like he let us down…” Adrian said. “But that wasn’t the case.”

Rodriguez said he needs a national title under his belt before he can turn professional, so he hopes to win his next amateur fight.

His mother will just be happy he’s healthy, she said.

“That’s all that mattered to me,” Lisa said. “Rank one, rank two, I don’t care. As long as my son’s ok, I’m ok.”

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