Not too many reigning world champions, the belt still firmly around their waist, retire as such. But Emmanuel Rodriguez of Puerto Rico has surprisingly announced his retirement from the sport via a message on FaceBook. Rodriguez, still very much at the top of his game at age 31 and the current IBF bantamweight champion, made the following announcement:
“Today is a heavy day for me because today I have made the decision to hang up the gloves. I know that for many, it is a wrong decision because, as everyone knows, I am enjoying the best part of my boxing career. It is something that has cost me a lot, and thanks to boxing, I have achieved many things for which I am grateful today.”
With a number of big fight options out there for him, Rodriguez, 22-2(13), exits just a couple of months after becoming a two-time champion. Rodriguez, who goes by the nickname (or went by the ring nickname) of Manny, defeated Melvin Lopez by wide decision in August, the win seeing Rodriguez pick up the IBF 118-pound belt that had been vacated by Naoya Inoue, who KO’d Rodriguez back in May of 2019, this in the World Boxing Super Series tournament.
Bouncing back after losing the IBF title to “The Monster,” Rodriguez, who had won the IBF title by defeating Paul Butler in 2018 and had made one successful defense, dropped a split decision to Reymart Gaballo in a shot at the WBC interim title. Rodriguez then boxed a no-contest with Gary Antonio Russell before he won the return with Russel – this on a technical decision, headbutts again being a real issue in the fight.
Then, just over two months ago, Rodriguez looked great in knocking Lopez down three times in the final round, this cementing his big decision win. And now……..retirement. Only time will tell if Rodriguez makes his retirement stick, but as of right now, we fans wish Emmanuel all the very best in retirement.
Again, far too few fighters go out on top as champs on their own terms. Good on Rodriguez for joining the short list of people to have done so.