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THE CLUB FIGHTER WHO BECAME KING

Jake Rodriguez didn’t know who Felix Trinidad was until ‘Tito’ hit him in the face… nor was he expected to beat Charles Murray in 1994. Jack Hirsch tells the story of a forgotten underdog who competed with some of the best of his era

JAKERODRIGUEZLOOKS BACK WITH

AGAINST ALL ODDS: Rodriguez in his fighting peak when he was making a habit out of proving people wrong
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

WHEN Jake Rodriguez defeated Charles “The Natural” Murray to win the IBF light-welterweight title in February 1994, it was undoubtedly the biggest upset boxing had seen since James Buster Douglas had knocked out Mike Tyson four years earlier.

However, it paled in comparison to what the new champion did next. Leaving Ballys Park Place Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, early in the morning, Rodriguez headed to his day job which was at a motorcycle shop in West Islip, Long Island. To the utter astonishment of his co-workers who watched the fight on television the night before, the new champion was reporting for work.

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