TASTY TIDBITS North Bergen native Rodriguez ready for next boxing challenge

O’Donnell mourned; HCTCA champions; county tourney finalists; top fives

It’s been five long months since Julian Rodriguez entered a boxing ring, but he’s more than ready for his return.
The North Bergen native and rising professional super lightweight showed to a throng of onlookers Monday afternoon that he was ready for his next challenge, when he had a media workout at the Everlast Gym in Hoboken.
Rodriguez was training to make his return to the ring after undergoing shoulder surgery last summer. His first fight after the surgery took place in Omaha, Nebraska in October, a four-round fight he won by a unanimous decision. He was set to fight at Madison Square Garden, his second bout in boxing’s mecca, last Saturday night.
“I’m 100 percent ready,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve trained this hard for this fight.”
Rodriguez was slated to face King Daluz in an eight-round bout, hopefully the next step up the ladder toward a possible championship down the road.
But according to Rodriguez’s trainer/father Alex Devia, there’s no rush to get Rodriguez a title fight.
“He’s going to stay the course and take his time,” Devia said after putting Rodriguez through the tough workout. “We have total trust in Top Rank [Rodriguez’s promoters]. When they tell me this is the guy for Julian, then I listen. I’ve learned from them in guiding my son’s career. But he’s still young. He’s only 21. He turned pro young. Top Rank has given us quality opponents thus far, but we don’t want to put him in a tough situation too soon. He’s still coming up.”
Devia likes the way Rodriguez, now 11-0 in his pro career, has been progressing. He won the national Golden Gloves championship as an amateur in 2013 and won national championships at ages 9 and 10, dating back to 2004.
You can check out Rodriguez’s first article here in the North Bergen Reporter in 2004 at this link: http://www.hudsonreporter.com/view/full_story/2399831/article-9-year-old-national-boxing-champion-NB-s-Rodriguez-a-rising-star-of-the-ring.
“He’s right on plan,” Devia said. “We work with the best in the business.”
Rodriguez’s manager is Union City’s Pat Lynch, who was once in charge of the career of the late Arturo Gatti, during Gatti’s heyday.
Lynch said that he is looking into the possibility of getting Rodriguez a bout in northern New Jersey in the future, as soon as he finds a suitable venue to hold Rodriguez’s growing fan base.
In the meantime, Rodriguez, known by his nickname “Hammer Hands,” is ready for the bout under the big lights of the Garden.
“I’ve fought there twice already, but every time, it’s a different experience,” Rodriguez said. “The crowd should be bigger. The excitement should be higher. It motivates me more. I’ve done what I’ve had to do. I think we’re in for a good one.”
As for the media workout?
“I love it,” Rodriguez said. “I’m able to show my skills more. I’m able to give the fans more of a show. I show my speed and footwork. It’s all part of the plan. I know I’m ready.”…
The tragic car accident that took place Monday afternoon on the New Jersey Turnpike took the lives of former County Prep and Hudson Catholic head softball coach Tim O’Donnell and his young daughter Bridget, 5, called Bridie.
From a pure sports standpoint, it was a huge loss, because O’Donnell is the only softball coach in history to be named Hudson Reporter Coach of the Year at two different schools.
O’Donnell was selected as the Coach of the Year in 2007 when he was at County Prep, which has since discontinued all interscholastic sports. He moved on to Hudson Catholic, where he took that fledgling program to new heights and earned Coach of the Year honors again in 2012. He had been a beloved science teacher at County Prep for over a decade.
“He was a great guy,” said Terry Matthews, the former athletic director at Hudson Catholic who hired O’Donnell to run his year-old softball program nine years ago. “He was accomplished and had been successful before, so he was a great fit when he came in. He knew how to handle the girls and always did a little something extra outside of the field. He took a program that was really raw and molded it into a champion. He put us in a great direction. He was the right man at the right time and put us in a great direction. We reaped the benefits of having him. He was a great example of what a coach should be. He built a solid foundation for our program and was a loved member of our family. It’s a tragic loss.”
But from a personal standpoint, Timmy was a good friend, a big hearted wonderful man who was always willing to help anyone and everyone. He was a fun guy who had a sensational sense of humor and made people laugh constantly, even when there was no room for laughter. We spent two summers working together, coordinating a sports program for youngsters in Lincoln Park in Jersey City. Getting through those hot summer days was a lot easier with Timmy cracking jokes and making everyone feel better.
It’s such a heartbreaking loss, because not only did the senseless accident cost his life, but also the life of his beautiful daughter. Words can’t even begin to express the sorrow and empty feelings I have right now. Prayers and thoughts go out to Timmy’s wife, Pam, and their other daughter, Ali
Sad to read that two former Lincoln High School football greats were arrested recently at a downtown Jersey City hotel, after being accused of assaulting Jersey City police officers who were trying to break up a party in the hotel where alcohol and marijuana were allegedly present.
Ronald Butler, who was a standout with the Lions before getting a big break at Utah State, and Zymire Gordon, who is still currently enrolled at Lincoln and was the team’s quarterback last season, were taken into custody and hit with an array of charges as a result of the incident, according to NJ.com.
When Gordon was named as the Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week last October, he said that Butler was his uncle.
The 18-year-old Gordon recently committed to Fort Scott Community College in Kansas.
Police accused Butler of resisting arrest and attempting to grab the baton of a police officer and Gordon of hiding in an elevator and pushing police when they tried to apprehend him, the news story says.
According to police reports, both were charged with resisting arrest, aggravated assault on a police officer, disarming a law enforcement officer, failure to disperse, maintaining a nuisance, and disorderly conduct.
Butler’s attorney told the media that the incident was a misunderstanding and that they were there to celebrate graduation.
Talk about setting a positive example for family members – an uncle and nephew getting arrested together. And Butler is someone that the Lincoln football family has placed on a pedestal as a positive role model, even serving as a volunteer assistant coach last season.
Here are some of the highlights that were overlooked at the recent Hudson County Track Coaches Association indoor championships at the 168th Street New York Armory. Hudson Catholic won the boys’ team title for the first time since 2006. As reported in Scoreboard, St. Dominic Academy won the girls’ team title for the third straight time and the 11th time in the last 13 years.
Outside of the accomplishments of SDA champions Gray and Bertholon, the girls’ meet saw Jeffania Cherry of Ferris repeat as the 400-meter dash champion. Sabrina Ozoria of Union City won the 55-meter dash and Njoki Jones of Snyder won the 800-meter run…
On the boys’ side, Hudson Catholic crowned two individual champions in Tomatse Ogedegebe, who won both the high jump and the long jump, and Royaal Jones, who won the 55-meter dash.
The last two Hudson Reporter Athletes of the Week won HCTCA gold medals, with last week’s honoree Rafael Hernandez of Memorial winning the 800-meter run and this week’s feature Haig Rickerby taking the 400-meter gold.
Brandon Parrado of St. Peter’s Prep won two events, both the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs, an impressive feat in a highly competitive field. And Futon Fuller of St. Anthony won the shot put, becoming the first-ever HCTCA champion from St. Anthony. Congrats to all…
The Hudson County boys’ and girls’ basketball tournament championships will be played Saturday night at St. Peter’s University’s Yanitelli Center, with top-seeded Bayonne meeting second-seed Lincoln in the girls’ finale at 6 p.m. and four-time defending tourney champs Hudson Catholic looking to make it five straight against St. Peter’s Prep following at 8 p.m.
The Great Hagueini is going with the chalk and picking Bayonne and Hudson Catholic to win the county titles…
Hudson Reporter Boys’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. St. Anthony (24-0). 2. Hudson Catholic (20-3). 3. St. Peter’s Prep (14-8). 4. Union City (20-5). 5. Snyder (15-8).
Hudson Reporter Girls’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. Bayonne (19-2). 2. Lincoln (18-4). 3. Secaucus (19-6). 4. Marist (17-8). 5. North Bergen (15-6). – Jim Hague

Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.

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