Teon Kennedy vs. Francisco Rodriguez
2009-11-20 : Teon Kennedy 121 lbs beat Francisco Rodriguez 118½ lbs by TKO at 1:52 in round 10 of 12
- Location: Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
- Referee: Benjy Esteves Jr. 86-84 86-83 87-83
A thrilling bout for the vacant USBA Superbantamweight title at the Blue Horizon ended in tragedy, with Philadelphia's first boxing related death in 31 years. Former National Golden Gloves Champion Francisco Rodriguez began this bout by tagging Teon Kennedy with repeated jabs, and through Kennedy missed with counterpunches for most of the first round, a counter left hook staggered Rodriguez along the ropes off balance, who got an eight count while standing from the referee before the first round ended. This appeared to be an error as Rodriguez did not go down and his back was to the referee, however the referee made a safety judgement call which nobody contested. Kennedy won rounds two, three, five and six on points, at times fighting off the ropes. Rodriguez used consistent body punching to win round four. Both fighters went toe-to-toe at close quarters in round seven and eight, with Rodriguez landing earlier and more often to apparently win these rounds. Kennedy got a 'second wind' in round nine, landing frequent left-right combinations to win the round impressively despite a swollen right eye. In round ten, Kennedy landed a number of powerful left hand leads that left Rodriguez on questionable legs. Rodriguez was coming forward but slipped to the canvas and appeared tired. Kennedy continued to land the left on Rodriguez, who showed a great deal of heart and was still trying when the referee stopped the bout at 1:52 of the tenth. The bout had been scheduled for twelve.
Dr. Jonathan Levin, the ring doctor, checked in on Rodriguez a number of times during the bout in his corner as a safety precaution, with Rodriguez always responsive, answering all questions "and his eyes were reactive. He seemed okay." However, Rodriguez subsequently collapsed in his corner. He was immediately rushed to the hospital for emergency brain surgery. After two days in a coma, Rodriguez died. Known as 'El Nino Azteka', Rodriguez was a member of Chicago's Mexican community. According to George Hernandez in the Rodriguez corner at the end of the bout, the fighter didn't seem hurt at first. "I asked him if he was okay and he said that he felt sleepy. I asked if he felt sick and he said 'Yes, a little'. I started to scream for the doctor. His body went limp." The fighter's organs were donated to help save others.