On The Beak – Admin
Teon Kennedy (17-1-2, 7ko) of Philadelphia, who challenges undefeated WBA bantamweight titlist Guillermo Rigondeaux (9-0-0, 7ko), of Cuba, on Saturday, June 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada as part of the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley championship card, has had to overcome two fairly recent family life-shattering incidents that would have broken less-resolute fighters.
Late in 2009, Kennedy knocked out Francisco Rodriguez in the tenth round of their scheduled 12-round contest for the vacant USBA super bantamweight title. Kennedy’s elation at winning was short-circuited when Rodriguez collapsed in his corner, was rushed to the hospital and died of a brain injury two days later.
No one prepares a fighter for when the most tragic possible ending occurs in a fight: “When it first happened it was difficult, but as anyone in boxing knows that could happen,” said Kennedy, who was 13-0-1 and 23-years-old at the time. “It could happen to me. Sometimes I do still think about it, but I try not to dwell on it.”
Kennedy did not fight for six months, but he had the encouragement of his team as well as that of the Rodriguez family to get back into the ring.
He came back with three good wins, including a scintillating performance, a 12-round unanimous decision over then-undefeated prospect Julio Diaz, of New Brunswick.
The second life-altering incident occurred in mid 2011.
Kennedy was charged with a felony stemming from a shooting in Philadelphia. Those charges were later dropped, but it played on Kennedy’s mind as he prepared for a fight last August that, had he won, could have led to a match with undefeated Yuriorkis Gamboa of Cuba, in a world featherweight title fight.
He went through with the fight last August and lost his first bout as a pro, a 12-round decision to Alejandro Lopez, of Mexico, in a lacklustre performance: “The legal issues were definitely in my head,” Kennedy said.
“It’s hard to be falsely accused of something I did not do. That was probably the main reason I didn’t feel like myself.”
He put his first setback and his legal charges behind him and he got back in the gym quickly. Boxing experts weren’t sure if he’d rebound, but he turned in a strong performance in his most recent fight, a draw against the once-beaten Chris Martin, of Chula Vista, in January in Las Vegas. Many observers felt Kennedy, the aggressor for most of the fight, deserved the win.
Kennedy feels that he has come to grips with the arduous road he has had to travel the last several years.
“Everything bad is in the past now,” said Kennedy, who is looking to pull off the upset against the favored Rigondeaux. “I’m just focused on the fight. I’m still going to be aggressive.”