In another step towards a new chance at a world title in the junior middleweight division, Delvin Rodriguez is facing a tough challenge against former world title challenger Freddy Hernandez in the main event of "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2, 10 p.m. ET) on his home turf at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn.
Rodriguez (27-6-3, 15 KOs) comes off a dominant sixth-round knockout of George Tahdooahnippah in his first fight since a lopsided loss against former titlist Austin Trout. It was the second time Rodriguez was defeated in a world title fight after losing to Isaac Hlatshwayo in 2009 for a vacant welterweight title.
Now, focused on his future, Rodriguez believes that by defeating Hernandez in an impressive way, he will be in line for another title shot.
"This will not happen in my next fight, but it will put me in a position to be in line," said Rodriguez, who admits his dream is to face junior middleweight titlist Canelo Alvarez. "And early next year I'll be ready to fight for a title. If that doesn't happen, my plan is to fight at least four times a year.
"It will be an emotional fight [against Hernandez]," Rodriguez said. "I feel very well physically and mentally, and I feel positive that I will look good and I am going to defeat my opponent."
Rodriguez knows it won't be easy. Hernandez is a good fighter who has a lot of experience after having faced many high-profile opponents.
"I am taking him very seriously," Rodriguez said. "That's why I am well prepared and confident in my victory."
Hernandez (30– 4, 20 KOs), of Mexico, is coming off decision losses in his past two fights, against Demetrius Andrade and Erislandy Lara. He has won against the likes of Luis Collazo, Mike Anchondo, DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley, Jesus Soto Karass and Ben Tackie, but is best known for his knockout loss to former welterweight titlist Andre Berto.
As much as Rodriguez respects his opponent's experience, he was quick to remind about his own when it comes to fighting strong opposition.
"I believe that I also have a lot of experience," Rodriguez said. "My opponents have been good fighters, and I know I have the fight plan and the skills to beat [Hernandez] and other guys who are better than him. I have demonstrated this throughout my career."
Hernandez typically fights with a high work rate and doesn't shy away from exchanges. He has moments when he overwhelms his opponents with aggression, and at the same time he can assimilate punches very well. Those factors could set up a battle similar to the one Rodriguez had with Pawel Wolak in their July 2011 fight of the year candidate.
"When it comes to pressure, it's true that this could be a similar war, because I'm not thinking about going backwards," Rodriguez said. "I'll be the one applying the pressure and the aggression."
When proposed with a possible change of plans in favor of a more elusive brand of boxing -- with more movement and punches in flurries, similar to the style used by Lara against Hernandez -- Rodriguez discarded that option because his own style is so different.
"For now, the idea isn't to use a strategy of movement, but rather the plan will be to land combinations of two or three punches and apply a lot of pressure," Rodriguez said. "Nevertheless, a great fighter is the one who knows how to adapt to the moment of the battle whenever necessary."
In the co-main event, a pair of junior welterweights square off in a 10-round fight when unbeaten Issouf Kinda (16-0, 6 KOs) faces Chris Howard (15-2-1, 7 KOs). If he wins convincingly, Kinda, who was born in Burkina Faso and now lives in New York, may be considered as a future title challenger. He is fresh off a knockout victory against Javier Loya and holds a victory over Mike Arnaoutis.