Popular Chicago Boxer Francisco Rodriguez Dies From Brian Injury Suffered During a Bout Fought Friday Night In Philadelphia
(November 23, 2009)- Francisco “Paco” Rodriguez, one of Chicago’s most popular boxers, died Sunday night at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia after succumbing to a brain injury suffered during a bout fought Friday night. As he bravely fought his last battle, the twenty-five year-old father of a five-month-old girl was surrounded by loved ones including his wife, parents and brothers.
In Friday evening’s main event, Rodriguez (14-3-1, 8 KOs) faced Philadelphia native Teon Kennedy (14-0-1, 6 KOs) for the USBA super bantamweight title from the legendary boxing house, the Blue Horizon. After nearly being stopped in the first round, Paco came out strong in the second, attacking Kennedy to the body. The fighters continued to engage in a back-and-forth battle that had the knowledgeable Philly fight fans on their feet.
During the 10th round, after an offensive blitz from Kennedy, referee Benjy Esteves Jr. stepped in and stopped the bout. Kennedy won by TKO and had been ahead in a competitive fight by scores of 87-83, 86-83 and 86-84.
Upon returning to his corner, Paco said he felt “sleepy” and was immediately rushed to Hahnemann University Hospital where he underwent surgery to stop a brain bleed and swelling. He remained in a coma until he passed.
A decorated amateur champion, Paco was a five-time Chicago Golden Gloves Champion, a 2000 National Golden Gloves bronze medalist and, in 2001, at the age of just 17, a National Golden Gloves Champion.
In 2004, Paco defeated (the same) Teon Kennedy at the Eastern Trials by a score of 24-19 to earn his berth as one of eight American flyweights (112 pounds) competing in the US Olympic Trials.
He turned professional in January of 2005 and quickly became a Chicago fight fan favorite. Nicknamed “El Niño Azteca,” Paco was known for his exciting style, mixing superior boxing skills with a “Mexican warrior” attitude and an unforgettable ring walk.
The Rodriguez family is loved and respected by Chicago’s tight knit boxing community. Evaristo Rodriguez Senior, father to three sons, is a native of Guadalajara who boxed professionally in both Mexico and the US. His middle son, Evaristo Junior, was a 1999 National Golden Gloves Champion who won numerous Chicago Golden Gloves titles. Many local fans fondly remember Junior’s Chicago tournament bouts as legendary.
Paco was Evaristo’s youngest son. Trained by his father and Junior, Alex, the oldest brother, was Paco’s manager. As was the case during every bout of Paco’s life, Evaristo Senior and Junior were working Paco’s corner.
Paco was a devoted husband, father, brother and son. A fund is being arranged to assist his family with their medical and funeral expenses. Remaining funds will be put in trust for his daughter.
Details regarding the Francisco Rodriguez Fund as well as wake and funeral services will be announced as soon as possible. In the mean time, the family is preparing to bring Paco home to Chicago.
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