Shirley boxer Le'Shawn Rodriguez wants to put icing on solid amateur career

Le'Shawn Rodriguez, right, fights in an undated photo.

Le'Shawn Rodriguez, right, fights in an undated photo. (Credit: Theresa Farnsworth/USA Boxing)

Amateur middleweight boxer Le'Shawn Rodriguez has many lofty goals and has his eyes fixed on the same prize as every other aspiring fighter: to jump into the professional ranks.

But first things first.

The 20-year-old Shirley native must continue to take care of business on the amateur level before he can move forward.

So far so good.

Rodriguez was a 2012 national Golden Gloves finalist and this year won the national middleweight championship. Rodriguez capped his fine amateur year with a gold medal at the Olympic Cup tournament in Puerto Rico last week.

His recent accomplishments notwithstanding, Rodriguez said there is still much work to be done.

"I'd give myself an eight out of 10," Rodriguez said of his Olympic Cup tournament performance. "I know I wasn't perfect. There is always something to work on. "

Whether he performs up to his own high standards or not, Rodriguez said he has learned something new with each bout.

"Everybody has different styles," said Rodriguez, who fights out of Veterans Memorial Gym in Shirley. "Fighting these guys has taught me that I need to adjust better during fights."

Learning new styles should bode well for Rodriguez, who finished fifth at the 2012 Olympic trials and looks forward to participating in the 2016 Games.

"I want to make the 2016 Olympics before I do anything else," Rodriguez said. "After that, I will then turn pro."

Rodriguez's trainer Eddie Murphy is convinced that fighters with strong amateur backgrounds make good pros.

"I remember when he was first asking me about the sport," Murphy said. "Now he wants to be No. 1 in the world. He was made for this."

The next challenge for Rodriguez is a tournament in the Ukraine on July 5-14, hosted by heavyweight champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko.

"This is the type of tournament that can bring out the best in a fighter," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez isn't the only Long Island fighter who has been making waves in the ring.

Undefeated light heavyweight Sean Monaghan (18-0) of Long Beach, who just signed a promotional deal with Top Rank, as well as Freeport's Patrick Day (4-0), scheduled to fight June 29 at Resorts World Casino, are slowly climbing the ladder.

"I've trained with those guys," Rodriguez said. "They helped me get ready for the U.S. championships."

Rodriguez also counts Coram native Jamel Herring, a 2012 Olympian who also learned to fight at Veterans Memorial Gym, as a friend. Herring (3-0) is set to take on Calvin Smith in a 140-pound bout June 22 at Barclays Center.

Said Rodriguez: "Long Island boxing is really coming up. You'll see us everywhere soon."

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