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Delvin Rodriguez needs win on FNF

Delvin Rodriguez is 1-3 in his last four fights, but perhaps big changes will shake up his recent luck. Emily Harney/Fightwireimages.com

If you watch "Friday Night Fights" regularly, you know Delvin Rodriguez. He has been a staple of the series for years. He has won and lost some, but he almost always has been in entertaining fights.

Never has he needed a victory more than he needs one on this week's edition (ESPN2/ESPN3, 9 p.m. ET), when the longtime welterweight moves up to junior middleweight to face top-10 contender Pawel Wolak at the Roseland Ballroom in New York. On paper, it looks like a can't-miss action fight.

Rodriguez has provided many of them, but he has also lost three of his last four fights, including a shot at a vacant welterweight belt, and is coming off a year of inactivity during which he contemplated retirement.

Although South Africa's Isaac Hlatshwayo came to Rodriguez's turf at the Mohegan Sun resort in Uncasville, Conn. -- he is from Danbury, Conn. -- Rodriguez lost a split decision in August 2009 for a vacant 147-pound belt.

Then Rodriguez (25-5-2, 14 KOs) went on to lose his next fight, to Rafal Jackiewicz in a title eliminator. It was a close fight in Jackiewicz's home country of Poland, and Rodriguez lost a tight decision. Rodriguez bounced back with a lopsided decision against a faded Mike Arnaoutis before losing a majority decision to Ashley Theophane last July.

Now Rodriguez will face Wolak (29-1, 19 KOs) in what probably will be a very tough fight. Wolak, 29, is two years younger and is a bigger man who is coming off a career-best victory. He made former 154-pound titlist Yuri Foreman quit after six rounds March 12 on the Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga undercard and is beginning to come into his own.

"This is my opportunity to erase everything bad that has happened the past few years and put myself right back into the spotlight," Rodriguez said. "I can't change what happened in the past. That's something that I don't have any control over and, honestly, I'm tired of talking about it. What I do have control over, though, is the fight on [Friday].

"A win against Pawel, who is coming off the biggest win of his career and is rated in all of the four sanctioning bodies, puts me right back into the mix -- and there is no way that I am letting that opportunity pass me by."

Additionally, Rodriguez is going into the fight with a new trainer.

He parted ways with longtime cornerman Lou Fusco and hired Fernely Feliz, who was a journeyman heavyweight (who was once knocked out by John Ruiz and lost a decision to Oleg Maskaev) during his career from 1993 to 2008. Rodriguez also hired strength and conditioning coach Matt Petren to supervise his move up in weight.

"I was very close with Lou, so it was a very hard decision for me to bring in Fernely, but Lou was great about everything and there were no hard feelings," Rodriguez said. "I just needed a change. Fernely and I have known each other for a while, and we hit it off right away.

"This has been one of the best training camps I have ever had. I'm bigger, stronger and faster than I ever have been before. Not only will Pawel find that out, but everyone in the junior middleweight division will find out that I am here and I'm coming for those belts."

It's probably now or never.