BACK TO K-9 KIM’S CORNER

By Steve Kim Updated on June 27, 2022

BAM!!!

At age 22, and just 16 bouts under his belt, Jesse 'Bam' Rodriguez has established himself as one of the best boxers in the world. This was reaffirmed as he dismantled Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in eight rounds to retain his WBC 115-pound title. 

Yeah, perhaps I am being a prisoner of the moment. 

Well, in that case, lock me up and throw away the keys. I think this guy is the goods.

Just think about it, back in February he stepped in on six days notice and conclusively defeated the respected Carlos Cuadras to become the youngest world champion in boxing. Then in his very first title defense faced the tough Thai, and stopped him in dominant fashion. Name me another fighter at his age with consecutive victories of this caliber.

Ed Mulholland for Matchroom Sports

Rodriguez is a sharp southpaw with a wide array of skills. This was on display versus the methodical Sor Rungvisai (who has two wins over Roman 'Chocolatito' Gonzalez, and split a pair of bouts versus Juan Francisco Estrada), as he first out-boxed him in the early rounds, using his educated right jab to set the table. 

Then he layered his attack with straight lefts and check hooks, as he seamlessly pivoted around Sor Rungvisai to create punching angles for himself. The former champion did land some leather in the early stages but over the course of the fight he was consistently beaten to the punch. At times Rodriguez would dart in and out, then he would turn his foe into punches he never saw coming as he stepped around him. 

After taking the best Sor Rungvisai had to offer, Rodriguez started to plant his feet a bit more and stick inside the pocket.

“After like the third round I felt like his power wasn’t the same,” Rodriguez said. “Maybe felt like I broke him down a bit, but like I said, after the third round I didn’t feel like his power was the same. He was still strong but not like the first two rounds. We came out here and put on a show.”

Ed Mulholland for Matchroom

In the seventh round he scored a knockdown of Sor Rungvisai. It was clear that he had begun to beat the fight out of him. He got him drunk, now he'd mug him. 'Bam' wasn't just content to coast to a victory but to put an exclamation point on what had already been an outstanding performance.

Rodriguez battered the fading Sor Rungvisai in the following round, and hit him with a barrage of leather that had him slumped along the ropes that eventually hastened referee, Mark Calo oy,  to call things off at 1:50 of the eighth.

Ed Mulholland for Matchroom Sports

“San Antonio, you got a superstar on your hands,” stated an effusive Eddie Hearn, the head of Matchroom Sports, which staged this event in Rodriguez's hometown at the Tech Port Arena. You get the sense that moving forward, that this young man will be playing to bigger crowds in larger venues in the Lone Star State. 

Rodriguez has stated that the two fighters he was most influenced by were Nonito Donaire and Vasiliy Lomachenko(and you can certainly see the Lomachenko influence with the way he gives more angles than a geometry class inside the ring), but as I watch him work I'm reminded of Hall-of-Famer, Mark 'Too Sharp' Johnson with the way he can both box and bang -- and do it with a certain type of flair and precision. 

I can pay no higher compliment than that.

“My skills proved a point tonight,” Rodriguez said. “I told everybody I was trying to be a special fighter and I proved that tonight. We know what I’m capable of and that’s why we took this fight in the first place. We knew what I brought to the table and tonight I showed that.”

Ed Mulholland for Matchroom Sports

In 2022, he has toppled two of the four 'Super Fly' kings in Cuadras and Sor Rungvisai. Gonzalez and Estrada may or may not face each other in a few months (more on that later) but for the time being it looks like Rodriguez could be going back down to his more natural flyweight class to pick up a belt or two, and let his brother do some of the heavy lifting at 115.

Trainer/manager, Robert Garcia told SNAC.com on Sunday morning that he is pressing for Rodriguez to fight two more times to close out the year. “I’m down to do whatever Robert says,” stated Rodriguez. “Any champion at 112. Come and get it. I’m here. I’m here to stay. I’m a special fighter not an average fighter.”

Regardless of what he does next, he has become -- at least to hardcore enthusiasts of the sport -- must-see viewing. When he's on, those fans will make it a point to watch him ply his trade.  And he isn't just a boxer who earns the plaudits of the media and fans, but of his peers.

Boxing Stars React to Bam Rodriguez Stopping Rungvisai in 8 Rounds

His journey is just beginning, and the reality is that he has still yet to hit his physical apex. His best boxing is still very much out in front of him. There is a changing of the guard in the sport with a new generation of precocious and talented boxers who are now making their mark. 

"This is the youngest champ in boxing and he already might be a pound-for-pound great," said Hearn. "He's here for legacy; he's here to be remembered."

 

SEMI-MAIN

In the night's main supporting bout, WBA/IBF 122-pound champion, Murodjon Akhmadaliev, scored a 12th-round stoppage of Ronny Rios, in what was a strong all-around performance. 'MJ' had to overcome an injury to his left hand during this bout, and eventually he wore down Rios with a series of body shots.

FIGHT HIGHLIGHTS | Murodjon Akhmadaliev vs. Ronny Rios

There are two champions at junior featherweight, Akmadaliev, and WBC/WBO belt-holder, Stephen Fulton. There is plenty of chatter about these two meeting, and certainly Fulton is yearning for the opportunity to become an undisputed champion. He has made it clear that before he entertains a fight with bantamweight ruler, Naoya Inoue, he wants to consolidate this division.

Ed Mulholland for Matchroom Sports

Which is all well and good, but the question is: will the powers that be allow this to happen? The reality is that Akhmadaliev is aligned with Matchroom Sports and DAZN, while Fulton is promoted by PBC, and has become a staple on Showtime.

Can you really see these two sides compromising and making this fight?

 

DECISION TIME

So regarding Estrada, who is the WBC 'super champion' at 115 (yeah, I hate it, too), according to Eddie Hearn, the WBC has mandated that he face 'Chocolatito' for the third time. Last March, they engaged in their memorable rematch that saw Estrada win a very disputed decision.

However, the WBA has ordered Estrada to face Joshua Franco in his next bout. 

So that's where things stand. I was told by a source that Matchroom has a date set for Gonzalez, who defeated Julio Cesar Martinez back in March, for October on DAZN. 

 

FINAL FLURRIES

According to Salvador Rodriguez of ESPN the bout between the aforementioned Martinez and McWilliams Arroya, which had been scheduled for this Saturday before Martinez pulled out, could land on the Canelo-Golovkin III undercard on September 17....While some talk of 'Bam' facing Inoue in the future, it says here that it's really another Japanese fighter that will be his future rival, current WBO flyweight titlist, Junto Nakatani...There is no better fruit than summer watermelon....Can Mario Cristobal recruit, or what?....I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com....

About Author
BAM!!!
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for UCNlive.com.
  • Was a boxing reporter for ESPN.com from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.