By Steve Kim Updated on July 01, 2024


Picture for BAM!! Ed Mulholland/ESPN 

It's been said often that the trio of Terence Crawford, Naoya Inoue, and Oleksandr Usyk have separated themselves from the rest of the pack in boxing. When it comes to the mythical pound-for-pound list, it's usually these three, and then everybody else. Well, after this weekend, they may have to make room for Jesse 'Bam' Rodriguez.

Rodriguez (20-0, 13 KOs) added another notable scalp to his collection at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, as he dispatched the highly accomplished Juan Francisco Estrada in seven rounds. The final blow was a well executed left hand to the body that had 'el Gallo' writhing in pain on the canvas at the end of the seventh.

Picture for BAM!!Matchroom Boxing

Don't let the scorecards (and more on that later) fool you, Rodriguez was in control from the very beginning of this contest. He was quicker off the trigger, utilizing deft footwork to set up sharp salvos, and was more than willing to stick inside the pocket and exchange with Estrada.

Fight Highlights | Juan Estrada vs Jesse 'Bam' Rodriguez


Not that he came away unscathed. A right hand dumped Rodriguez on his backside in the sixth. This was after Estrada was on the canvas in the fourth. After dusting himself off, Rodriguez proceeded to battle back and served notice that it was only a momentary lapse in concentration, not a shift in momentum.

Since the beginning of 2022, Rodriguez has victories over Carlos Cuadras (W12), Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (KO8), Sunny Edwards (KO9), and now Estrada. Yeah, you can nit-pick his resume by stating that he has faced some aged veterans. But at the same time, he isn't just eking past these guys, but shoving them off the cliff with authority. How you win matters.

Picture for BAM!!Matchroom Boxing

All this at the ripe young age of 24.

In an era of boxers who do their most impressive work on social media, and come off as perennial malcontents, Rodriguez just consistently puts in good work. In what is a mark of the respect he's earned, Rodriguez was asked at the post-fight presser about a potential bout with Inoue. But at the moment that isn't really plausible given that 'Bam' just  got back to 115, and 'the Monster' is at 122, and will soon be headed to featherweight. 

It says here that the guy who might be the most realistic -- and toughest -- match-up for Rodriguez is the long and angular, Junto Nakatani, who is a two-division champion. The Japanese southpaw is currently the WBC bantamweight champion.  Keep in mind, Estrada holds a rematch clause. So Rodriguez may have to run this back before making any other plans. 

Picture for BAM!!Matchroom Boxing

Several years ago while I was at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Riverside, I asked the noted trainer who was his best young boxer. His answer was Rodriguez. For a spell, he tried to sign him to a major promoter, even getting him inside the Top Rank 'bubble', but they passed on signing him. Eventually they got a deal with Matchroom Boxing, who now has an elite prizefighter on their hands.

The public is just figuring out what Garcia knew all along. 



Judge Javier Camacho from Mexico somehow had Estrada up by the score of 57-56 at the time of the stoppage. Camacho actually gave the first three frames to Estrada. While Robert Tapper had it knotted up at 56-56 after six rounds. Steve Morrow was more in line with the consensus of the public, as he had 'Bam' up 58-54.

Picture for BAM!! Matchroom Boxing

Yeah, it's mystifying how one judge had Estrada up, and the other had it deadlocked. While this was an entertaining fight, it was clearly controlled by Rodriguez.

But keep this in mind: fighters fight for today, judges judge for tomorrow.



Meanwhile in Miami, junior welterweight champion, Teofimo Lopez (21-1, 13 KOs), put forth a workmanlike effort in defeating the pesky, Steve Claggett (38-8-2, 26 KOs) over 12 rounds. While he pitched a virtual shutout, you can't really say that Lopez put forth an outing that had you contemplating his place on the pound-for-pound list.

There is no doubting his past accomplishments. He has victories over Vasiliy Lomachenko (for the somewhat undisputed lightweight crown) and then Josh Taylor (for the Ring Magazine belt). But he also has a loss to George Kambosos (which many seem to conveniently forget) and he's had just as many mediocre performances as spectacular ones.

Picture for BAM!!Mikey Williams/Top Rank

The effort versus Claggett is probably somewhere in-between. But the mark of being a truly elite boxer is to consistently be at a level where you out-class the good ones. You could argue he did that versus Claggett, but did you really come away thinking that Lopez was one of the best in the game based on that performance?



Robeisy Ramirez stopped Brandon Benitez in the seventh round with a monster uppercut on the Lopez-Claggett undercard...Earlier on that show, Elvis Rodriguez had some rough early moments to overcome the game Jino Rodrigo...How many times is Ryan Garcia going to change his story?....Lamont Roach was very impressive in defending his WBA 130-pound title. He stopped Feargal McCrory in eight rounds on Friday night in Washington DC ...I can be reached at


About Author
  • 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
  • Was a boxing reporter for 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.