What is an unusually busy and eventful boxing schedule for the month of December continues this weekend with a flyweight unification clash between Jesse 'Bam' Rodriguez (WBO) and Sunny Edwards (IBF) which takes place at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona on DAZN.
It's a premiere match-up pitting two of the divisions best, but with it featuring two smaller boxers this bout will be overlooked by the masses.
In Edwards you have the the number one ranked flyweight by Ring Magazine(whose title is vacant in this weight class) and Rodriguez (fourth) who is now a two-division champion. With other titlists in this division not being able to fulfill their duties, the likes of Eddie Hearns are angling for this to be for the prestigious Ring belt.
This is an interesting tactical battle given that Edwards is a slick boxer, while Rodriguez is a well-schooled technician in his own right, who is adept at giving angles and pivoting off his opponents moves. This fight is a tough call given their respective styles. Odds for this contest started out right about even.
The question is can Rodriguez regain the spark he had at the beginning of 2022 when he burst onto the scene as he dispatched Carlos Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. In his last two bouts he has looked rather flat. After winning the 115-pound WBC belt with those aforementioned bouts, he then defended versus Israel Gonzalez he scored an workmanlike 12 round decision. In his last outing back in April he decisioned Christian Hernandez for the vacant WBO junior flyweight title as he dropped down in weight.
But truth be told, some of the shine is off this star after his last two victories. A victory over the tricky Edwards, and the bandwagon will fill up again.
"I want to be remembered as a legend, as a fighter that never dodged a fight, I’m here for a good time, not a long time. I feel like I have what it takes to not only drop him but to finish the fight early," said Rodriguez (18-0, 11 KOs) who will definitely have an edge in power. Edwards (20-0, 4 KOs) is an elusive boxer, but light hitting.
The 23-year old native of San Antonio says the jaw injury he suffered in his last outing is no issue.
"My jaw feels good," he claimed. "It’s a little numb but the doctor said it would be like that for a while. I’m felt a little crack and then my ear started ringing so I knew something was up. I was able to bear it though and finish the fight. I didn’t enjoy the win. I went straight to the hospital and got surgery on the Monday, and then I was on the six-week diet, strictly pudding, smoothies, milkshakes, whatever I could eat without chewing was what I was on, but as long as I’ve got my coffee, I’m good."
But can he actually corner Edwards, who is as difficult as a wet noodle to get a grasp on? You can't hurt what you can't hit. Edwards, who hails from England, does not lack for confidence, which is why he was more than willing to make the trip over to the States for this bout.
Edwards stated, “I don’t have to overthink it; I know the best of me is capable of beating anyone at this weight and the weights above. After I beat Bam, I feel there’s a lot more still to come. That’s the first step, unified champion of the world, it sounds good. Bam has got quick hands, good feet, heavy hands as well. He’s a great fighter, but he’s not been in with me yet."
This fight is a tough one to call. Can Rodriguez be that guy we saw in the early part of '22, and does he have another great to catch and corner Edwards? My guess is that given this fight is taken place in America, that will be key in 'Bam' winning a hard fought decision.
Meanwhile at the Armory in Minneapolis, the swan song for the PBC on Showtime takes place before they got the streaming jungle of Amazon Prime in 2024.
David Morrell (9-0 8 KOs), who holds a version of the WBA super middleweight title, facing Sena Agbeko in the main event. The hard power-punching southpaw from Cuba is a talented and dangerous fighter. Which is precisely why the other marquee names in the division -- namely Canelo Alvarez and David Benavidez -- will stay far away from him. Given his lack of fights, and star power, he is much too much risk for the reward that comes along with facing him.
Also on this broadcast is a rematch between lightweights Chris Colbert and Jose Valenzuela. The two met back in March on the Benavidez-Caleb Plant pay-per-view undercard, with Colbert winning a highly disputed decision. Now, they mix again, and the animosity is high between the two parties.
The WBC flyweight belt-holder, Julio Cesar Martinez, was to defend versus Angelino Cordova before he ran into some visa issues that have scuttled this contest. This farewell telecast begins with a bout that belongs in the hot tube time machine, a rematch between Robert Guerrero and Andre Berto, who first met in 2012 with Guerrero coming out on top.
And with that, will end Showtime's 37 year run in the sport of boxing.
This week on 'the 3 Knockdown Rule', Tim Bradley of ESPN joined Mario Lopez and I to talk all things boxing:
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Mike Coppinger of ESPN is reporting that a deal is in place for long-time heavyweight rivals, Anthony Joshua, and Deontay Wilder, to finally square off on March 9. But they both have business to take care off next week in Saudi Arabia....So when is Jarron Ennis fighting again?....Seems to be some interesting stuff going on at the WBA convention....Murodjon Akhmadaliev is part of the DAZN broadcast from Arizona....Really enjoyed the '30 for 30' on ESPN on the 1997 Heisman Trophy race... I can be reached email@example.com....