BACK TO K-9 KIM’S CORNER

By Steve Kim Updated on June 23, 2022

The Bambitious Jesse Rodriguez

After facing the seasoned Carlos Cuadras on six days' notice to capture the WBC junior bantamweight title in February, Jesse 'Bam' Rodriguez now faces the highly accomplished Srisaket Sor Rungvisai this Saturday night in San Antonio, Texas, at the Tech Port Arena.

Prior to the contest with Cuadras, 'Bam' was essentially competing between 108 and 112. For the highly-touted southpaw, it was really about waiting for a title shot. But the call came less than a week before his undercard appearance on a card featuring the match-up between Cuadras and Sor Rungvisai, as the Thai fighter was pulled from the card due to an illness.

At this point, this show hung in the balance without their original main event in place at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

"Robert (Garcia) called my dad, he told him about the opportunity that presented itself," explained Rodriguez, who was offered to step into the featured slot opposite Cuadras. "That's when my dad called me and I said, 'Let's do it,' without hesitation because I was already on the card, originally. I already had a full camp.''

Ed Mulholland for Matchroom Sports

His bout with Fernando Diaz had a contracted weight of 110 pounds, so Rodriguez no longer had a weight cut to contend with. But he was facing a bigger man on (very) late notice. To put this into further perspective, his prior outing back in October, he came in a shade over 109.

Regardless, Rodriguez put forth an impressive effort as he defeated the former world champion via unanimous decision over 12 rounds, flooring Cuadras in round three in the process. The native of San Antonio showed off his wide array of skills, highlighted by sharp punches that were delivered with great torque and sharpness, and set up by deft pivoting and footwork. 

FIGHT HIGHLIGHTS | Carlos Cuadras vs. Jesse Rodriguez

 

"I felt good, I didn't have to lose that much weight," said the 22-year old Rodriguez, who became the youngest world champion in boxing that night. "It was more like a shot to me that I was fighting Cuadras because I watched him on TV, I watched his fights growing up as an amateur."

Rodriguez did admit, "(Cuadras) felt a little stronger because I had never fought at 115. So the punches were different."

Afterward, there was some thought in moving back down to his more natural weight class at 112. He may still do that in the near future, but this was an offer he couldn't refuse.

Ed Mulholland for Matchroom Sports

Rodriguez explained, "I wanted to defend my title at least one time, and why not do it against Rungvisai, the one I replaced. I believe he deserves a shot at the title. So that's why I'm facing him."

In Rungvisai, Rodriguez is facing one of the most decorated boxers from the lower-weight classes of this past generation. Not only is he a former world champion, but he has victories over the likes of Roman 'Chocolatito' Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada on his ledger. In 50 professional victories, he has scored 43 stoppages. There is certainly an element of great risk in this fight.

Which is refreshing, given that in an era where fighters are protected as if they were surrounded by the Secret Service, this is a boxer who is willing to roll the dice early. Yeah, perhaps his weight class has something to do with that, but many others in his position would be taking the path of least resistance in their first title defense.  

Should he get past Rungvisai, you'd be hard-pressed to find a boxer his age with back-to-back victories of this caliber.

Ed Mulholland for Matchroom Sports

As for what he expects in his homecoming this weekend, Rodriguez told SNAC.com, "The original Sor Rungvisai that you've always seen in the ring, come-forward, strong guy. We know what to expect. I don't think he has any other style than to come forward. So we've been working on how to fight against that."

Who knows what would be next? Eddie Hearn, the head of Matchroom Sports, has brought up the legendary Gonzalez. Which suits Rodriguez just fine.

"Of course, 'Chocolatito's a legend, he's even more of a legend that Rungvisai," he says. "So to be in there with a living legend like 'Chocolatito', that would be something special."

Now that's 'Bambition'.

 

DELUXE CARD

Yeah, I'll say it, this Saturday on DAZN is the best overall card from top-to-bottom that I've seen this year. No, it's not the most popular, or the one that will generate the most revenue. But as a hardcore enthusiast of the sport -- you can't beat this lineup of fights.

DAZN

You have the aforementioned main event featuring a sparkling young talent facing a former world-champion, who is still very dangerous. Ring Magazine still has Rungvisai rated number 1 in the division (the champion is Estrada), while Rodriguez is sixth.

I really like the bout between unified jr. featherweight champion, Murodjon Akhmadaliev (rated second by Ring) and former title challenger, Ronny Rios(who is ranked eighth). 

Then you have the rematch between WBC flyweight titlist, Julio Cesar Martinez (number two in the division according to Ring), and McWilliams Arroyo( who comes in at seven). These two battled back in December and their fight got off to a blazing start with each guy hitting the deck in the first, but unfortunately an accidental clash of heads left Arroyo unable to continue, so the bout was ruled a no-contest in round three. 

FIGHT HIGHLIGHTS | Julio Cesar Martinez vs. McWilliams Arroyo

It will be interesting to see how Martinez shakes off the effects of his conclusive 12 round loss to 'Chocolatito' in March as a junior bantamweight. 

Who knows how these fights will actually turn out, but those three bouts feature boxers that are all rated in the top 10 within their respective divisions.

(Editors note, Boxingscene.com has reported that Martinez has pulled out of this contest due to an illness. The WBC later confirmed this on their Twitter account.)

 

3KR

This week on 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' on Triller, Mario Lopez and I discuss Artur Beterbiev's KO victory over Joe Smith, and we preview this weekend's DAZN card in San Antonio:

Beterbiev KO's Joe Smith & Bam Vs Rungvisai Preview | 3 Knockdown Rule Ep. 36 | Triller TV

 


FINAL FLURRIES

Undisputed female welterweight champion, Jessica McCaskill, defends her crown against Alma Ibarra, on this card....PBC has formally announced that the crossroads heavyweight bout between Andy Ruiz and Luis Ortiz will take place on September 4(yes, a Sunday) at the Crypto.com Arena (formerly known as the Staples Center) in Los Angeles....Isaac Cruz will face Eduardo Ramirez on the undercard. This also features the return of Abner Mares, believe it or not....Robert Garcia, who's busy preparing Anthony Joshua for his rematch versus Oleksandr Usyk, will be in the corner of Rodriguez this Saturday evening....

About Author
The Bambitious Jesse Rodriguez
  • 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.