New Jersey’s Julian Rodriguez returns to The Bubble this Saturday night, on a great stage, to remind the world of ‘Hammer Hands’ as a player in a crowded field at Super Lightweight
LAS VEGAS (October 28, 2020) — In just a few days boxing fans can check out Top Rank’s arrival of ‘The Monster’, Bantamweight unified champion Naoya Inoue, live from The Bubble on ESPN+. On the undercard, undefeated Super Lightweight Julian “Hammer Hands” Rodriguez takes on the monster assignment of raising his profile in one of boxing’s most talent-laden divisions. Rodriguez (20-0, 13 KOs) faces veteran Jose Eduardo Lopez Rodriguez (29-7-2, 15 KOs) in one of the evening’s preliminary bouts.
What’s Happened at Super Lightweight Lately?
Back on October 3, Super Lightweight contender Jose Zepeda stopped Ivan Baranchyk in the “fill-in-the-blank of The Year” frontrunner in an ESPN+ main event. Both men visited the canvas four times before Zepeda flanked Baranchyk and blasted him with a left hand that left the former champion motionless on the canvas for several minutes. Baranchyk dropped Zepeda twice in the first round before the epic comeback reached its conclusion in Round 5.
Regarding the 140-pound championship picture, unified champion Jose Ramirez unexpectedly overcame the effects of a year-long training camp to win a hard-fought majority decision despite a dogged effort from former champion Viktor Postol. The win booked Ramirez’ spot in a 2021 undisputed title fight with the division’s other unified champion Josh Taylor.
Speaking of undisputed, many would say a subsequent Ramirez/Taylor winner versus the newly crowned Lightweight undisputed champion Teofimo Lopez bout would be ill-advised. But, after what boxing’s achieved amid the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, hard to say what’s off the table once, and if, normalcy returns next year. If both Top Rank and Team Lopez aren’t that audacious – pitting the 140-pound undisputed versus the 135-pound undisputed – Lopez could possibly need a credible opponent for his Super Lightweight debut. At this moment, it’s not likely Rodriguez would be tabbed for that task.
Rodriguez’ Focus in the Shadow of ‘The Monster’
Come Saturday the night undoubtedly belongs to undefeated WBA/IBF Bantamweight Inoue, and challenger Jason Moloney’s bid to rival Lopez’ upset defeat of unified Lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko back on October 17. And, 2016 USA Olympian Mikaela Mayer receives her first crack at a title against WBO Super Featherweight champion Ewa Brodnicka. All 26-year old Rodriguez has to do is take advantage of all the eyes expected to be tuned in when he faces his 29-year old opponent from Mexico.
Rodriguez stopped Anthony Laureano, for his first loss, in his first appearance in The Bubble on August 22. Mexico’s Rodriguez is coming off a loss in Montreal in May 2019. The loss stopped a three-fight win streak for Rodriguez, and he’ll need to overcome ring rust and the acclimating to the crowd-less environment quickly. Expect Rodriguez, a native of Hoboken, New Jersey, to attack in mistake-free fashion, break down his opponent, and create an opportunity to stop him. A dominant performance capped off by a climatic ending further builds on his ongoing 4-0 run since his return from a nearly two-year hiatus.
The entire Inoue-Moloney card will stream live on ESPN+ starting at 7:30 p.m. ET, with the co-feature bout Brodnicka-Mayer expected to start at approximately 10 p.m. ET. Other attractions include Brazil’s 2016 Olympic gold medalist Robson Conceição in his biggest test to-date, exciting 20-year old Heavyweight sensation Jared Anderson, and fast-rising Light Flyweight Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez.
A win doesn’t propel Rodriguez into the division’s group of hungry contenders, but it definitely keeps him on their heels, and in the mix among an exciting wave of prospects.
All photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank