Jesse Rodriguez – ‘Bam’, Just Like That You’re World Champion
Jesse Rodriguez put on a stellar performance in his world class debut, dropping former champion Carlos Cuadras once en route to a UD to claim vacant WBC Super Fly title
Undefeated 22-year old Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez had previously fought at Light Flyweight and Flyweight. Last night in Phoenix, Arizona the prodigious southpaw elevated himself to WBC Super Flyweight champion after 12 rounds of a highly-skilled display of an array of the elements that make up the sweet science versus crafty veteran Carlos Cuadras.
Rodriguez (15-0, 10 KOs) only received the opportunity to fight for the vacant title because original opponent Srisaket Sor Rungvisai became ill after reaching the United States.
The young San Antonio, Texas native made it look like the surprising outcome was written. He brilliantly stepped around Cuadras (39-6-1, 27 KOs) and landed a right uppercut that dropped the former champion with over 2:00 remaining in Round 3.
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Cuadras didn’t willingly go away. The feisty 33-year old from Sinaloa, Mexico battled mightily in Rounds 5 and 7. His body attack remained constant, and he appeared to be threatening whenever Rodriguez lingered inside squared up for a brief periods.
While mixing in foot feints, level changes, an array of punishing punches and immediately getting his gloves back home Rodriguez pulled away in the bout’s scoring. Cuadras was stubbornly busy throughout the night, but new young champion’s accuracy with his power punches punctuated his control of the fight’s latter rounds.
The judges scores of 117-110 on two scorecards, and 115-112 on the third sealed the statement performance. Sadly for Rodriguez, amazing victories in boxing don’t seem to resonate widely throughout the fan base like breakout achievements in the other professional sports.
Most recently, ‘Mr. College Football’ Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals went toe-to-toe with former Super Bowl champion and NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas Chiefs. Burrow, a second year quarterback returning from an ACL injury, led his young team back from a 21-3 deficit at the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium to punch their ticket to the 56th Super Bowl next weekend.
Last season in the NBA young guards Devin Booker and “Ice” Trae Young led the Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks, respectively, to the Conference Finals in their divisions. Neither made the made the playoffs in the last several seasons. Booker and the Suns went up 2-0 in the Finals before the Milwaukee Bucks won four consecutive games to claim the O’Brien trophy.
In an individual sport, a pair of unseeded teenagers met up in the final of the 2021 U.S. Open in New York City. Emma Raducanu, a British 18-year old qualifier, won the first Grand Slam of her career by soundly defeating 19-year old Canadian Leylah Fernandez in two sets. To her credit Fernandez took down the No. 2-seed Aryna Sabalenka in the semifinals, and got the world’s attention with her Round 3 ouster of No. 3-seed Naomi Osaka – tennis’ former No. 1-ranked player and 2020 U.S. Open champion.
Now, we haven’t heard much from Raducanu and Fernandez since last summer but they had a very loud moment.
Will Rodriguez’s remarkable feat, which streamed live on the DAZN app, do much for a kid fighting in boxing’s lowest weight divisions. Interestingly, Rodriguez put on his masterful performance at the Footprint Center which serves as the home arena to the NBA-leading Suns (42-10). Why not throw a little W-L in there?
Fortunately, while Rodriguez isn’t likely going to command the attention of the sports world in the week leading up to Super Bowl, the new champion is setting his sights on reaching the highest levels of boxing stardom. After his sensational victory he referred to a highly recognizable former Pound-4-Pound champion as potential future opponent.
“I feel good at this weight so I will stay here for now but if I get a good fight at 108 pounds or 112 pounds, maybe I’ll get the winner of Chocolatito vs. Martinez, who knows – I’m just open to the best fights.”
In addition to Cuadras, the Super Flyweight division has risen into prominence with its recent conquerors that include the aforementioned Sor Rungvisai, as well as current unified champion Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzales.
Gonzales was scheduled for a trilogy bout against Estrada March 5 on DAZN, but COVID has claimed one of the most anticipated bouts of the first quarter of 2022. One-loss WBC Flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez now finds himself in a similar role as Rodriguez, and will move up a division to meet Chocolatito in San Diego, Calif. in less than a month.
The young southpaw also shared some comments that signal how well-grounded he is, and spoke to his high level of ring IQ he relied on for the fantastic win.
“That was a tough ass fight,” said Rodriguez. “He brought out a Jesse Rodriguez I didn’t know was in me, I’m so happy.
“I knew it was going to be a tough fight, he’s a true warrior, I thought I was going to get him out of there but he’s so strong.
“I stuck to the game plan, used my angles, but in the fifth round I knew he wasn’t going to go so I stayed composed and did my work.
A signature sneaker might not be in the works for Rodriguez. But for any avid fans of the sport, many of us eagerly await what Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing has in store for a tremendous and gutsy talent.
All photos by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing