Damn, Bam. Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez is seriously good.
The youngest world champion in boxing at age 22 dominated 35-year-old veteran former champion Srisikat Sor Rungvisai of Thailand (in front of his hometown fans in San Antonio. Rodriguez (16-0, 11 KOs) did something Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, and Carlos Cuadras couldn't do. He stopped Rungvisai in an eight-round route, serving notice to the rest of the super flyweight division he's coming for them all. The time of the stoppage was 1:50 of round eight to retain his WBC World Super Flyweight world title.
“What more can I say? My skills proved the point tonight,” said Rodriguez, who proved the confidence he expressed leading up to the fight wasn't misplaced.
“My whole team, the whole team at RGBA (Robert Garcia Boxing Academy), we know what I'm capable of. That's why we took the fight in the first place. We knew what I brought to the table and tonight showed it,” said Rodriguez.
Lessons Learned From Cuadras Fight
Rodriguez learned from his victory over Carlos Cuadras to stay on the move. His footwork and ability to punch from multiple angles follows the blueprint mastered by Vasiliy Lomachenko. Coupled with Rodriguez's hand speed, it made Rungvisai show his age, slowed down enough at 35 to give the 22-year-old Rodriguez the advantage.
Rodriguez tastes a little Rungvisai power early. He kept moving, using footwork and angles. Rodriguez landed a straight left and a check right hook at the end of the first round – a preview of what would come.
Trainer Robert Garcia warned Rodriguez after the fourth round not to trade with the veteran. Good advice, but Rodriguez was so easily beating Rungvisai to the punch and countering, he virtually disarmed the hardest puncher in the super flyweight division.
Rungvisai came at Rodriguez from predictable angles, and once Rodriguez unlocked this simple puzzle, he got down to work. After the right, Rodriguez said Rungvisai's body language betrayed him, and he knew he had him after the third round.
“After like the third round, I felt his power wasn't the same. Maybe I broke him down a bit. He was still strong, but not like the first two rounds,” said Rodriguez.
In the seventh round, Rodriguez landed a shot to the temple and scored a quick knockdown. Rungvisai survived the round, but the finish line was visible. When Rodriguez hurt Rungvisai a few minutes later in the eighth round, he let his hands fly. Referee Mark Cal-oy stepped in to save the veteran.
“Tonight, we put on a show. I started using my angles more after the fifth round. Robert kept reminding me to use my angles, and that's what I did,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez credited the valuable experience he gained taking the fight with Carlos Cuadras in March on just six days' notice for giving him the win. “I'm thankful for that Cuadras fight. It not only gave me experience, it put my name out there, it put me here in San Antonio in the main event.”
Hearn: ‘San Antonio, you've got a superstar on your hands'
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn can be forgiven for gushing over the super talented super flyweight. “San Antonio, you've got a superstar on your hands. These fighters come around once in a generation. He might already be a pound for pound great.” Hearn said he couldn't see Juan Francisco Estrada beating Rodriguez. “This kid can do anything he wants to do. It's a long, long career ahead.”
Rodriguez said he's down for whatever trainer Garcia asks of him, but intends to unify the flyweight division at 112 pounds before moving back up to 115 pounds, while his brother Joshua Franco gets a mandatory assignment against Roman Gonzalez. “Those fights belong to my brother.”
Not to worry, Rodriguez isn't going anywhere. “Bam Rodriguez is here to stay. I'm not an average fighter. I'm a great fighter.” When Rodriguez says it, he's so matter-of-fact about what's obvious to the eye, it's not overblown.
Rodriguez landed a mind-blowing 119 of 181 power punches – yes, that's 66%. Rungvisai landed 72 of 265 power punches (27%). Rodriguez also landed 114 of 250 jabs (46%) against just 12 of 174 for Rungvisai (7%).
MJ Akhmadaliev Overcomes Injury to Beat Ronny Rios
Murodjon “MJ” Akhmadaliev of Uzbekistan (11-0, 8 KOs) defended his WBA and IBF Super Bantamweight titles against a determined Ronny Rios of Santa Ana (33-4, 16 KOs). Akhmadaliev knew just how to place his shots to hurt Rios. Rios weathered a punishing body shot in the third round without going down. Rios began to loosen his hands, although still wary of taking another hard shot in the same spot. Akhmadaliev's corner encouraged him instead to follow the jab with the left uppercut, and it was there for him.
When it seemed Akhmadaliev would cruise to a win, he hurt his left hand. Akhmadaliev said after the fight, it happened in the second round, but he didn't visibly slow down until several rounds later. Rios and his team sensed something was wrong. Rios took more chances, gaining some ground and giving a good effort. Akhmadaeliev shifted his offense to the right hand and used his exceptional footwork to fend Rios off. Akhmadaliev poured it on in the final round, dropping Rios with the same body shot he landed earlier. Although Rios got to his feet, Akhmadaliev went for the stoppage, and he got it with 54 seconds left in the 12th round.
“I was using my front hand. It was very successful,” said Akhmadaliev. “In the 12th round, they (my corner) told me to stop him, so I let it go. Honestly, just because my corner told me, ‘go ahead, you can finish him, forget the pain, and we'll deal with it later.' I'd been enjoying the fight; everything was under control.”
Akhmadaliev landed 216 of 620 punches thrown (35%) and Rios 93 of 447 punches thrown (21%).
Jessica McCaskill Makes It Look Easy, Forces Alma Ibarra to Quit In Three Rounds
Jessica McCaskill of Chicago (12-2, 5 KOs) wasted no time going right at opponent Ana Ibarra of Monterrey, Mexico (10-2, 5 KOs) in defense of her undisputed, unified welterweight titles. McCaskill buzzed Ibarra within the first minute of round one, and she never let Ibarra gain ground or catch her breath.
McCaskill kept blasting away with power shots, both right and left hooks. A left hook to the body in the third round turned out to be the money punch. After the round, Ibarra told her corner she was done. “I just want to go back home,” Ibarra told her corner, and her team asked the fight be stopped. McCaskill approached Ibarra, urging her to continue, but referee Guadalupe Garcia waved off the fight 10 seconds into the fourth round.
“I thought it was going to be a crazy firefight, Mexican against Mexican, and put on a show for the fans,” said McCaskill. “I just knew my training was spectacular. We leveled up and leveled up again.” McCaskill said she intends to move back down to super-lightweight at 140 pounds, her natural weight division, to set up a long-in-the-making grudge match with Chantelle Cameron of Great Britain. “I think it's time to go back down to 140. Rick Ramos is going to hook that up,” said McCaskill. “Call me, girl.”
More Undercard Results: Ford, Ababiy, Martinez Win
Featherweight Raymond Ford of Camden, New Jersey (12-0-1, 6 KOs) was bumped up to the main card after Julio Cesar Martinez and McWilliams Arroyo dropped off. Ford put in a strong performance with a near shutout over local favorite Noe Larios Jr. (14-3, 6 KOs). Scorecards were 100-90 X 2 and 99-91. Ford never let Medina get close, making good use of his jab and speed. It would have been nice to see Ford try and close the show to please the fans, but it's an improvement after a split decision earlier in the year.
Nikita Ababiy of Brooklyn (12-0, 6 KOs) remained undefeated in his return to the ring after eight months out of the ring over Noe Larios Jr. (14-2, 6 KOs). Scores in the eight-round middleweight bout all read 78-74. Larios Jr. made Ababiy work for the win, gaining speed after a slow start.
Super bantamweight Jesus Martinez of Del Rio, Texas (2-0) survived a knockdown and serious challenge from Keven Monroy of Spring Valley, California. (1-3, 1 KO) to win a unanimous decision.