Is “Bam” Rodriguez A Young All-Time Great?… and Weekend Thoughts
The modern boy wonder, and I am not talking about Robin, Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, has vaulted into the position of becoming the fighter of the year, depending on how things play out, as well as a modern legend in the sport, after his most recent highlight-reel technical knockout win on Saturday.
In front of a hometown card in San Antonio, Texas, Rodriguez seemingly retired Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, a former world champion with two wins over future hall-of-famers Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, and a lone win over Juan Francisco Estrada, but has found himself off-tv since losing to Estrada years back.
Rungvisai was part of the death nail that moved HBO out of the boxing business, as he doesn’t speak English, and beat two celebrated stars in Gonzalez and Estrada, with seemingly no North American or European appeal in terms of the live gate, something the network was looking for – a draw, either live or on television. Rungvisai in the Western world sadly was neither.
Rodriguez, who was a teenager, when Tom Loeffler’s “super-fly” boxing series happened, and watched many of these battles including ones with Rungvisai live, had a star-making performance stopping the celebrated champion in the eighth round of a scheduled twelve-round fight as Rodriguez was making his first world title defense of his WBC super flyweight title, he had one in his previous fight.
We saw the talent of Rodriguez against Carlos Cuadras, a faded formidable champion best known for giving Chocolatito Gonzalez a tough fight, but in overpowering, a strong puncher in Rungvisai showed that Rodriguez, might just have all-time great potential, not to mention, that Rodriguez is a tank of a man at the lower weights, as I think we could see him becoming a five-to-six division world champion if everything works out. In short, not unlike other greats of the lower weights, “Bam” is capable of being a legend, now he just needs to continue adding to his legacy.
The bout wasn’t close, it was a destruction. The end came with Rungvisai getting stopped on the ropes, and an ordinarily silent and reserved Rodriguez dropping to his knees emotionally after the fight. This fight meant something to Rodriguez, an era of fighters valuing the money over the glory, Rodriguez’s sheer joy was a welcomed change to see someone chasing greatness.
After the fight, fans wanted Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez vs. “Bam” Rodriguez, but the two share a promoter, Teiken, and Chocolatito has been like a mentor to Rodriguez, making the bout unlikely.
Rodriguez’s brother, Joshua Franco, will face Juan Francisco Estrada, in a bout, everyone should watch, and a tidbit people should know.
“Bam” Rodriguez has a serious chance to be the boxer of the year in 2022, and Matchroom has done a tremendous job with matchmaking to build him into this entity right now.
Yet again, Julio Cesar Martinez had to withdraw as his bout against McWilliams Arroyo was postponed due to Martinez contracting an illness. The two have been scheduled to fight four times, as the only time they did fight ended in a no-contest in which the two dropped each other, and a head clash stopped the fight. The other three times, Martinez has withdrawn from the bout.
Murodjon Akhamadaliev stopped Ronny Rios in the 12th and final round of their world title bout, to defend his WBA and IBF 122 lbs titles. Not unlike his stablemate, Dmitry Bivol, Akhamadaliev, nicknamed M.J., has found himself without a platform to fight often on DAZN, as the pandemic saw an exciting young fighter, inactive. Now, it is a waiting game.
The world wants yet another undisputed bout as Akhamadliev holds two belts, and Stephen Fulton holds the other two. The only thing in the way is Marlon Tapales, who is now the IBF’s mandatory title defense for Akhamadliev. Hopefully, we can get the undisputed bout between Fulton vs. Akhamadliev.
Jessica McCaskill stopped Alma Ibarra, and potentially retired her. McCaskill is a will fighter, who broke the will of Ibarra, who confessed in the corner she wanted to go back to her child, and not get hit as hard as she was in this fight. McCaskill called out Chantelle Cameron after the fight.
Raymond Ford looked as good as ever beating undefeated Richard Medina in the DAZN opener. Ford stayed off the ropes in this fight which has been his issue.
Middleweight Nakita Ababiy got a win on the YouTube portion of the card, but his development with Matchroom has been frustrating. Ababiy is not standing out or moving up the depths of the card as of right now. I see the talent, but the fans want more.
Jesus Martinez survived a knockdown to win a four-rounder to start the card.
Jonathan “Bomba” Gonzalez survived an early-round deficit to defeat Mark Anthony Barriga, to make the first defense of his WBO 108 lbs title. Gonzalez is the lone Puerto Rican world champion, and it would be nice to see him featured on ProBox cards moving forward.
The best American cruiserweight since Evander Holyfield, Najee Lopez, got a third-round TKO over Jeysson Monroy. I wrote about Puerto Rican boxers to follow, and include him on this list for NYFights.com.
Najee Lopez’s brother, Hakim Lopez, soundly outpointed Cruse Stewart, a solid regional talent from the Minnesota area.
Super flyweight Trinidad Vargas also got a first-round stoppage.
Budler Continues Legacy
One of the best lower-weight fighters in the history of the sport, Hekkie Budler defeated Elwin Soto in Mexico, on a card televised on ESPN+. Soto is now on a two-fight losing streak as Jonathan Gonzalez beat him for his world title in a sleepy bout in Fresno, Ca.
The drama came from an over-aggressive Soto getting dropped in the 12th round. This led to a narrow points margin win for Budler rather than a draw. Budler vs. Gonzalez would be fun.
Weighing in at an astounding 341 lbs., Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller coming off a four-year, and a PED suspension got a decision win on a WBA card. It was an up-and-down performance as Miller started very slow, and picked up steam late.
In Canada, Erik Bazinyan got a super middleweight win over Marcelo Esteban Coceres, a guy who fought Edgar Berlanga, but the only thing he did better than Berlanga was not get dropped, as Bazinyan did not separate himself from his peer despite winning wide on the cards.
In a major upset, Artem Oganesyan lost to an eight-loss journeyman Dante Jardon via a ten-round decision, Mary Spencer enacted the three-knockdown rule against former world champion Chris Namus in the first round. For those unaware, it was a Claressa Shields win over Spencer on the national stage, that started a lot of excitement around Shields before her Olympic Gold Medals. Rounding out this card, Yves Ulysse Jr got a third-round KO, and Steven Butler got a ten-round decision.
The northeastern prospect Francis Hogan got a six-round decision improving his undefeated record to 11-0. Hogan is a draw on the east coast.
Cruiserweight Michal Cieslak stopped Enrico Koelling in one round. Five years ago, Cieslak went all the way into the 12th round with Artur Beterbiev before getting stopped by the generational great light heavyweight Beterbiev.
MMA in 500 Words or Less
Lightweight Mateusz Gamrot got a five-round decision over Arman Tsarukyan in a close fight. Welterweight Shavkat Rakhmonov submitted Neil Magny in the second round as well.