By Jake Donovan
A new entry for Upset of the Year has emerged after Mario Rodriguez scored a 7th round stoppage of previously unbeaten Nkosinathi Joyi to win a strawweight title Saturday evening in Los Mochis, Mexico.
A strange feeling was in the air early in the fight when the much taller Joyi struggled to keep Rodriguez on the outside. Rodriguez played up to the hometown crowd throughout the bout, refusing to be intimidated by the fact that arguably the best strawweight on the planet was standing in front of him.
Joyi found his groove as the bout approached the middle rounds, but was by no means never truly in control of the action. The beanpole southpaw – massive for the 105 lb. division at 5’6” – enjoyed success with his jab and didn’t get hit cleanly very often.
Still, none of what he had to offer was enough to keep his opponent at bay. That was Joyi’s biggest mistake of the evening and it caught up to him in a big way.
Rodriguez began to bully his opponent as the fight approached the halfway point. Joyi never quite recovered, though also never seemed on the verge of being sent home early. All of that changed midway through the seventh, when Rodriguez connected with three straight power shots.
The final shot – an overhand right following consecutive left hooks – put Joyi down on the canvas after a slight delayed reaction. The referee offered a mandatory eight count, but didn’t like what he saw and waved off the action to prevent Joyi from taking further punishment.
The official time was 2:07 of round seven.
Rodriguez picks up by far the biggest win of his journeyman career. The diminutive Mexican improves to 15-6-4 (11KO), now in the midst of a career-best five-fight win streak and his first major title.
The visiting Joyi heads back to South Africa with the first loss of his pro career, as he falls to 22-1 (15KO). Saturday’s bout in Mexico was his first away from home. He entered the fight on the heels of an impressive showing in a March rematch with Katsunari Takayama and now leaves an ex-champ after a title reign of nearly 2½ years.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox