A familiar supporting cast will grace Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez’s next hometown headliner.
The undercard has been finalized for the April 8 DAZN show from Tech Port Arena in San Antonio, Texas. As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, San Antonio’s own Rodriguez will face Mexico’s Cristian Gonzalez for the vacant WBO flyweight title.
A second title fight will land on the show, as unified WBA/IBF junior bantamweight titlist Murodjon Akhmadaliev will face IBF mandatory challenger Marlon Tapales in the chief support. Akhmadaliev appeared on the undercard of the June 25 show headlined by Rodriguez at this very arena, as did unbeaten featherweight Raymond Ford who will face former WBO junior featherweight titlist Jessie Magdaleno in a ten-round featherweight contest.
Rounding out the four-fight DAZN telecast, Cleveland’s Thomas Mattice collides with unbeaten Mexican prospect Ramiro Cesena in a ten-round junior lightweight bout.
Rodriguez, Akhmadaliev and Ford all posted wins on the June 25 card. Rodriguez made the first defense of his WBC junior bantamweight title with an eighth-round stoppage of former two-time champ Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
Akhmadaliev (11-0, 8KOs) has not fought since that show, when he stopped Ronny Rios in the 12th and final round of their unified title fight. The 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist from Chust, Uzbekistan suffered a hand injury during the WBA mandatory title defense, which left him on the shelf for the rest of the year.
It also forced another mandatory, this one with the IBF as Philippines’ Tapales (36-3, 19KOs) has waited more than a year for his bid to become a two-division titleholder. The former WBO bantamweight beltholder emerged as the IBF’s number-one contender with a second-round knockout of Hiroaki Teshgawara in their December 2021 title eliminator.
The 30-year-old Filipino southpaw has fought just once since then, a second-round knockout of Jose Estrella last May 14 in Carson, California. Tapales has won three straight, all in the second round.
“I am very excited again for this opportunity to fight for not one but two World titles,” said Tapales. “This is my dream to become World Champion again. I would like to thank my Team at Sanman Boxing, Knucklehead Boxing, Shapiro Sports, Viva Promotions and TGB Promotions for getting me this opportunity. I will bring pride and glory to the Philippines when I win both the IBF and WBA belts.”
Akhmadaliev will attempt his fourth title defense. His three-year reign has been slowed by injuries and illness but he vows to be at full strength for his upcoming challenge.
“I'm happy to be back in the ring,” said Akhmadaliev. “It's been a while, but finally we're here for an exciting match against a great fighter in Tapales. He's a former champion, we have similar styles, so I am preparing for tough action-packed fight on April 8."
Ford (13-0-1, 9KOs) soundly outclassed unbeaten Richard Medina over ten rounds on the Rodriguez-Sor Rungvisai undercard, one of three wins on the year for the 23-year-old southpaw from Camden, New Jersey.
The year ended with a stylish eighth-round knockout of Sakaria Lukas on a November 12 DAZN show from Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. The same show saw Mattice outslug unbeaten Christian Tapia to claim an unanimous decision in their terrific ten-round clash.
Ford takes on his first former titlist, though he insists it has been a long time coming.
“People are talking about this being a step up for me but I’m the step up for Magdaleno,” said Ford. “He's never fought anyone with a skill set like mine and never been hit by a sharpshooter like me.
Las Vegas’ Magdaleno (29-1, 18KOs) has won four straight since his WBO junior featherweight title reign ended in an 11th round stoppage to Isaac Dogboe in April 2018. His last win came in an eight-round decision over Edy Valencia on May 22 in Las Vegas.
“Everyone loves a comeback story, and everyone loves the underdog as well,” said Magdaleno. “I kind of feel like I've been the underdog before, and I’ve come out on top. Here we are again. This is my time to shine. A win in this fight puts me right back to where I need to be. I can’t let Ray Ford take that from me. Hopefully that inspires people to not give up on their dreams.”
Mattice's resurgent win over Tapia was his third straight, with 'The Gunna Man' eager to continue that run—and once again conquer an unbeaten foe.
“April 8 we are back,” said Mattice. “Another undefeated fighter and another big step for my career. This is my first fight since signing with Matchroom and I plan on putting on another spectacular performance to show the world why they signed me."
Cesena (16-0-1, 13KOs) will make his U.S. debut along with his first appearance on DAZN. The rangy 23-year-old prospect from Loreto, Mexico—who is guided by Shane Shapiro—has fought at home in all but two bouts. The road trips both took place in Dubai in back-to-back fights before returning to Mexico for a fifth-round knockout victory in his last fight on August 5 in La Paz.
“I am very excited to make my United States debut live on DAZN on April 8 against a very strong opponent in Mattice,” said Cesena. “I am going to be well prepared to bring a war to my Mexican people in San Antonio come fight night. I want to thank my promoters Shane Shapiro and Karim Akkar for giving me this opportunity to showcase my talent in the US.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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