Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez returned home as a newly crowned titlist for his previous fight in San Antonio.
The next trip to his hometown will come in pursuit of a second divisional championship.
BoxingScene.com has learned that plans are finalized for Rodriguez to face Mexico’s Cristian Gonzalez atop an April 8 DAZN show from a yet-to-be-revealed venue in San Antonio, Texas. The vacant WBO flyweight title will be at stake for their previously agreed upon bout.
ESPN.com’s Mike Coppinger was the first to report the finalized date and location.
Rodriguez (17-0, 11KOs) returns to flyweight after spending 2022 establishing his presence in the loaded junior bantamweight division. The sport’s youngest male titleholder claimed the vacant WBC 115-pound title with a twelve-round win over former champ Carlos Cuadras last February 5 in Phoenix, Arizona. He accepted the fight on barely one week’s notice, replacing an ill Srisaket Sor Rungvisai while moving up in weight.
Rodriguez agreed to the fight and the condition of next facing Thailand’s Sor Rungvisai, a former two-division champ who was the mandatory challenger. The two met on June 25, with Rodriguez scoring an eighth-round knockout in a career-best win which took place at Tech Port Arena in his San Antonio hometown. He returned to the ring less than three months later, outpointing Israel Gonzalez over twelve rounds on the September 17 undercard of the Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez-Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin trilogy clash in Las Vegas.
It was decided after that fight that the rising star would shut down his Fight of the Year-level 2022 campaign and return as a flyweight. From there came the move to vacate his WBC 115-pound title, while pleading his case during the WBO convention to next compete for the sanctioning body’s flyweight title.
The move came in conjunction with Japan’s Junto Nakatani (24-0, 18KOs) agreeing to relinquish the WBO flyweight title he’d held for two years. Nakatani cited an inability to any longer make the 112-pound limit as the reason, shortly before being named as the number-one contender in the WBO junior bantamweight rankings.
Rodriguez and Nakatani are both promoted by Mr. Honda’s Teiken Promotions. Rodriguez is co-promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, who—as previously reported by BoxingScene.com—is keen on hosting a series of top-level flyweight bouts in hopes of crowning an undisputed champion by year’s end.
Gonzalez (15-1, 5KOs) was previously ranked number-one but remains in line to challenge for the now vacant title. The 23-year-old from Tultitlan, Mexico has won nine in a row since a split decision defeat in May 2019 which serves as his lone career blemish.
Included among Gonzalez’s win streak is a ten-round victory over former title challenger Saul ‘Baby’ Juarez last June and a pair of early knockout wins in his past two starts. Gonzalez last fought on March 25, when he stopped Juan ‘Pinky’ Alejo at the end of the first round in Mexico City.
Original plans would have left Gonzalez out of the ring for exactly one year, as this bout was originally targeted to take place on March 25 in San Antonio. No explanation was given for the newly assigned fight date, which was learned as DAZN is in the process of finalizing a jam-packed first half schedule.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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