Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez can enjoy a modest holiday celebration ahead of eyeing a second divisional title.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that a deal was reached between the respective camps of San Antonio’s Rodriguez and Mexico’s Cristian Gonzalez for their ordered WBO flyweight title fight. Eddie Hearn—whose Matchroom Boxing co-promotes Rodriguez along with Teiken Promotions—revealed a targeted time frame of March for the bout, with the proposed deal allowing all parties to avoid a purse bid hearing.
A ten-day period was previously assigned by the WBO, who formally ordered the fight shortly after its annual convention. A letter was sent to Mr. Honda’s Teiken Promotions and Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing representing Rodriguez and Felix ‘Tutico’ Zabala Jr’s All-Star Boxing on behalf of Gonzalez. An extension was granted as progress was made to the point of confidence among all parties that a deal would be reached.
The development sees Rodriguez (17-0, 11KOs) return 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 on 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 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.
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 run is a ten-round win 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.
A firm date and location were not yet revealed, though expected to land on a Matchroom Boxing-promoted DAZN show in the first quarter of the new year.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox