There is a family plan in place to divide and conquer the junior bantamweight division.
Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez continues to do his part, now owning two wins over the division’s version of the Fab Four in Carlos Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. The goal was achieved in back-to-back fights, with Rodriguez defeating Cuadras for the vacant WBC 115-pound title in February and defending in an eighth-round knockout of Sor Rungvisai (50-6-1, 43KOs) this past Saturday at Tech Port Arena in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas.
Immediate calls were made for Rodriguez to next face the division’s top players in lineal/WBA champ Juan Francisco Estrada (42-3, 28KOs) and former four-division champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (51-3, 41KOs).
Joshua Franco (18-1-2, 8KOS), Rodriguez’s older brother and a secondary WBA titleholder, is already in line to next face Estrada in a title consolidation clash that awaits a fight date. It will come as Rodriguez considers his next move, which would be a drop back down in weight.
“Joshua already plans to fight those guys,” Rodriguez told BoxingScene.com. “He’s supposed to fight Estrada next, he’s just waiting on a date. After that, we’re just going to keep fighting and beating the best. We won this title at 115 but the plan was always to drop back down to 112 and look at becoming undisputed there. The opportunity [with Sor Rungvisai] presented itself so we took it.”
Rodriguez and Franco previously discussed the plan of unifying all the titles at junior bantamweight, then deciding next steps. Franco has discussed one day returning to bantamweight to become a two-division champ—should he first beat Estrada—while Rodriguez was already planning to campaign at flyweight before receiving the last-minute opportunity to face Cuadras earlier this year.
Rodriguez’s last two performances have more than validated all of the hype surrounding the earlier years of his career, to where he is officially a pound-for-pound star on the rise. The hope now is to get Franco in position to prove to the world that there is plenty of talent to go around in their family, while Rodriguez ponders potential flyweight title opportunities.
“My brother is one of the most underrated people in the sport,” Rodriguez insists. “He’s going to surprise a lot of people when he beats Estrada and Chocolatito, but it won’t surprise me. We’re [both] here to stay.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox