For about four of five rounds, it was everything fans could ask for. 

Two undefeated, young titlists competed at a high skill level in an attempt to emerge not just as the winner but as something bigger than they were before.

Only one of them could succeed.

Eventually, Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez took over for good. He was too long, too smart, too much better than Sunny Edwards to be denied on Saturday night. Rodriguez, at 23, fought like a seasoned veteran. He established his jab early and after the first scheduled third of the fight it was time to turn up the heat. 

Rodriguez took some clean shots to the head and body from the quick fisted Edwards. Edwards showed a lot of what he’s blessed with on the night. He’s quick, smart, and he has a ton of guts. Power? There’s a reason Edwards only has four stoppages in twenty pro starts. 

Even as the fight became increasingly, violently one-sided, it was still just about everything a fan could ask for. On display was a young fighter who at times appeared to have one of the highest ceilings in the sport showing that he was as advertised. In 2022, fans saw Rodriguez dominate two (Carlos Cuadras, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai) of the premier fighters of what had been a golden era at junior bantamweight.

Now they were seeing him dominate one of the best flyweights in the world. Edwards, to his credit, kept fighting back despite cuts and what turned out to be a busted orbital bone. The left hand that finally put Edwards down in the ninth could easily have ended the night. Edwards willed himself up.

The beating had been rough enough after eight to wonder if it was time for the corner to intervene. In the ninth, both Edwards and the corner seemed to recognize the obvious. Sometimes, it’s not your night.

Rodriguez and his corner didn’t have to share that concern.

Futures: Rodriguez said after the fight that he was done at flyweight, meaning a return to junior bantamweight is imminent. He said he wants a crack at lineal and WBC king Juan Francisco Estrada. That’s a fascinating fight pitting a rising star against a future Hall of Famer. Estrada has been out of the ring for more than a year and may have other plans.

Speculation was strong that Estrada would face Kazuto Ioka late this year but no deal came together. It may be something they can revisit in the spring and that might be a wise course for Estrada. Ioka would be a solid payday against another veteran before testing Rodriguez. If that is the way things go, there are other exciting fights Rodriguez could take. 

For instance, as a WBO titlist at flyweight (now unified with Edwards IBF strap), Rodriguez can be an instant mandatory in his next division up. The current leading contender at 115 pounds for the WBO is former three-division titlist Kosei Tanaka. That’s a hell of a fight. A clash with IBF titlist Fernando Martinez would mean another showdown with a fellow undefeated champion.

There are a lot of good options for Rodriguez and, at 23, those options will grow over time. So will he. Junior bantamweight won’t be his last stop. 

Cliff’s Notes…

It was nice to see Showtime pay tribute to the team behind the scenes as they went off the air for the final time. They gave fans one last highlight in their farewell show…While the Guerrero-Berto rematch was some solid old man boxing, and the main event served its purpose as a showcase for David Morrell, it was the bout in the middle that stole the show…Chris Colbert looked like a rising star heading into 2022. He’s unraveled since. Hector Garcia showed his limits against a fighter who could outmuscle him. Colbert was lucky to get a decision over Jose Valenzuela in March. This time, he was knocked stiff. Colbert just doesn’t have the firepower to keep better fighters off him…The heavyweight card next Saturday and the Inoue-Tapales fight on the 26th leave fans plenty more to look forward to before the year is out.  

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at