Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez has used Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez as a sparring partner to prepare for his WBC super-flyweight title fight with Juan Francisco Estrada.

Rodriguez, 24, established himself as one of the world’s finest fighters when in December at flyweight he stopped the previously undefeated Sunny Edwards, and on June 29 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, he returns to super flyweight to challenge Estrada, the defending champion.

The 34-year-old Estrada had a memorable trilogy with Gonzalez in which he first lost via unanimous decision and more recently earned spit-and-majority decisions, but may recognise that the improving Rodriguez poses an even greater threat – particularly given the benefits associated with sparring such a highly-regarded fighter, as he did for eight rounds.

“‘Chocolatito’ fought Estrada three times so he’s very familiar with his style – he knows what he does right and wrong,” Rodriguez said. “To share the ring with him was a huge opportunity. We got eight solid rounds in, and each one was fireworks, so my confidence is even higher going into the fight knowing I’ve shared the ring with Chocolatito.

“Chocolatito is a legend – not just of the lower weight classes but just in boxing, period. He was on the pound-for-pound list for a very long time, so to share the ring with him was an honour, and it doesn’t get any better than that. 

“This isn’t the first fight that I’m being doubted, or people are saying I can’t win. So, it’s just another fight. Every day is another day in the gym, and then on June 29 I will show everyone once again that I am the real deal.

“It’s not about him, it’s about what I have inside me and the style I have. I know what I am capable of, so I go into the fight knowing that I feel that no one can beat me.

“I just know I am ready, whether he was young and active or not, I know I can beat any version of Estrada. 

“I’ve been taking tough fights for my last four, five, six fights now. I’ve lost count of them. I’ve been in world-title fights since 2022, and I feel like winning this fight in a dominant fashion or even stopping Estrada – it will make people believe. But if it doesn’t, that’s okay. I know what I am accomplishing in the sport and that’s what matters.

“The pressure is on me as the one coming up. Estrada has been around, and people know what he’s done, so it’s up to me to show the world that I am one of the greats in the lower weight classes and the world of boxing as well.

“I’m more motivated than ever and very confident going into this fight, so you can expect the best of me on June 29.”

Edwards, 28, returns to the ring for the first time since his first defeat – for the IBF and WBO flyweight titles – when he fights Adrian Curiel on the undercard.