Carlos Cuadras arrived in Phoenix this past Sunday of the belief that he was set for a title fight rematch with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

The thought of beginning his normal fight week ritual instead gave way to a different task—homework.

Cuadras spent a full training camp preparing for a second fight with Sor Rungvisai (50-5-1, 43KOs), a former two-time WBC junior bantamweight titlist from Thailand who arrived in Phoenix last Wednesday only to fall ill over the weekend. The Thai southpaw was forced to withdraw from the fight, with San Antonio’s Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez (14-0, 10KOs) agreeing to step up in class and weight to challenge Cuadras for the vacant WBC junior bantamweight title.

“I really didn’t know what to think,” Cuadras confessed to upon learning the news of the opponent switch. “When me and my team arrived on Sunday, the fight with Sor Rungvisai was still on. Next thing I know, I’m getting a phone call saying we’re fighting [Rodriguez].

“I was looking forward to beating Sor Rungvisai again. That will have to come next fight.”

The two will collide this Saturday atop a DAZN telecast from Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

The opponent switch was not a concern to Cuadras, a former WBC 115-pound champ from Mexico City’s whose primary goal remains to regain his old title. Getting to know his new opponent, however, required a little more than a shrug of the shoulders and agreeing to the fight.

“I just started watching videos of him (Monday) morning. I know that he trains hard and that he’s [secondary WBA 115-pound titlist] Joshua Franco’s brother – I didn’t even know they were brothers until (Monday),” admitted Cuadras.

Rodriguez normally campaigns at junior flyweight, though has frequently fought above the limit and even as heavy as featherweight for a stay-busy fight early in his career. The 22-year-old southpaw fought just above the 108-pound limit for his last fight and was training for a regional flyweight title fight on Saturday’s undercard before agreeing to replace Sor Rungvisai, whom Cuadras dethroned in their May 2014 title fight.

Saturday’s rematch was originally put together as the rubber match between Francisco ‘El Gallo’ Estrada (42-3, 28KOs) and Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (50-3, 41KOs) was set to take place March 6 in San Diego. Cuadras-Sor Rungvisai II and Estrada-Gonzalez III were to serve as the eleventh and twelfth entries in the incredible series involving the junior bantamweight Fab Four.

Cuadras has only beaten Sor Rungvisai out of the lot, having ended his two-plus year title reign in a spirited twelve-round loss to Gonzalez in September 2017. Cuadras came up just short in a ten-round loss to Estrada in their September 2017 non-title fight, and traded knockdowns with Estrada before being stopped in the eleventh round of their scorcher of a WBC junior bantamweight title fight in October 2020.

The intention of bringing forth the aforementioned bouts to the schedule barely four weeks apart came was to match the winners later this year. Those plans remain on hold, as neither fight is on the schedule. Estrada tested positive for Covid and was forced to withdraw from his lineal/WBA championship defense versus Gonzalez, who now faces WBC flyweight titlist Julio Cesar Martinez (18-1, 14KOs; 2NC) in a junior bantamweight non-title fight.

Cuadras still has to win this weekend to keep the rematch with Sor Rungvisai in play. It’s no easy task as reflected in the betting odds. Rodriguez has already skyrocketed to a healthy -250 betting favorite according to BetMGM sportsbook, despite taking the fight on short notice and moving up in weight.

That does not at all deter the confidence of the former champ who envisions greater riches still to come.

“After I win this weekend, sure I want all of those guys,” Cuadras insisted of revisiting fights with all of his old friends. “Rungvisai, Chocolatito, Gallo—I want them all again. Once I beat [Rodriguez], I will be WBC champion again and will defend that belt against anyone who wants to come my way.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox