Joshua Franco was thrilled to see younger brother Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez join him on the title stage earlier this year, even if it meant the two sharing the stage in a competitive junior bantamweight division.
With Rodriguez now dropping down to flyweight for his next fight, the family goal is to spend the next year or so cleaning out both divisions.
“It would be badass for Bam and me to become undisputed together,” Franco told BoxingScene.com. “To achieve that in the future is very possible for us.”
San Antonio’s Franco takes the first step this weekend towards making that dream come true. The reigning WBA 115-pound titlist meets Kazuto Ioka (29-2, 15KOs), a four-division champ who puts his WBO junior bantamweight belt at stake in their unification bout on Saturday evening at Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan.
The fight comes as Rodriguez (17-0, 11KOs) eyes a shot at becoming a two-division titlist, with plans to next face Mexico’s Cristian Gonzalez next spring for the vacant WBO flyweight belt.
Rodriguez previously held the WBC junior bantamweight title, which he won in a twelve-round, unanimous decision over former champ Carlos Caudras on February 4 in Phoenix, Arizona. With it, he became—at age 22— the sport’s first Generation-Z boxer to win a major title, having served as youngest in charge in a Fighter of the Year campaign that saw him twice defend the belt to go 3-0 in 2022.
It all came as Franco (18-1-2, 8KOs) was stuck on the sideline, though with deep admiration for what ‘Bam’ was able to accomplish.
“It amazed me,” insisted Franco. “To see my little brother do what he did this year was amazing. You don’t see too many fighters at his age do the things he’s done. His first world title fight, he jumped up two weight classes. Bam has all way been a little different, in a special way.
“When it comes to his discipline and work ethic, there aren’t too many who work as hard as he does. I’ve always compared him to Vergil Ortiz when it comes to putting in that work in the gym. Guys like that, they’re the last ones to leave the gym and don’t cut any corners.”
Rodriguez is in position to make noise at his new weight Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, Rodriguez’s co-promoter along with Mr. Honda’s Teiken Promotions, has plans to stage an unofficial flyweight tournament that will include WBC titlist Julio Cesar Martinez, whom Matchroom also promotes, along with unbeaten IBF titlist Sunny Edwards and the winner of the Artem Dalakian-David Jimenez WBA title fight on January 28 in London.
“Bam is going to be a dominant fighter. He’s going to collect titles there and the sky is the limit for him,” believes Franco. “There are tough fighters for him at that weight. The mandatory he has next isn’t easy. Julio Cesar Martinez is a really tough fighter as well but I do think if they do a tournament at flyweight, it ends with Bam and Sunny Edwards in the finals.
“That would an incredible fight, it’s what an undisputed fight should be—fought at the highest skill level, just like I plan to do [at junior bantamweight].”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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