Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez now has a clear path to campaign for the WBO flyweight title.
The WBO ratings committee unanimously approved a request for San Antonio’s Rodriguez to be ranked number at flyweight and immediately challenge for the title. The motion was presented Thursday morning during the ratings portion of the annual WBO convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at which time it was confirmed that Junto Nakatani has vacated the belt to campaign at junior bantamweight.
Rodriguez (17-0, 11KOs) will face Mexico’s Cristian Gonzalez (15-1, 5KOs) in an ordered vacant title fight. Rodriguez is represented by co-promoters Teiken Promotions—who also has Nakatani—and Matchroom Boxing, while Gonzalez fights under Felix ‘Tutico’ Zabala’s All Star Boxing banner.
As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, Rodriguez traveled to San Juan to plead his case for an immediate shot at becoming a two-division champion. The 22-year-old rising star vacated the WBC junior bantamweight title on Wednesday to show his commitment to drop down in weight and campaign at flyweight.
Rodriguez claimed the WBC belt in a twelve-round win over former titlist Carlos Cuadras on February 5 in Phoenix, Arizona. The win came on just one week’s notice, having replaced former two-time champ Srisaket Sor Rungvisai who he went on to face and knock out in the eighth round of their June 25 DAZN headliner in his San Antonio hometown.
The ambitious 2022 campaign saw a quick turnaround, with Rodriguez returning to defend his title on the September 17 undercard of the Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez-Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin trilogy clash in Las Vegas. Rodriguez defeated two-time title challenger Israel Gonzalez via unanimous decision, though with the grueling schedule and the tougher-than-expected fight prompting the boxer and his team to make it his final bout of the year.
Gonzalez was previously ranked number-one but remains in line to challenge for the now vacant title. The 23-year-old from Tultitlan, Mexico has won nine in a row since a split decision defeat in May 2019 which serves as his lone career blemish.
Included among Gonzalez’s run is a ten-round win over former title challenger Saul ‘Baby’ Juarez last June and a pair of early knockout wins in his past two starts. Gonzalez last fought on March 25, when he stopped Juan Alejo at the end of the first round in Mexico City.
Representatives for Rodriguez and Gonzalez were both present at Thursday’s ratings hearing and acknowledged that talks would immediately commence. A deal is expected to be reached, with the first targeted for next January or February in the U.S.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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