LOS ANGELES – Jesse Rodriguez has already secured some big wins under his belt against the likes of Sunny Edwards, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Carlos Cuadros.

But now he’s looking to graduate to the next level when he takes on Juan Francisco Estrada, the long-reigning top dog at 115 pounds and considered by many to be one of boxing’s pound-for-pound best fighters.

Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs) and the WBC and Ring Magazine junior bantamweight champion Estrada (44-3, 28 KOs) will square off June 29 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix on DAZN.

Oddsmakers envision that youth will prevail against experience. 

According to DraftKings, Rodriguez, 24, is listed as a -450 betting favorite and Estrada, 34, is listed as a +330 betting underdog. 

“I don’t pay attention to any of that. It plays no factor. I can be the underdog,” Estrada told BoxingScene during a media workout at the Matchroom Boxing Gym. “The odds don’t mean anything. I know he’s going to be on top of his game and coming for everything. I’m expecting the best Estrada. It’s going to be a great fight – expect fireworks.

“He’s a legend of the sport in the lower weight divisions. It’s an honor for me to be inside the ring with him. Come June 29, though, all of that goes out of the window and he’s just any other opponent.”

“Bam” Rodriguez will return for the first time since brutally blasting Sunny Edwards in nine rounds in December during a flyweight title unification fight. Rodriguez dropped Edwards, fractured the Briton's eye and forced him to quit in his corner in between rounds. 

“I was a little surprised at how one-sided it was,” said Rodriguez. “I thought it would be a little bit more difficult and competitive, but I took over. That’s boxing.” 

Estrada should be a tougher test. 

“Gallo” Estrada will be fighting for the first time since closing the chapter on his entertaining trilogy against Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez in December 2022. Two out of Estrada's last three fights, dating back to March 2021, have been against the Nicaraguan, and Estrada sneaked by both times with narrow decision wins. 

Mexico’s Estrada is riding an eight-fight winning streak since dropping a majority decision to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2018. Estrada avenged the loss to Sor Rungvisai in a 2019 barnburner.

But Estrada has been somewhat stagnant on the sidelines in recent years, just as the fast-ascending Rodriguez has been incredibly active. Rodriguez is preparing to fight in his 10th contest since 2020, while Estrada will be making just his fifth. 

To put the experience into perspective, however, Estrada turned pro in 2008, when Rodriguez was eight years old, and has fought in 322 rounds professionally, compared to 102 by Rodriguez. Estrada has been in 13 world title fights compared to five for Rodriguez. Rodriguez and Estrada have both been 112- and 115-pound titleholders. 

“I think the youth is going to play a big factor – especially that Estrada is coming off a big layoff,” said Rodriguez. “I'm expecting the best Estrada. He moves very well. He knows how to box and has a great IQ. … Sunny Edwards also had good movement, and we saw what I did to that.” 

Rodriguez claimed the 115-pound WBC title that Estrada now owns once again due to sanctioning-body semantics. The WBC made Estrada the franchise champion in 2021, opening the door for Rodriguez to beat Cuadras for the vacant title during a breakout campaign in 2022. Rodriguez defended the title by stopping Sor Rungvisai inside eight rounds and also beat Israel Gonzalez by decision.

Rodriguez then vacated the title, stepping back down to 112 pounds in April 2023, and picked up the vacant 112-pound WBO crown during a unanimous decision win against Cristian Gonzalez Hernandez before the Edwards fight. 

Estrada regained the WBC title when he beat Gonzalez the last time he stepped into the ring.

The San Antonio-born-and-bred southpaw slugger Rodriguez has been coached by renowned trainer Robert Garcia throughout his entire career. Garcia, a former world champion during his own fighting career, believes the odds on the fight are far too wide.

“It’s a big fight for the smaller weight classes. It should be a close and competitive fight,” Garcia told BoxingScene. “Bam is like my son. He’s been training with me since he was 10 years old. Our relationship is special, especially with the special talent that he has. The chances that he’s getting make it even more exciting.”

As Rodriguez builds his enemy intel file, he brought in another legend in Gonzalez – a fighter he has long admired and respected – as a sparring partner last week to better prepare for Estrada. 

Garcia called it one of the top-five sparring sessions he has ever witnessed.

"It was a badass experience,” said Rodriguez. “Action-wise, it was a 10 out of 10, back and forth, and good work. It was up there with the best sparring session I've had.”

If practice makes perfect, Rodriguez is looking to turn the dress rehearsal into a remarkable run and catapult himself into the top five of the pound-for-pound list.

“My goal is to be the undisputed champion at 115 pounds – I’ll be here for the next couple of years,” said Rodriguez. “The sky is the limit. I have plenty of more years to go. The boxing world will see.”

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or via www.ManoukAkopyan.com.