By Jake Donovan
Gamalier Rodriguez’ 2nd round knockout of Martin Cardona earned the streaking featherweight his second straight big win at Bahia Shrine Temple in Orlando, Florida.
It also earned him the biggest fight of his career, which will come in the 1st quarter of 2015.
Saturday’s knockout marked 17 straight wins for Rodriguez, who will now go on to challenge for a featherweight title in his next fight. On his radar is Vasyl Lomachenko, who first has to get past Thailand’s Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo this coming November in Macau, China.
“My next fight will be for a world title,” Rodriguez (25-2-3, 17KOs) told BoxingScene.com following his win Saturday evening. “It will be Lomachenko next.”
Providing that Lomachenko (2-1, 1KO) defeats – or at least doesn’t lose to – Piriyapinyo in November, making the fight should be relatively easy. Both fighters are under the Top Rank promotional banner, and the fight all but has the blessing from the World Boxing Organization (WBO), who recognizes Lomachenko as its featherweight champ.
“Rodriguez was ranked number three (by the WBO) before tonight,” WBO President Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcarcel pointed out. “They both fight for the same promoter. I can assure you that (with a win by Lomachenko), next year they will be fighting for the title.”
Lomachenko claimed the title in his third pro fight, though also on his second try.
The Ukrainian wunderkind, who captured Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012, came just short in his vacant title fight versus Orlando Salido, who was forced to give up the belt after coming in heavy for their bout in March but managed a split decision win. Three months later, Lomachenko dominated Gary Russell Jr., though was forced to settle for a majority decision thanks to creative scoring from one judge, but still left California with the belt around his waist.
Of the four major titlists, only Jhonny Gonzalez isn’t under the Top Rank banner. Lomachenko, Nonito Donaire and Evgeny Gradovich fight for the Las Vegas-based promotional outfit, as does secondary titleholder Nicholas Walters. The odds are heavily in Rodriguez’ favor that one way or another he lands a title shot against anyone he wants. If he could have his way, he’d like to line up all of the champs and show them just how far along he’s come in his career.
“I know I have enough experience as a pro,” said Rodriguez, who hasn’t lost in more than five years. “I’m going to be a handful for all of the champions out there.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox