Ambition is often admirable.
It can also be risky.
Saturday night (DAZN, 8 PM EST), precocious Jr. bantamweight titlist Jesse Rodriguez will make an ambitious move in his hometown. It’s his second of the year after stepping in as a late replacement, and jumping two weight classes, to defeat Carlo Cuadras for a vacant WBC belt. With the WBC threatening to remove their ‘franchise’ designation from lineal champion Juan Francisco Estrada, Rodriguez could soon have their title all to himself.
Rodriguez has to keep it first.
Across the ring from him will be former lineal king and two-time WBC titlist Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Sor Rungvisai has won three in a row since a loss to Estrada in their 2019 rematch. It is Sor Rungvisai’s only loss since a cut-hastened decision loss to Cuadras in 2014. Is Sor Rungvisai an aging former champion or a rested one still capable of the performances that earned him wins over Roman Gonzalez twice and Estrada in their first contest?
If it’s the former, Rodriguez has a chance at a star enhancing performance. If it’s the latter, this could be anyone’s ball game.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
Previous Titles: WBC Super Flyweight (2013-14, 1 Defense; 2017-19, 3 Defenses); Lineal/TBRB/Ring World Jr. Bantamweight Champion (2018-Present, 1 Defense)
Weight: 114 ½ lbs.
Hails from: Si Sa Ket, Thailand
Record: 50-5-1, 43 KO, 2 KOBY
Rankings: #1 (Ring), #2 (TBRB), #3 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 6-2, 3 KO
Last Five Opponents: 141-32-6 (.804)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Yota Sato TKO8; Carlos Cuadras L8 – Technical; Roman Gonzalez MD12, KO4; Juan Francisco Estrada MD12, L12
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Akira Yaegashi TKO by 3; Amnat Ruenroeng UD10; Kwanthai Sithmorseng RTD3
Current Title: WBC Super Flyweight (2022-Present, 1st Defense)
Previous Titles: None
Weight: 114 ½ lbs.
Hails from: San Antonio, Texas
Record: 15-0, 10 KO
Press Rankings: At 108 lbs. - #3 (Ring); At 115 lbs. - #5 (ESPN), #6 (Ring), #9 (TBRB)
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-0
Last Five Opponents: 112-28-8 (.784)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Carlos Cuadras UD12
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None
The Pick: A recent clip on social media rounds of Sor Rungvisai allegedly in preparation for this contest should give pause. The Thai banger was shaking out from an orthodox stance, something he attempted in the Estrada rematch. It didn’t work out well for him. Sor Rungvisai is at his best as a southpaw and while there might be some temptation to try to mix things up against another southpaw, he shouldn’t.
Rodriguez is going to be the quicker man in this contest. What Sor Rungvisai has to do is keep the pressure on and land the sort of big, hurtful shots Rodriguez may not have seen yet as a professional. Sor Rungvisai is one of the heaviest handed fighters in the sport, uncommonly strong for Jr. bantamweight, and will need to make every hard shot count.
Rodriguez has to show the same sort of calm and maturity he did against Cuadras. If he finds himself being first, Rodriguez can’t get greedy and leave openings for Sor Rungvisai to respond. The older man could win this one if he gets to the younger but Rodriguez took some good shots against Cuadras fine and has the feet and boxing ability to avoid prolonged exchanges with Sor Rungvisai. Throw in the hometown edge, and the sometimes tricky Texas judging, and this feels like a hard fight for Rodriguez to lose. Youth and speed prevailing is the pick here. Let’s go with Rodriguez by decision.
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Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.com