Bam Rodriguez Aims to Raise his Stock with Win Over Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
On June 25, Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez (15-0, 10 KOs) will make the first defense of the WBC junior bantamweight title against second-ranked challenger and two-time WBC 115 pound champ Srisiaket Sor Rungvisai (50-5-1, 43 KOs) at the Tech Port Arena in San Antonio, Texas.
Rodriguez captured the then-vacant belt with a twelve-round decision against one-time junior bantamweight champ Carlos Cuadras (39-5-1, 27 KOs) on February 5. But how Rodriguez garnered the opportunity to fight for the title was quite unusual.
SEIZING THE MOMENT
Ironically, Rungvisai and Cuadras were supposed to fight for the title. Unfortunately, Rungvisai withdrew after dealing with complications from COVID-19.
With organizers scrambling for a substitute opponent, they reached out to Rodriguez’s team. But the kicker was this – he was campaigning at junior flyweight and was ranked first by the WBO and third by the WBA at 108 pounds. But without hesitation, they accepted the offer with only six days’ notice. Rodriguez took full advantage, knocking down Cuadras in the fourth, and pulled away in the championship rounds en route to a decisive victory.
Now he faces a Sor Runvgisai, who for years has been rated as one of the elite fighters at 115 by most pundits. The 35-year-old is one of the hardest punchers in the division and is hungry to win another world title.
But “Bam” heads into this battle with his own level of praise. Many of those same pundits have tabbed the 22-year-old as a future star in the lower-weight divisions.
EMBRACING THE HYPE
Fighting in his hometown of San Antonio, Rodriguez told Matchroom Boxing that the focus of training camp has been on strength and conditioning to get acclimated to the new weight. He’s heard the talk about how good he is but feels ready to deal with the heightened expectations and feels that defeating Rungvisai will further increase his stock.
“A lot of people have their eyes on me now. They expect me to take over the division […] I want to live up to the hype. Just beating a fighter like Rungvisai – he’s been in there with the greats at 115. So, a win over him would not only boost my confidence, it would skyrocket my career as well.”
Rodriguez has big plans for himself in the future, unifying the division at 115 and even going back down in weight to win world titles at 108 and 112. But he must first overcome what, on paper, is the most challenging fight of his career. Understanding what’s at stake, he intends not to let his supporters down.
“You know, this is everything; this is the most important fight of my career. I fought in San Antonio before, but it was nothing like this […] So, to bring a world title back to San Antonio, especially me defending it, that’s big for my career and that’s big for the city of San Antonio. This is just the beginning of big fights coming back.”
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By: Michael Wilson Jr.