Jesse Rodriguez Makes His Case for Fighter of the Year
On September 17, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez (17-0, 11, KOs) successfully defended the WBC junior bantamweight title for the second time with a unanimous decision win over multiple-time world title challenger Israel Gonzalez (28-5-1, 11 KOs). The champ got off to a slow start. But as the fight continued, he found the resolve to pull away over the second half of the contest to secure the win.
During the post-fight interview with Matchroom Boxing, Rodriguez was asked if he should be named Fighter of the Year. “Bam” responded by saying the following;
“I believe I’m fighter of the year because I moved up two weight classes. This is not the weight class I was campaigning in at the beginning of the year. I was just a prospect, and now I’m a world champion.
I just beat two former world champions in my last two fights, and I just beat another tough fighter today. So, I believe I deserve that Fighter of the Year.”
DOES BAM DESERVE THE HONOR?
You can understand why Bam feels that way. 2022 has been a breakout year for the product of San Antonio, Texas. In February 2022, he was offered a match with one-time junior bantamweight champ Carlos Cuadras for the then-vacant WBC 115-pound belt. The offer was on only six days of notice. Also, Rodriguez had previously campaigned 108-pounds.
His team decided to take the fight. Against Cuadras, Rodriguez shined as he outfought Cuadras to win the title by unanimous decision. That was followed up with an impressive eighth-round stoppage win over two-time WBC champ Srisaket Sor Rungvisia in his first title defense in June 2022. Only 22, the Texan is now being viewed by fans and pundits as a future star.
ONE OF MANY CONTENDERS
However, there are other fighters in the mix for that honor. There’s Devin Haney, who became undisputed lightweight champion with his dominant unanimous decision win over George Kambosos Jr in June. Then you have Jermell Charlo who stopped Brian Castano in ten to capture the undisputed belts at 154 in June 2022. Undisputed women’s lightweight champion Katie Taylor must also be considered based on her dramatic split-decision victory over unified featherweight champ Amanda Serrano in April 2022. That bout is in the running for the fight of the year.
The year is not over yet. There’s more work to be done to decide on that award. But at the very least, Rodriguez is definitely in the running.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.