Jesse Rodriguez Pulls Away from Cuadras in a Sterling Performance
At the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, Carlos “Principe” Cuadras (39-5-1, 27 KOs) took on Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez (15-0, 10 KOs) for the vacant WBC junior bantamweight title. At 115 pounds, Cuadras has been one of the elite fighters for nearly a decade.
Principe won the WBC junior bantamweight title with a technical decision win over Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in May of 2014. After five defenses, he lost to belt to lower-weight legend Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez in September of 2016. The resident of Mexico City continues to be a mainstay at 115 pounds, having faced the likes of McWilliams Arroyo and current WBA champ Juan Francisco Estrada.
Here he faced Rodriguez, a late replacement for Rungvisai who had to withdraw after contracting COVID-19. What made this fight so unique is the challenger moved up two weight classes to take on Cuadras. The younger brother of WBA Regular junior bantamweight champ Joshua Franco, Jesse is ranked first by the WBO and third by the WBA at 108 pounds, Rodriguez jumped at the opportunity to fight for a world title at 115. Trained by the excellent Robert Garcia, “Bam” is viewed by pundits as one the best up-and-coming fighters in the sport. In Team Rodriguez’s mind, this was a gamble worth taking.
The more experienced Cuadras let the punches fly early in an effort to show the young kid who is the boss. But, what makes Rodriguez so highly regarded is his boxing IQ and maturity. The southpaw is excellent at using his feet to create angles to land shots. A minute into round three, Rodriguez landed a right jab, slipped to the side, and put Cuadras on the seat of his pants with a beautiful right uppercut.
POURING IT ON
That moment emboldened Rodriguez who stepped forward and went to the body. A sign of a quality fighter is the ability to punch in between their opponent’s combinations. This is what Rodriguez was starting to do. You could see the kid growing with confidence as the fight went along.
Cuadras is tough as they come and began to fight with more urgency in the middle rounds. The effects of the punches showed on Rodriguez who marked around the face and nose. But, the young prodigy adjusted by moving and boxing with success as he began to time and pot-shot the vet.
In the late rounds, Rodriguez was the stronger and fresher man. He displayed his versatility and piled up the points. More and more, you could see Cuadras had no answers to combat what he was dealing with.
WILL HE STAY AT 115?
Rodriguez’s efforts were rewarded by the judges who scored the fight in his favor by unanimous decision (117-110 x2, 115-112). At age 22, the victor became the youngest world champion in the sport. The future for him is unknown. Yes, he could fight the winner of the March 5 junior bantamweight battle between Roman Gonzalez and current WBC flyweight champ Julio Cesar Martinez. Yet after the win over Cuadras, “Bam” said he’s willing to drop back down in weight to seek a title at either 108 or 112 pounds.
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By: Michael Wilson Jr.