Rodriguez dominates, stops Sor Rungvisai in masterful performance

In a dominating overwhelming performance, Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez looked like the star he and many others believe he can be as he retained the WBC junior bantamweight title in his first defense.

Rodriguez crashed, dismounted and beat the former two-time champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in an incredibly easy way en route to a one-sided eighth-round knockout in the main event of the Matchroom Boxing card on DAZN on Saturday night onet Tech Port Arena in San Antonio, Rodriguez’s hometown.

“My skills proved a point tonight,” Rodriguez said. “I told everyone I was trying to be a special fighter and I proved that tonight. We know what I’m capable of and that’s why we took this fight in the first place. We knew what I brought to the table and tonight I showed it.

Rodriguez, the youngest active world title holder in boxing at 22, never allowed the hard-hitting Sor Rungvisai into the fight. He controlled the fight from the opening bell as he dispatched and punched the slower Sor Rungvisai. He bombarded him with clean shots from both hands, landed plenty of power shots and steadily smashed the former pound-for-pound contender to continue what was a whirlwind of a few months.

“San Antonio, you’ve got a superstar on your hands,” Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said. “These kind of fighters only come once in a generation. We live in a world of hype, but it’s hard not to get too excited. He’s the youngest champion in the world in boxing and he could already be a pound for pound great. From 108 pounds to 115 pounds, honestly I don’t think I would back a fighter to beat him. I’m talking about some of the greats, Chocolatito (Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco) Estrada. Would you favorite these guys against ‘Bam’ Rodriguez?”

On Feb. 5 in Phoenix, Rodriguez dropped and easily edged former titleholder Carlos Cuadras to win the vacant WBC 115-pound title to become boxing’s youngest titlist as well as the first born world titleholder. in the 2000s.

Cuadras was scheduled to face Sor Rungvisai, but when he came down with Covid-19 and dropped out of the fight, Rodriguez, who was scheduled to fight in a flyweight bout on the undercard, accepted an offer to up the weight and the Cuadras face for the belt with six days notice.

For his first defense, he faced the now healthy Sor Rungvisai, a borderline Hall of Famer with two wins over the legendary “Chocolatito” Roman Gonzalez — and a 2014 title loss to Cuadras — who he has formed the division’s Four Horsemen with in recent years along with Juan Francisco Estrada.

But Sor Rungvisai (50-6-1, 43 KO), 35, a southpaw from Thailand, has slowed in recent years and was coming off a 15-month layoff. Still, his power figured as an asset, but he could never land anything significant against Rodriguez, who was determined not to stand in front of him and make a slugfest of it.

“I grew up watching these guys so to be in the ring with them is just a privilege. But beating them the way I’ve beaten them means everything to me and my team and we couldn’t be more. than happy,” Rodriguez said.

As Sor Rungvisai moved forward looking to land heavy punches, Rodriguez landed hard jabs and combinations and used his considerable speed advantage to avoid big punches which Sor Rungvisai only threw one at a time.

Rodriguez (16-0, 11 KOs) landed a hard right hand an uppercut in the third round, which is when Rodriguez said he felt like he had taken control.

“After the third round, I felt like his power just wasn’t the same,” Rodriguez said. “Maybe I felt like I broke him a bit, but like I said, after the third round I didn’t feel like his power was the same. He was still loud but not like the first two rounds. We came here and put on a show.

Rodriguez continued his two-handed attack and it was clear that Sor Rungvisai was starting to wilt. Rodriguez had a big sixth round, hurt him with a body jab and an uppercut in the seventh round, then pinned him with a left hand to the temple that rocked Sor Rungvisai and forced him to touch his two gloves to the mat for a knockdown.

“I started using my angles more. (Coach) Robert (Garcia) kept reminding me to use my angles and so I did. I took a step to my right and I threw my left shot and it went down,” Rodriguez said.

In round eight, Rodriguez defeated Sor Rungvisai with a relentless attack. He finally sent him into the ropes and as he continued to unload unanswered blows, referee Mark Calo-oy intervened at 1 minute 50 seconds.

According to CompuBox stats, Rodriguez landed 233 of 431 punches (54%) – an extremely high percentage – and Sor Rungvisai only landed 84 of 440 (20%). Rodriguez was ahead of him every lap.
Rodriguez is in a great position now. He has a world junior bantamweight title, but reiterated that he will drop to flyweight or junior flyweight for the good fight.

“I’m ready to do whatever Robert says,” Rodriguez said. “Any champ at 112. Come get him. I am here. I am here to stay. I am a special fighter, not an average fighter.

Hearn thinks more big fights and performances are ahead for Rodriguez and it’s hard to think otherwise.

“He can go down to 108, he can go to 112, but literally there’s not a single fighter I would put in Robert Garcia or Jesse Rodriguez that they wouldn’t accept a challenge against,” Hearn said. “As this young man says, he is here to be great. He’s here for the legacy, he’s here to be remembered, and San Antonio should be very proud of Jesse Rodriguez.

“There is a long career ahead of us. Very young guy, but all the ability to be a big pound for pound.

About Selena J. Killeen

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