It’s rare for a fighter to end a successful championship reign just to drop weight.
Such a decision was made by Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez, who in late October gave up the WBC junior bantamweight title in favor of pursuing a run at flyweight. The move caught his co-promoters off guard, but motivated him to big plans for next year, including an unofficial flyweight tournament between division champions.
“I was a little surprised that he was demoted,” Eddie Hahn admitted to BoxingScene.com. “Of course he started at light weight. Then he took the title fight at 115. Now he’s decided to go back to flyweight.
“I loved him fighting the winner. [the third fight between Juan Francisco] Estrada Chocolatito [Gonzalez] However, he is currently campaigning at flyweight and is aiming for a double division title. He wants to fight Julio Cesar Martinez, he wants to fight Sunny Edwards. Both are big battles. ”
The move comes after Rodriguez is enjoying a breakout year in 2022, winning three fights in his bid for the WBC Junior Bantamweight title. He started the year by battling for the belt just six days ago, lifting weights to face former titlelist Carlos Cuadras in place of former lineal champion Srisaket Sor Rumvisay, who has fallen ill. Rodriguez outscored Cuadras in his round of 12 on February 4 in Phoenix, followed by hometown headliners vs. Sol in his Rumvisai. Rodriguez delivered his career-best performance by knocking out a Thai southpaw in the eighth round of his DAZN His Headliner in San Antonio on June 25.
His 2022 campaign ended with a 12-round unanimous decision over two-time title challenger Israel Gonzalez. It appeared on the undercard of the trilogy clash between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin at his T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas. There was pre-fight talk of Rodriguez squeezing in his fourth fight of the year before shutting everything down to reload and return to flyweight for 2023.
That decision gave rise to the idea for Matchroom Boxing to explore a series of high-profile 112-pound fights.
Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing has promotional ties to both Rodriguez (17-0, 11KOs) and reigning WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez (19-2, 14KOs; 2NC). Rodriguez will next face Cristian Gonzalez of Mexico for his vacant WBO flyweight title in early spring 2023. If Hahn gets his way, Martinez could face the super-talented Sonny Edwards. for a unification match against a fiery puncher from Mexico City.
If Edwards-Martinez comes to fruition, Rodriguez’s potential option is the Jan. 28 clash between WBA flyweight titlelist Artem Darakian (21-0, 15 KOs) and mandatory challenger David Jimenez Their match will take place at London’s OVO Arena Wembley and Edwards Martinez is also likely to land in the UK
The goal is to win a flyweight champion by the end of the year.
“I want to bring Julio Cesar Martinez to unity,” Hahn admitted. “Obviously he’s not going to stay 112 forever. He’s a very good fighter and is in a very difficult position to beat. I know you want it, so does Bam Rodriguez, Bam vs. Sunny Edwards, another great fight.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer at BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox