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Jesse Rodriguez becomes youngest current titlist in boxing with UD win over Carlos Cuadras

Jesse Rodriguez (right) grew up fast during his late-notice title shot vs. veteran Carlos Cuardras on February 5 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Ed Mulholland/ Matchroom Boxing
Fighters Network

Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez scored a unanimous decision victory over Carlos Cuadras tonight at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The scores were 115-112 and 117-110 twice for the 22-year-old southpaw, who won the vacant WBC junior bantamweight title and officially put the 115-pound division on notice.

“It was a tough-ass fight,” Rodriguez (15-0, 10 knockouts) told DAZN’s Chris Mannix in the ring after the bout. “Credit to Carlos Cuadras. He brought out a Bam Rodriguez that I didn’t even know I had.”

Rodriguez, of San Antonio, Texas, is now the youngest titleholder in boxing. Prior to tonight, Bam had only fought above the flyweight division limit once. Against Cuadras, he was not only stepping up in weight but in level of opposition. It was also his first time fighting past the eighth round.

“Carlos Cuadras is a true warrior. I thought I was going to get him out of there but he has the heart of a warrior. By the fifth round, I knew he wasn’t going anywhere, so I had to box.”

In a classic “youth versus experience” matchup, both fighters had their moments but Rodriguez landed the heavier punches throughout. About a minute into the third round, Rodriguez dropped Cuadras (39-5-1, 27 KOs) with a right uppercut. It would be the only knockdown of the fight.

Cuadras was originally set to fight a rematch with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai tonight but Rodriguez, who was already scheduled to fight on the undercard, stepped in as a late replacement after Rungvisai withdrew due to an illness.

“When I got the call, I had no hesitation,” said Rodriguez during the pre-fight presser earlier this week. “This is my moment. San Antonio will have a new champion and a star will be born”

Bam kept his word. Now he, along with his brother Joshua Franco, have brought junior bantamweight world titles back to their hometown.

According to CompuBox stats, Rodriguez landed 258 of 688 total punches (38%), compared to 172 of 944 (18%) for Cuadras. The former beltholder did have the edge in body punching though, landing 91, compared to 58 for Rodriguez.

As for what’s next, Bam is keeping his options open. “I feel good at 115 pounds. If I get a good opportunity to fight somebody at this weight, I’m more than happy to. But if I get a shot at 108 or 112, I’ll be more than happy to go back down. I’ll be watching the [Roman] Chocolatito [Gonzalez]-[Julio Cesar] Martinez fight [on March 5 in San Diego] for sure. Maybe I’ll get the winner.”

In the co-main, American Jaime Mitchell (8-0-2, 5 KOs) successfully defended her WBA bantamweight title with a TKO 4 win over Carly Skelly. The gap in skill level was apparent from the opening bell of this fight.

Mitchell dropped Skelly (4-1-1) just before the end of the first round. At the end of the second, a counter right-left from Mitchell had Skelly down again and in bad shape. The Liverpool, England, native made it to her feet but it felt like it the writing was on the wall.

February 5, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Jamie Mitchell (right) and Carly Skelly during their February 5, 2022 bout at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing.

February 5, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Jamie Mitchell (right) and Carly Skelly during their February 5, 2022 bout at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing.

About halfway through the fourth round, the American teed off on Skelly with barrage of unanswered punches that had her out on her feet. Referee Wes Melton wisely jumped in to stop the fight, giving Mitchell the stoppage win.

Other undercard results as follows:

Raymond Ford improved to 11-0-1 (6 KOs) with a controversial split decision win over Edward Vazquez (11-1, 3 KOs) in a featherweight bout. Many, including promoter Eddie Hearn, felt Vazquez did enough to win the fight. Judges Chris Wilson and Rubin Rocky Taylor turned in absolutely indefensible scorecards of 97-93 and 98-92, respectively, for Ford.

Fernando Diaz improved to 11-1-1 (3 KOs) with a UD 10 win over Lorenzo Smith (10-1, 8 KOs), who suffered his first pro loss, in a flyweight bout.

Khalil Coe improved to 2-0-1 (2 KOs) with a TKO 2 win over Dylan O’Sullivan (1-1) in a light heavyweight bout.

Elijah Lorenzo Garcia improved to 10-0 (9 KOs) with a third-round stoppage win over Antonio Louis Hernandez (6-12-2, 4 KOs) in a super middleweight bout.

In a six-round heavyweight fight, Adam Stewart improved to 13-1-1 (8 KOs) with a unanimous decision win over Alvin Davie (6-3, 5 KOs).



Michael Montero can be found on social media via @MonteroOnBoxing. His podcast “The Neutral Corner” can be seen every Monday on TheRingDigital YouTube channel, and heard on audio podcast platforms around the world.