Cuadras vs Rodriguez lead busy boxing parade Saturday
SAN DIEGO, Calif. February 4, 2022 – The super flyweight division promises to deliver the best fight of a busy boxing weekend, and it only got made five days ago between Carlos Cuadras and Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez.
Boxing cards quickly filled up the schedule for Saturday, February 5. It’s the Pro-Bowl Game break before the Super Bowl sucks the life out of any other sporting events for U.S. fans next week and an early weekend for the Olympic Games.
Looking down the list at your choices, one network wants your $75 for a mildly intriguing comeback fight for one-time welterweight division draw Keith Thurman. Another wants $30 to see Claressa Shields back in the boxing ring defending her middleweight titles along with a matchup between British fighters Chris Eubank Jr. and Liam Williams. But for the price of your DAZN subscription, put your time into the can’t miss card featuring the WBC World Super Flyweight title fight between Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez of San Antonio (14-0, 10 KOs) vs. Carlos “Principe” Cuadras of Mexico City (39-4-1, 27 KOs).
Both fighters were scheduled to be in action on this card, but they weren’t in the main event last week, and they weren’t fighting each other. Former titleholder Jessie Vargas canceled his fight with Liam Smith due to COVID-19. The far better co-main event rematch between Cuadras and former champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai of Thailand for the title was elevated. Rungvisai bowed out due to a non-COVID illness,
To everyone’s surprise, the flyweight prospect Rodriguez took an offer to ditch his undercard bout and face Cuadras for the title. This is where the action is on Saturday. The Matchroom Boxing promotion on DAZN from Phoenix, Arizona, begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
Cuadras vs Rodriguez: Veteran toughness tests young talent
Cuadras has taken on every prominent name in the division. His last bout in December 2020 was a Fight of the Year classic against Juan Francisco Estrada. Cuadras scored an early knockdown but finally got stopped last in the 11th round after taking brutal punishment from Estrada but refusing to submit in a tremendous display of courage until a referee stoppage saved him.
Cuadras hoped a victory over Rungvisai would put him in contention to fight the winner of the Estrada vs. Roman Gonzalez fight scheduled in March. Now Estrada is out due to COVID-19 too. Gonzalez gets his exciting replacement bout against another ambitious flyweight, Julio Cesar Martinez.
The 33-year-old veteran now faces a dangerous opponent in 22-year-old Rodriguez, the half-brother of WBA World Super Flyweight champion Joshua Franco. Franco calls himself a good fighter but insists his brother Bam is elite. Trainer Robert Garcia began telling people that Rodriguez is the best fighter in his Southern California stable several years ago. Considering who he works with, it’s an attention-getting statement.
Rodriguez is on a six-fight knockout streak. In October, he stopped Juan Carlos Burgos in four rounds, less than half the time it took brother Joshua Franco to stop Burgos. Rodriguez is a southpaw with surgical precision in his punches, working the jab until he sees an opening, then shutting the door in his opponent’s face. He is calm and durable.
“This is what I desire the most in the world, to be a champion again,” says Cuadras. “Whoever is in my way, it was meant to be Rungvisai but he got sick, so we have Jesse and I am ready.”
Cuadras is a classic Mexican-style offensive-minded fighter who’s never shied away from taking a punch to land a punch. Fans love the cheerful warrior who declares he’s fast, strong, “and very very handsome baby.” But the wear and tear surely take its toll on Cuadras. His last bout against Estrada was as brutal as it gets.
Rodriguez says he had zero hesitation taking this fight. “Robert (Garcia) and I believe, and we train so hard, we know we can beat anyone at 108 pounds, 112 pounds, and 115 pounds. And come Saturday night that training, and that confidence is going to show, San Antonio is going to have a new world champion.”
Rodriguez is the smaller man moving up, but he’s ambitious and has freshness to spare on his side. Rodriguez will put up his younger, faster hands against the experience of Cuadras. If Rodriguez lives up to the high expectations of the people around him who see him perform, he can win his first title fight Saturday. Oddsmakers agree; the betting line quickly swung three to one in favor of Rodriguez this week.
Rodriguez needs to fight like he’s got nothing to lose. If he does, he’s got a solid chance to win. If not, he’ll learn a hell of a lot. I’m betting Bam can make it happen by late TKO through accumulated punishment against the brave but battered Cuadras to become the hot new name in the lower-weight divisions.
On the Phoenix undercard: Aponte vs Jourdain and Ford vs Vazquez
Prospect Aaron Aponte of Miami (4-0, 2 KOs) faces unbeaten Louis Jourdain of Quebec (2-0, 1 KOs) in a four-round super lightweight bout.
Featherweight Raymond Ford of Camden, New Jersey (10-0-1, 6 KOs) fights Edward Vazquez of Fort Worth, Texas (11-0, 3 KOs) scheduled for ten rounds.
Eubank Jr. vs Williams, Shields vs Kozin, FITE TV, 3 pm ET/12 noon PT
Middleweights Chris Eubank Jr (31-2, 23 KOs) and Liam Williams (23-3-1, 18 KOs) fight a matchup mainly of domestic interest in the 12 round main event from Cardiff, Wales. The pay-per-view event begins at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT and costs $29.95 from FITE.TV or via PPV.com
Unified middleweight champion Claressa Shields (11-0, 2 KOs) defends her titles against southpaw Ema Kozin of Slovenia (21-0-1, 11 KOs), scheduled for ten rounds. The fight marks Shields’ return to boxing after her detour to MMA. The fight introduces the UK fans to Shields in anticipation of a showdown with the only woman to ever beat Shields in the amateurs, Savannah Marshall.
Also on this card, the return of Swedish heavyweight Otto Wallin (22-1, 15 KOs) against an 11-24 opponent, and the pro debut of British Olympian Caroline Dubois, sister of heavyweight Daniel Dubois.
Thurman vs Barrios: Fox PPV from Las Vegas, 9 pm ET/6 pm PT
The Fox PPV from Las Vegas asks a lot from the fans to see the return of welterweight Keith Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) against Mario Barrios (26-1, 17 KOs). Thurman has only fought once in nearly four years. Is his heart still in it? Barrios moves up from 140 pounds. He wasn’t exactly a giant killer against Batyr Akhmedov on the Spence vs Porter undercard and lost to Gervonta Davis. It’s a big ask for Barrios, but if Thuman shows up rusty and not as motivated as he needs to be, Barrios may pull off a win.
Another forever Davis opponent returns on the undercard. Leo Santa Cruz (37-2-1, 19 KOs) returns to featherweight against Keenan Carbajal (23-2-1, 15 KOs). Yes, Carbajal is related to the great champion Michael Carbajal, but Michael has disavowed any connection with his nephew and issued a statement that he’s rooting for Santa Cruz,
Talented Mexican super bantamweight Luis Nery of Tijuana (31-1, 24 KOs) needs a reasonable return effort after losing to Brandon Figueroa. He fights super bantamweight Carlos Castro of Phoenix (27-0, 12 KOs), who defeated Oscar Escandon by knockout in August. Yes, Nery made weight!
The pay-per-view telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT with Nery battles unbeaten and Castro. Early undercard fights air free on Fox Sports at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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