SAN ANTONIO – Fight night turned out to be something special.
Over 2,500 boxing fans packed the newly opened Tech Port Center and Arena to witness what could be the defining moment in Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez’s young career. The 22-year-old Rodriguez, who is boxing’s youngest current world champion, dominated from start to finish in the main event of DAZN’s Saturday evening broadcast.
Rodriguez (16-0, 11 KOs) defeated Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (50-6-1, 43 KOs) of Thailand to remain the WBC Super Flyweight World champion.
“To do this in front of the home crowd, it can’t get any better than this‚” said Rodriguez to KSAT 12 Sports after the fight. “It was amazing. I’ve never had the support like that in any kind of fight. To get that support from my own crowd, it means everything to me because every time I step inside that ring I represent San Antonio to the fullest.”
“Bam” never looked out of sync from the opening bell. Rodriguez landed clean, open jabs from round one. Rungvisai appeared to be slow to catch up to his opponent’s speed and accuracy. When Rodriguez wasn’t landing clean punches with his jab, he was switching to landing combination shots. “Bam” then turned to using his angles to keep Rungvisai from starting any kind of offensive attack.
No matter what Rungvisai did, “Bam” was ready with an answer in his first title defense in front of his hometown fans.
Just 40 seconds into the seventh round, Rodriguez landed a clean overland left punch that sent Rungvisai down to the canvas briefly. It was enough to earn the knockdown, and by the eighth round, Rodriguez let his hands fly, resulting in the referee stepping in to stop the fight and earning “Bam” the victory by technical knockout.
“To finally prove myself to the people, to the media, everyone that was doubting me, it feels amazing,” said Rodriguez.
Staggering offensive performance by BAM, the youngest champ in boxing today. BAM landed 66% of his power punches, 14 jabs per round, while limiting Sor Rungvisai to 11 of 55 landed per round. Rungvisai landed 22 of 74 per round in his previous 13 fights. #RodriguezRungvisai pic.twitter.com/YPPwS9wK4Z— CompuBox (@CompuBox) June 26, 2022
Rodriguez explained that although he was landing most of the punches and the pain in the main event, Rungvisai wasn’t giving up as the bout progressed.
“I felt like he was fading, his power was decreasing in the third round and he was on his way out already,” Rodriguez said. “I picked it up. I knew he was hurt. I was hoping they did stop it because he was hitting hard and I knew I had to get this guy out already.”
WOW WOW WOW!! This kid is a superstar! @210bam @DAZNBoxing— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) June 26, 2022
Rodriguez is the younger brother of WBA Super Flyweight World champion Joshua Franco. The San Antonio brothers are currently world champions in the same weight class. Saturday’s successful title defense for Rodriguez came as no surprise to big brother Franco.
“It was an amazing feeling, I knew my brother was going to make a statement and knock him out and that’s what he did,” Franco explained. “I wasn’t surprised at all. I know what my brother has, his work ethic in the gym, I know his talent, I know his skills - it didn’t surprise me.”
According to trainer Robert Garcia, Franco’s next fight will be held this coming September although the official announcement has yet to be made. The September fight would be Franco’s first fight of 2022 since winning by unanimous decision over the Australian fighter Andrew Moloney.
TRAINER ROBERT GARCIA
One of the best trainers in boxing has made Rodriguez and Franco a priority. Robert Garcia has taken both boxers under his wing from the start of their careers, even training them out in Riverside, California when it comes to preparing for fights.
Garcia has been training heavyweight Anthony Joshua in London, England as he prepares for his title fight in August. However, Garcia made it a point in agreeing to train Joshua that if Rodriguez or Franco had a title fight during training camp, Garcia would be able to leave to be in the corner for his boxers.
That’s where Garcia was Saturday night - in Rodriguez’s corner directing his young champ.
“Since I made a deal with Joshua, I told him that if my champions are fighting while I’m there, I’m going to go and they agreed.,” said Garcia. “The same goes for Franco, and that was our deal. They would fly me down and fly me back.”
“It means everything for Robert to be here,” explained Rodriguez. “It goes to show that Robert cares about us not only inside the ring but outside the ring as well. He’s been training me since I was 15-years-old. Having Robert around is like having a second dad.”
Franco added, “It means a lot for him being here. It just shows how much he cares about us, cares about my brother. He’s our trainer but over time he’s more like family now. He cares about us. That means a lot from Robert.”
Bam just needed a chance to showcase his skills. @MatchroomBoxing @EddieHearn gave us the opportunity https://t.co/iX4BHxXoDI— Robert Garcia Boxing (@GarciaBoxing) June 26, 2022
Garcia told KSAT 12 Sports after the match that he plans for Rodriguez to return to compete at the 112 pound range and fight for a title at flyweight.
“I want to leave the 115 weight class open for Franco,” explained Garcia. “Franco was a champion there first. ‘Bam’ wasn’t even supposed to be a champion at 115. We were aiming at 108-112, so I want to drop him to 112.”
Garcia added, “It’s time for the younger fighters, it’s time for the new blood.”
Daniel P. Villanueva has worked with KSAT 12 for over 19 years and is an award-winning producer. To submit story ideas, email firstname.lastname@example.org