You can count on one hand the boxers who had a better 2022 than Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez. The 22-year-old won a world title in stunning circumstances then successfully defended his new gold twice, including a win against a modern great. Rodriguez went from prospect to superstar in 12 months. Now is the time to get on board the ‘Bam’ train, as 2023 could be the year he goes stratospheric.
The way Rodriguez won the WBC super flyweight title was like something out of a motion picture. Initially set for a flyweight bout on the undercard of a title fight between Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs Carlos Cuadras. When Rungvisai pulled out injured, ‘Bam’ was offered the title opportunity. Despite the fight being just five days away, and at a different weight than his undercard bout, Rodriguez accepted the challenge.
‘Bam’ became boxing’s youngest active world champion when he knocked Cuadras down on the way to a unanimous decision victory. The San Antonio native became an overnight sensation, with his bravery in taking the fight and skills in winning it widely lauded. But Rodriguez wasn’t done shocking people.
Having missed out on his mandated title shot, Rungvisai was the first in line for a shot at the new champion. A formidable former WBC, lineal and The Ring champion, the Thai superstar is every inch a modern legend. Wins over Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada speak to his quality. Most thought he would have too much experience and know-how for ‘Bam’. They thought wrong.
Rodriguez became the first person to stop Rungvisai since 2009, scoring a TKO win over the former champion in eight rounds. His win over Cuadras introduced Rodriguez to the world stage. Stopping Rungvisai showed that ‘Bam’ was here to stay.
The WBC super flyweight champion finished up his banner year with a win over former title challenger Israel Gonzalez. While ‘Bam’ claimed a unanimous decision, Gonzalez ended up being his toughest test of the year. Rodriguez got through his challenger’s spirited efforts to hold onto his title though, bringing a spectacular year to a close.
Incredibly, super flyweight is not even Rodriguez’s natural weight. He will now return to flyweight, where he meets Cristian Gonzalez for the vacant WBO title. Already the youngest champion in boxing today, ‘Bam’ holding titles at two weights would be an incredible achievement.
This could just be the start, too. 2023 could also hold further big fights. IBF flyweight champion Sunny Edwards has expressed an interest in fighting ‘Bam’. The unbeaten Londoner is great value behind a microphone and in the ring. A fight with Rodriguez would be one of the events of the year.
So this is your final warning, get on the Jesse Rodriguez hype train now. The 22-year-old has “pound-for-pound star” written all over him. If his 2022 is anything to go by, it’s going to be a fun ride.